Volvo dealers put through paces ahead of VNL rollout

Updated Jul 3, 2024
Robots assemble a truck at Volvo's New River Valley assembly plant.
Robots assemble a truck at Volvo's New River Valley assembly plant.
Volvo Trucks North America

Baby deer, wildflowers and cool mountain mist surrounds the Volvo New River Valley campus, home to the all-new Volvo VNL line of trucks.

It looks bucolic. Quiet.

But it’s not. More than 3,000 people work at the facilities in the New River Valley, building Volvo Trucks for North America, including the VNL. Joining them in the past few months have been more than 1,800 dealer sales representatives, principles and customers to learn about the new truck. And a handful of reporters.

[RELATED: Volvo will build truck plant in Mexico to increase North American production]

“It’s safe to say almost all of our dealers were represented in the waves as we went region-by-region throughout the schedule,” says Kyle Zimmerman, manager of public relations. “It was important for us to make sure we provide as much education as possible, as this is our platform for all future technologies and a truck which represents an over 90% redesign from our previous generation.”

Visitors to the New River Valley plant are walked through nearly every aspect of the VNL, from in-cab amenities and seating to interior and exterior packages, safety technology, connectivity and uptime solutions, and more. There’s also a ride-and-drive, where visitors can get hands-on with the truck, pulling it under load on Volvo’s extended test track. The experience winds up with a plant tour of both the older plant, where legacy trucks and the VNL roll bumper-to-bumper down the line, to the new, nearly fully automated plant devoted solely to the VNL. Lastly, the company reveals a prototype of the electric VNL.

With so much new on the truck, Volvo isn’t taking any short cuts when it comes to education.

“We do anticipate we will have to spend a little more time initially on education around the new truck and why fleets and owner/operators should spec the trucks differently,” Zimmerman says. “This is a radical departure from everything we’ve ever known before in the North American trucking industry.”

[RELATED: Volvo showcases production ready autonomous truck]

One of the innovations with the VNL is the introduction of interior and exterior packages that group amenities much like the passenger car industry. Zimmerman says this enables the company to take a more consultative approach with the dealers and customers on making sure the truck they get is the right truck for their application.

“It’s a way for us at Volvo Trucks to package the right safety and technology features as well as powertrain package and trim levels to fit the customer need and pass along a tremendous value,” he says. “We have strategically brought a truck to the market which sets the new industry standards across the board.”

It’s an approach Volvo expects to see more of in the heavy-duty industry.

“It’s been a mainstay in the automotive industry, and with today’s regulatory landscape and the desire by customers and dealers for a more efficient and streamlined purchasing process, packaging will certainly become the industry norm,” Zimmerman says.

Training for the VNL started in January when Volvo launched six online training courses that begins with an overview of the design and an in-depth review of the new truck. Another online curriculum will launch in August to support dealer technicians. In-person training will also take place at facilities across the U.S. and Canada.

Volvo also provided dealers with a commonly used parts list coordinated with Service Market Logistics to keep parts in stock.

“We began years ago to ensure dealers would be set up for success,” Zimmerman says. 

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