March 14, 2018 11:30 AM, EDT
Volvo Trucks Debuts New Heavy-Haul Model
Volvo Trucks VNX model VNX 740 configuration comes with a 70-inch sleeper cab. (Volvo Trucks North America)

DUBLIN, Va. — The timing is right for Volvo Trucks North America to “take a further step” into the heavy-haul market, a company executive said during the launch of an updated model in its VNX series.

“This is us,” Magnus Koeck, vice president of marketing and brand management, told reporters during a March 14 presentation at the company’s customer center here alongside Volvo’s truck manufacturing plant. “We know how to develop trucks for rough conditions.”

Volvo also recognizes that the business case is strong for the new truck, he said. “We see that we have a strong labor market, and consumer spending is driving GDP growth,” he said. “We had the rebound of the manufacturing sector in 2017, and we also see some moderate expansion into this year.” He added, “Construction is doing well overall. Housing is doing fine; it will have a slight increase this year.”

He said that the company offers these types of severe-duty models worldwide, including its home country of Sweden, and is ready to expand its presence in the segment in North America. He pointed specifically to Canada and upstate New York as regions where heavy-haul applications are prevalent. With the new VNX, the company is targeting segments that include logging, heavy equipment transport and long combination vehicles, Volvo said.

The new model replaces the earlier VNX, which was first introduced in 2013 at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.

While heavy-haul is a small part of the truck market, it is one where Volvo recognizes demand, added product marketing manager Chris Stadler.

“It’s not a big market, but it is a specialized market. There are needs,” he said. “There is no typical application out there in heavy haul.” Stadler added that Volvo listened to its customers to design a truck that could meet those specialized needs and handle “the jobs they do day-in and day-out.”

“It is a high-profile segment,” Koeck added.

The VNX will be offered in three cab configurations: the VNX 300 day cab, VNX 400 flat-roof regional sleeper and VNX 740 with a 70-inch sleeper. It will be available in 6×4 tandem, 8×4 tandem, and 8×6 tridem configurations, the company said.

Volvo's VNX 400

Volvo's VNX 400 by Joe Howard/Transport Topics

Power will come from either the Volvo D13 or Cummins X15 Performance series engine, with power ratings across the two engines ranging from 505 horsepower and 1,850 pound-feet of torque to 605 hp and 2,050 pound-feet. The Volvo I-Shift automated manual will be paired to the D13 in either 13- or 14-speed variants. When equipped with the I-Shift, the truck features a “crawler” mode that permits low-speed operation when climbing or ascending steep grades.

Cummins-equipped models will be paired to the Eaton UltraShfit automated transmission. Both engines will be offered with Eaton manual transmissions.

The truck is available in approved Gross Combination Weight Ratings from 125,000 to 160,000 pounds. Ratings of up to 225,000 pounds are available with application approval and appropriate components, the company said. The VNX offers optional steer axles, lift axles, tridem drive axles and longer fifth-wheel slides to help meet a variety of weight distribution requirements, Volvo said.

Volvo's VNX 300

Volvo's VNX 300 day cab by Joe Howard/Transport Topics

Available rear axles range from 46,000 pounds to 55,000 pounds, and with rear heavy-haul suspension ranges up to 52,000 pounds. Dual steering gears help with maneuverability when the truck is carrying a heavy load. Plus, its high ride height can accommodate more articulation and front ramp angle, Volvo said.

Volvo is now accepting orders for the VNX. It is slated to enter production in the second quarter of this year.