Volvo Unveils Redesigned Flagship Class 8 VNL Tractor

Wedge-Shaped Cab, Reshaped Windshield Provide Improved Aerodynamics
Volvo VNL fleet
The new Volvo VNL is packaged into four exterior and interior trim levels with six cab configurations, each designed to fit customers’ preference, brand identity and operational use, according to the company. (Volvo Trucks North America)

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Volvo Trucks North America launched a revamp of its flagship over-the-road Class 8 VNL tractor Jan. 23, the first major overhaul since a 2017 redesign.

VTNA President Peter Voorhoeve termed the latest version of the VNL “a quantum leap forward.” Voorhoeve said during a media Q&A session that the redesigned VNL was VTNA’s most significant launch since 1996.

About 90% of the truck is new, said Magnus Koeck, VTNA vice president of strategy, marketing and brand management. The VNL order book will open in April, Koeck said, and production is set to start in the third quarter.

The upgraded VNL will be available in six cab configurations:

  • VNL 300 day cab
  • VNL 440 42-inch midroof sleeper
  • VNL 640 62-inch midroof Sleeper
  • VNL 660 62-inch full-height sleeper
  • VNL 840 74-inch midroof sleeper
  • VNL 860 74-inch full-height sleeper

All will be powered by the latest version of the company’s 13-liter D13 direct injection diesel engine, which VTNA argues delivers improved fuel efficiency, performance and durability.

The D13 engine is available in four horsepower ratings for the new version of the VNL, ranging from 405 hp to 500 hp and three torque ratings between 1,750 pound-feet and 1,950 pound-feet, VTNA said.

Johan Agebrand


The OEM also said the different power options were designed to suit different applications and incorporate an improved I-Shift transmission, featuring up to 30% faster shift speeds. Director of Product Johan Agebrand said during the Q&A that this was the result of improved clutch engagement, without going into more detail.

A noticeable addition during the VNL product launch was that changing gears was carried out using a stalk on the steering column. Agebrand said customers were heavily in favor of the move during meetings. Absent from the spec sheet is a manual transmission. A manual is not offered, Agebrand said, as the company believes the automated manual can address drivers' needs.

The truck’s aerodynamics were also tweaked. Those changes included a wedge-shaped cab and a reshaped windshield.

New Volvo VNL interior

Volvo says the new Volvo VNL is designed with the driver in mind to optimize comfort, efficiency and safety when working, living and resting. (Volvo Trucks North America)

Additional aerodynamic updates include tighter clearance around areas such as wheel openings, the bumper and hood as well as optimized chassis fairings and a reduction in the gap between the back of the cab and trailer, which all minimize resistance.

A fuel efficiency improvement of up to 10% is possible as a result of the aerodynamic revisions, VTNA said, contributing to an overall 10% improvement, with the remainder due to powertrain and advanced safety changes.

The VNL tractor is likely to be offered in battery-electric, hydrogen fuel cell, and internal combustion engine running on renewable fuel versions down the line, the OEM said.

In November, VTNA parent company Volvo Trucks bought the battery business, including a manufacturing plant in South Carolina, of bankrupt electric bus and battery manufacturer Proterra.

The all-new Volvo VNL was designed to change everything.

Peter Voorhoeve, VTNA president

Peter Voorhoeve

The Swedish company also teamed up with Canada’s Westport Fuel Systems on a high-pressure gas-injection fuel system joint venture in July 2023. The system uses natural gas and could use hydrogen, too, as the fuel source instead of diesel.

Volvo Trucks is aiming for 100% of its sales to be zero-emission vehicles by 2040.

VTNA’s VNR regional haul range currently offers a battery-electric option, the VNR Electric. Voorhoeve declined during the Q&A to say when the production of a BET VNL would begin.

Other changes made to prepare for future developments include a switch from a 12-volt to a 24-volt electrical architecture, which VTNA said laid the groundwork for the commercialization of fully autonomous trucks.

The truck maker teamed up with Aurora Innovation to integrate self-driving technology on its vehicles.

A potential upgrade for driver comfort also is possible. An optional air suspension system, Global Rear Air Suspension, is being offered. GRAS uses dual leveling rods to reduce roll and pitch angles, improve lateral stability and minimize road shocks, thereby maintaining a constant ride height, according to VTNA.

Volvo VNL 860 on road

Voorhoeve says Volvo Trucks started this project with a blank sheet of paper and analyzed the industry's trends and transformations. (Volvo Trucks North America)

“It rides better than certain SUVs here in the U.S.,” said Agebrand, citing chassis and suspension changes.
Customers will get to see the revamped truck at American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council Annual Meeting in New Orleans in early March, at the Truckload Carriers Association annual convention in Nashville, Tenn., at the end of March and the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in Las Vegas in May.

Development of the VNL involved building a $400 million cab plant next to VTNA’s New River Valley Plant in Dublin, Va. 

Maria Trinidade


Capacity in Dublin is almost double where it was before due to the robots used on the new production line, Maria Trinidade, Dublin Plant 2 manufacturing engineering manager, said during the release video.

“The all-new Volvo VNL was designed to change everything. However, change doesn’t only come with a redesigned truck — this product introduction is the start of a new era for Volvo Trucks, our customers and their drivers — a quantum leap forward,” Voorhoeve said.

He continued, “We started this project with a blank sheet of paper and thoroughly analyzed the trends and transformations that will impact the industry and our customers’ needs, including the sustainability and transportation demands of the future.”


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When the previous redesign took place in 2017, there were five cab configurations: a VNL 860 77-inch premium longhaul sleeper, VNL 760 70-inch longhaul sleeper, VNL 740 70-inch midroof sleeper, VNL 400 42-inch flat-roof sleeper and VNL 300 day cab.

That revamp saw the VNL get Volvo’s D13 as standard equipment, while the day cab and VNL 400 models could take the 11-liter D11 as an option. The 15-liter Cummins X15 engine was also available as an option.

Parallel production of the new and old models is likely to continue into 2025, Koeck said, but could last only six months.

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