Industry at a Glance: Volvo Trucks in the U.S.
In this installment of our Industry at a Glance series, we take a look at one of the largest manufacturers in the world, Volvo Trucks. This OEM is well known in the industry for having some of the safest and most fuel efficient rigs. Volvo’s history of reliability, technological advancements and driver assurance since the 1920s, are why many choose a Volvo truck over its competitors.
The beginning of Volvo Trucks in the industry
The 1920s were a period of rapid growth for the trucking industry. But in the early years of the decade, trucks were very old-fashioned, often fitted with chain-drive systems and solid rubber tires. Drivers were exposed to inclement weather and fluctuating temperatures. Volvo looked to change that and began its rich history of safety-centric semi trucks when the first Volvo truck rolled off the production lines in Gothenburg, Sweden in February 1928. Series 1, as they called it, was shaft-driven, had pneumatic tires and a fully enclosed cab to protect the driver from the elements.
Two years later Volvo Trucks released Series 2, which featured modest engine improvements but focused on increasing driveability in the difficult road terrain of Sweden by reducing the previous two rear axle ratios to a single one and a wider track of 1,460 mm.
Volvo Trucks in the Mid-Century U.S. Industry
Despite success in Sweden 30 years prior, Volvo trucks did not make an appearance in the U.S. industry until 1959. The introduction of efficient direct-injection diesel engines, sleeper cabs and power-assisted steering made semi trucks easier to drive. Volvo acted as a pioneer of the turbocharged engine and the emergence of stronger, more efficient engines contributed to heavier and longer truck combinations. The Volvo Titan, Volvo Viking, Volvo Starke were the first models to launch in North America.
It was not until the mid-1970s that Volvo was established as a permanent part of the U.S. trucking industry, through Volvo of America Corp. In 1971, Volvo trucks tested eight F86 trucks in the U.S. and by 1974 they were launched throughout the Northeast. Only two years later, Volvo Trucks launched one of their first medium-duty trucks, the F613.
Present Day Volvo Trucks in the U.S. Industry
Since the 1980s to the early 2000s, Volvo Trucks acquired White Motor Corp. and General Motors to now exclusively sell all vehicles through the Volvo Trucks North America brand name. This parent group also owns Renault Trucks, Mack Trucks and UD Trucks.
In 2005, Volvo Enhanced Stability Technology (VEST) was introduced as standard equipment on highway tractors. VEST continually monitors operating parameters, and detects imminent loss of control, jackknife, or rollover events. The system automatically reduces engine torque and selectively applies braking to help keep the truck on course. The following year Volvo introduced the new family of Volvo D11, D13 and D16 engines designed to meet the US’07 emissions regulations and Volvo I-Shift transmission. I-Shift takes away the physical and mental demands of changing gears, which reduces driver fatigue and provides more time for the driver to give full attention to surrounding traffic.
In 2011, Volvo Trucks assembled its 500,000th truck in the United States.
As of 2016, the company employed more than 52,000 people around the world in eight wholly owned assembly plants and nine factories owned by local interests. Volvo Trucks produces and sells over 190,000 units annually, making it the second largest manufacturer of heavy duty trucks.
Today, the 2019 Volvo VNL and VNR are a culmination of almost a century of focus on safety-measures, driver comfort and equipment reliability. If you need help finding parts for a Volvo or to see some of our Volvo trucks for sale, contact your nearest certified Volvo Truck Dealer or visit a Nextran Truck Centers locations in the Southeast.