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Volvo revamps VNX heavy-haul tractor

Jeff Crissey | Commercial Carrier Journal

After launching its new VNL long-haul and VNR regional-haul tractors in 2017, Volvo Trucks North America has completed phase three of its Shape of trucks to come initiative, re-entering the heavy-haul market with its new Volvo VNX series tractors.

We may be recognized as a long-haul tractor company in North America, but all over the world we are very strong in [heavy-haul] segments and we definitely have taken a step toward this in North America with the launch of the new VNX, said Magnus Koeck, VTNAs vice president of marketing and brand management.

The timing couldnt be better for VTNA to regain its footing in the heavy-haul segment as manufacturing, construction and housing markets continue strong growth and create increased demand for severe-service and heavy-haul tractors.

The new three-model VNX family replaces the previous-generation four-model VNX tractor lineup that VTNA stopped production on in conjunction with the D16 engine in early 2017 citing adverse market conditions.

While the new VNX shares many of the aggressive design cues and premium interiors with its VNL and VNR siblings, the launch of the new tractor is much more than a repurposed on-highway model. With a host of axle configurations, longer fifth-wheel slides two engine choices, 45-degree wheel cut, optional crawler gears and gross combination weight ratings from 125,000 to 225,000 pounds, VTNA applied the lessons learned from its previous heavy-haul VNX tractor.

Customers wanted a little more rugged truck, said Koeck. The previous generation was too similar to VNL series at the time. We had the appropriate engine with the D16 but we didnt have the appropriate chassis and truck. The new VNX is much more purpose-built for the task.

Axle options on the new VNX include front axles with 16,000- or 20,000-pound ratings and 6×4 tandem, 8×4 tandem and 8×6 tridem rear axles with ratings from 46,000 to 55,000 pounds.

VTNA said the broader range of options and beefed-up specs of the new VNX allows them more opportunity to better serve their heavy-haul fleet customers in North America.

There is no typical application and operation in heavy haul, said Chris Stadler, VTNAs product marketing manager. We need to understand our product and give them the right product to meet the application and perform the way the customer needs it to perform.

The new Volvo VNX series is available in three configurations VNX 300 daycab, VNX 400 42-inch sleeper and VNX 740 70-inch sleeper. Engine choices for the VNX include the Volvo D13 and Cummins X15 Performance Series.

The previous VNX was only available with the D16, said Koeck. We put that product on hold when we stopped production of the D16 in North America while we looked for the right powertrain options. With the D13 engine, I-Shift and Cummins X15 Performance Series engine, it really fills that gap and the range of power options allows us more flexibility.

Specing the D13 (455 to 500 horsepower and 1750 to 1850 ft. lb. torque) allows customers to take advantage of Volvos integrated powertrain with a 13- or 14-speed I-Shift automated manual transmission, deep-reduction crawler gears and new heavy-haul software to optimize shift points. The D13 also can be mated with 13- and 18-speed Eaton Fuller manual transmissions.

With ratings from 565 to 605 horsepower and 1,850 to 2,050 lb. ft. torque, the Cummins X15 Performance Series engine fills the upper end of the performance spectrum from the previous 600-horsepower D16. It can be paired with the Eaton UltraShift Plus AMT or Eaton Fuller manual transmissions.

Most of our customers we expect to spec the [Cummins and Eaton] powertrain fall into the severe service category, said Johan Agebrand, VTNA director of product marketing.

In addition to the standard Volvo Enhanced Stability Technology system that reduces engine torque and selectively applies brakes to prevent jackknife and rollover events, the VNX will get the full suite of Volvo Uptime Services, including Remote Diagnostics telematics, Remote Programming, Volvo Action Service and Asist web- and app-based service management platform.

Dealers are now accepting orders for the new Volvo VNX, and VTNA expects to begin production in May.