Designing an efficient truck for the future

Jonathan Disley
Technology & Innovation Fuel efficiency Saving Fuel
Jonathan Disley
Design Director

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.”

Finding inspiration and the process behind the new cab 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.”

A functional, sustainable design with a customizable finish

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 summary of the new Volvo Trucks design: changes and benefits

A distinct new ‘aerodynamic’ identity with a Scandinavian approach that applies across the entire Volvo Trucks range.

Volvo FH Aero and Volvo FH16 Aero  – a new era of efficiency

  • Volvo Trucks’ most optimum cab design for energy efficiency, with a front face that has been extended by 240 mm. With all the new aerodynamic cab improvements, the Volvo FH Aero can extend electric truck range and lower fuel costs.
  • Refined honeycomb grille pattern for maximum efficiency (top grille on diesel trucks and both top and bottom on electric trucks, with possibility to color coordinate for a seamless look).
  • Wrap around front corners that maximize aerodynamics.
  • A more sculpted design with a front kick that enhances the lower aerodynamic front.
  • Prismatic lower front grille for enhanced 3D effect on diesel trucks.
  • Extra-large front step that can be completely lowered to provide a bench with cup holders for the driver.
  • More space between the windshield and grille for a customer focused Partnership panel.
  • Raised rubber extensions that better seal the trailer gap.
  • Fully integrated front handles below the windshield to improve air flow.
  • Iconic V-shaped headlamps in black on Volvo FH16 and Volvo electric trucks.
  • U-shaped lower grille frame with more options to customize finish.
  • Raised Volvo Spread Word Mark in dominant position closer to the driver.

All Volvo truck models (FH Aero, FH16 Aero, FH, FH16, FM, FMX)

Bold, new design features:

  • Sleek, motorized Camera Monitor System ‘wing’ design for improved air flow. The infra-red camera improves driver visibility and safety at night.
  • Smoother, sealed black off panels to improve air flow at the top of the cab.
  • Distinct, linear light signature in top corners that is integrated into the ‘black off’ panels.
  • Sustainable, LED lights throughout the truck exterior.

Customization possibilities:

  • Satin/bright chrome or pearl white finish on Volvo Iron Mark slash and emblem, depending on truck model.
  • Possibility to choose trim color at lower front end.

Redesigned Volvo Iron Mark, word mark and emblems:

  • Reimagined Volvo Iron Mark design that is bigger, with a simplified, more elegant look to reflect era of digitalization and efficiency.
  • Refined truck model emblems for a more modern, digital look.

Explore the new truck range design - explained by our design director