The bold redesign of the Volvo Trucks aerodynamic cabs was a long process. Design Director Jonathan Disley explains how its new, distinct identity and functionality encompasses a new era of energy efficiency.
In 2019, the EU confirmed that it would be amend the Weight and Dimensions Directive for trucks, opening up new design possibilities. The Volvo Trucks exterior design team were already in discussions with engineers about an improved aerodynamic cab that would optimize energy efficiency for truck businesses. Now, it was time for a redesign like never before.
“The change in the EU legislation was a great opportunity for us to increase efficiency and build on what we have done previously,” says Jonathan Disley. “Our objective was a more visibly efficient truck with simplicity and aerodynamic expression at the heart of the design.”
In close collaboration with Volvo Trucks’ aerodynamics experts and engineers, the design team began to look at how they could shape and fine-tune the cab to make it more energy efficient.
“We searched for the latest inspiration in aerodynamics, from cars to ships and even within aerospace. Our aim was to develop a more progressive design for the future. We also wanted to enrich this with our Scandinavian heritage and Volvo’s classic design cues,” says Jonathan Disley.
Image boards, sketches, in-depth discussions on the design concept and EU regulation were all part of the initial development process. They led to one of the biggest and most exciting changes - the new Volvo FH Aero, which has been extended by 240 mm to maximize aerodynamic efficiency. The dimensions of the lower and upper corners on the cab front have also been carefully calculated and reshaped, with smoother and more curved lines to optimize air flow around the truck.
On the Volvo FH Aero and standard cabs, a new Camera Monitor System with a sleek ‘wing’ design replaces the side mirrors to improve air flow. New, linear position lights that echo the iconic Volvo V-lamps feature in the top corners of the front face and are visually integrated into the ‘black off’ panels.
In parallel, the iconic Volvo Iron Mark was reimagined. Now it is bigger, with a simplified, elegant design to reflect the digital, efficient era.
“The redesign has been a work in progress since before the pandemic,” explains Jonathan Disley. “Despite the practical challenges, we found a way forward, slowly implementing big and smaller changes to embrace our main objective - a premium look and feel that helps to save fuel and energy to truly benefit truck operators.”
On the Volvo electric truck range, the upper and lower grilles feature a new efficient, honeycomb design that creates a seamless, refined look. This is combined with black headlamps and a white Volvo Iron Mark.
“The aim was a simplified Scandinavian design that reflects our move towards increased sustainability and electromobility,” explains Jonathan Disley.
On diesel trucks, the top grille features the same striking honeycomb design as the electric trucks. The change allows customers to have a choice of basic or enhanced trim colors on the Volvo FH lower front. On the Volvo FH16, the finish is bolder, with a bright chrome trim, silver upper grille and dark chrome lower grille for a more powerful look.
“Our objective was more visibly efficient trucks with simplicity and aerodynamic expression at the heart of the design.”
The design team also decided to create more space between the windshield and lower grille for customer and partnership branding.
“It wasn’t just about designing a new efficient identity - we listened to customer feedback and recognized that this was an important feature for many truck businesses,” says Jonathan Disley.
The lower grille with integrated step can now be fully opened to reveal a surprise function for increased driver comfort – a bench with cup holders for sitting during breaks. The front split has also been lowered and adds a sense of speed to the design.
“While the changes are primarily about energy efficiency, they also provide more customer focus, functionality and opportunities for truck customization,” says Jonathan Disley. “That’s because it is a very collaborative environment at Volvo, where design ideas and customer feedback are continuously shared and taken onboard.”
A distinct new ‘aerodynamic’ identity with a Scandinavian approach that applies across the entire Volvo Trucks range.
All Volvo truck models (FH Aero, FH16 Aero, FH, FH16, FM, FMX)
Bold, new design features:
Redesigned Volvo Iron Mark, word mark and emblems: