Volvo teases VNL revamp

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Volvo's updated VNL
A teaser video released by Volvo Thursday morning features a tractor wrapped in a graphics package standard of vehicle concepts, but it does little to disguise the aggressive hood slope and stubby nose.

Volvo on Thursday teased the upcoming debut of its updated flagship VNL tractor – a truck that last received an overhaul in 2017. The truck will be unveiled virtually Jan. 23. 

The now-seven-year-old refresh borrowed some design elements from its regional sibling, the VNR, which debuted that same year as the successor to the VNM, and was inspired by Volvo’s SuperTruck project. Design inspiration for the forthcoming update is likely to come from the same place.

comparison of VNLsShown here are side profiles of the current VNL, Volvo's SuperTruck 2 and the teased new generation VNL that the company will debut Jan. 23.Volvo Trucks North America President Peter Voorhoeve told CCJ last year that the shape and learnings from aerodynamics and light-weighting from its SuperTruck 2, the fruits of a public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), are the two things most likely to be seen on mass production models sooner rather than later.

Starting with a cab perfectly wedge-shaped from front to back, including a raked and custom-made wraparound windshield, the front end of SuperTruck 2 was designed around a downsized cooling package, a fully aerodynamic trailer with gap fairings, skirts and boat tail, and includes air-actuated adjustable ride height. 

Voorhoeve appears to be making good on his promise. 

A teaser video released by Volvo Thursday morning features a tractor wrapped in a graphics package standard of vehicle concepts, but it does little to disguise the aggressive hood slope and stubby nose. The tractor's headlights also appear to be similarly positioned to those found on SuperTruck 2.

Also noteworthy is what appears to be an air intake on the hood and the absence of side vents, but these design elements were not part of SuperTruck 2. 

The current generation VNL, compared to pre-2018 model year, featured a compact hood design that shrunk around the cooling package for both aerodynamic and visibility improvement. The center section of the truck’s aerodynamic bumper was pulled out 1.4 inches to give the front of a truck a wedge-like design, and the sides were brought in 4 inches to give the truck a sweeping effect.

Repositioned turbulence-reducing air intakes, tapered fenders that keep air attached to the sides of the truck as it moves rearward, and chassis fairings that were moved closer to the ground, cutting the affects of crosswinds, gave the current VNL an overall aerodynamic improvement that led to a 1% fuel economy gain.

The inside too was flush with updates, many of which centered around the steering wheel. The wheel is tilt and telescopic, the ignition switch was relocated to the lower left side of the steering wheel, and the wheel itself features 21 tactile buttons that bring many of the functions previously integrated into a stalk onto the wheel itself. 

In its minute-and-a-half teaser video, Volvo didn't show the inside of the tractor. 


Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at [email protected]
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