Volvo has tried hard to improve handling and road manners on the new FH series. Optimisation of both front and rear suspension systems, increased roll stability and better cab suspension all help to give the new Volvo FH a superior ride and handling. With the unique individual front suspension – initially available only on left-hand drive vehicles – the new FH will become even better.
Optimisation of geometry, improved front and rear suspension design, enhanced cab anti-roll properties and well-balanced damping for cab and chassis alike. These are the factors behind the 50 per cent improvement in roll stability compared with the previous FH series, according to Stefan Axelsson, manager of handling and ride at Volvo Trucks.
Improvements to the chassis and cab also mean that the new Volvo FH has better directional stability. All told, the combination of anti-roll and directional stability gives the driver an enhanced feeling of precision and control, thereby making overall progress on the road less tiring.
“The new truck feels stable and predictable on the road. We’ve also succeeded in giving it excellent steering feel – the steering wheel provides accurate and sensitive feedback on the truck’s movements. The steering wheel’s new neck-tilt function also means that any driver, whatever their build, can enjoy a really comfortable seating position,” explains Axelsson.
Steering and anti-roll stability have a direct effect on the driver and an indirect effect on the operator’s profitability.
“A better truck means the driver feels less fatigued, which in turn leads to a more relaxed driving style. An alert driver is safer and will get the job done better, irrespective of whether it is about driving the truck or meeting the customer at the end of the route,” says Axelsson.
The new Volvo FH series is also the world’s first heavy truck with Independent Front Suspension (IFS) coupled with rack and pinion steering – two new features that have a radical effect on both ride and handling – although initially only available on left-hand drive vehicles.
“IFS will mean that the front wheels have independent suspension – one wheel’s movements will not affect the other. The result is steadier, more stable progress on the road,” says Martin Palming, product manager at Volvo Trucks.
Independent front suspension has long been fitted to passenger cars and even buses for some time now. IFS increases both comfort and stability.
Rack and pinion steering is further technology that has been brought over from the world of cars. A steering shaft equipped with gears transmits the driver’s steering wheel input more directly to the wheels than with a conventional steering gear. The benefit for the driver is crisper road feel.
“This truck sets the benchmark as regards directional stability as well as ride and road-holding in bends. It’s quite simply an amazing sensation to drive a fully-laden combination with such exactness and security. With truly impressive precision, the truck follows the line you set through the bend, without needing any additional steering wheel movement to keep it on course,” says Palming about the new technology.
“The Volvo FH without IFS will be number one on the market as regards ride and handling, but the Volvo FH with IFS will simply be the icing on the cake. We’ve put a lot of emphasis on getting there,” says Palming.
IFS will initially only be available for left-hand drive new FH vehicles on the European market in spring 2013, with the right-hand drive option to follow soon after.