Volvo Trucks has its headquarters in Sweden and is considered to be the second biggest brand of heavy truck manufacturer. It is owned by Volvo Group-AB Volvo. As of 2011, Volvo was making their trucks in 15 different countries and has been selling more than 100,000 trucks a year all over the world. The Volvo Group also consists of trucking companies Renault, Mack, and UD trucks.
Early History of Volvo Trucks
Volvo produced its first truck in 1928, but had also been making cars the year before. The first truck was the LV series 1. It came with a 2.0 L four-cylinder engine that had 29 horsepower and that first year they sold 500 of this model. While most trucks of this era had chain-drive systems and solid rubber tires, Volvo was being innovative and the LV truck was shaft-driven and had pneumatic tires.
This model was much more of a success than Volvo expected and unlike other trucks made in the 20s, Volvo had designed the entire vehicle. After the first 500 sold out quickly, they had to hurry to do a second series of 500 more trucks, which were considered Series 2 and had a few modifications, such as widening its track to 1,460 mm, and reducing the previous double rear axle to only one, which made it safer, though it drove slower.
Volvo Produces First Six Cylinder Trucks
In 1929, Volvo Trucks came out with the very first six cylinder truck, dubbing it the Series 3 truck. It was fairly close to the Series 2 trucks in design however, so only the motor was different. It had wooden wheels, which were not that practical for heavy work and its two wheeled brakes were not considered as safe as brakes nowadays for the weight of these medium duty vehicles. The company manufactured and sold about 3,000 of these trucks.
Volvo Makes First Three Axle Trucks
In the 1930s, Volvo came out with their first truck with three axles, which was called the LV64 LF. It was made to comply with the rules then that only allowed smaller loads on each axle due to the fact the roads in the 30s were pretty terrible.
Volvo Trucks in the 1930s
The 1930s was when Volvo began to be a lot better at making more modern style trucks and their trucks were using diesel fuel and changed from wooden to steel wheels and to hydraulic style safer brakes.
With this move to be more innovative, Volvo became a more dominant force in the Nordic countries for selling and making trucks, and by the end of the 30s they were more recognized in the world of heavy and medium weight trucks.
The LV series of trucks were considered more modern and helped to get Volvo established as a big exporter of trucks to countries all over the world. During this time frame Volvo continued to make improvements in their trucks, making chassis changes, longer wheelbases in some models, and larger margins for overload in off road style trucks.
Especially the LV 8 and 9 were considered to be models that helped Volvo have a stronger position as a major player in producing trucks. In these models, the truck engine was moved from the usual spot behind a front axle to sit on the top of the front axle, which helped make for better distribution of axle load. Since there were road restrictions concerning axle weight, this made these two trucks very popular.
Plus, these trucks had a more aerodynamic design and were rounded instead of having the usual more vertical or horizontal shapes. Plus, drivers were happy that these trucks had a standard heater, which many at that time didn’t have. The LV 8 and 9 were also more able to be modified and adapted to do a variety of jobs.
Volvo in the 1940s
World War II in the 1940s caused Volvo to go into producing trucks for the Swedish army more so than for anyone else. This relationship with the military helped Volvo long term because it gave them a chance to develop rough terrain trucks that later could be produced for the construction field.
By the mid 1940s Volvo was getting more experienced in the heavy duty type trucks, something they hadn’t done much of prior to the war. The L29 trucks that came out were a more powerful style with a diesel engine and were introduced in 1946. The Swedish road commission was pleased with them because these trucks were good at handling the harsh weather and in helping with road construction in Sweden.
Volvo’s First Diesel Engine
Volvo also made their first diesel engine in the 40s called the VDA, or Volvo Diesel Type A, which was a pre-combustion style of motor. However, it proved to be hard to get going in cold weather, so a newer version was brought out in 1946 and became very popular in Volvo’s trucks. The later LV series of Volvo trucks had this new diesel engine in some of them.
Volvo Trucks in the 1950s
Volvo’s next vital change in their motors came in the 50s, when they change to a direct ignition VDC engine, which was better in fuel consumption levels. It is considered the ancestor to today’s Volvo truck engine. Volvo was considered a pioneer in using a turbo charged engine that was stronger and more efficient. Plus, Volvo was then able to make heavier weight and longer style of trucks.
Volvo in the 1960s through the 1990s
Trucks were very popular for transportation by the 60s and were becoming a more flexible tool. By then, the truck cabs had rubber suspension systems, more visibility due to higher up cabs, and more comfort for drivers in the seats as well.
The 1970s brought more refinements for trucks in general and they had tilt cabs, turbocharged engines, better horsepower, and could go faster. Two very dramatic entries into the world of Volvo trucks were the F10 and 12 trucks that were made in 1977. They had better ergonomics and were safer and set the stage for trucks of the next few decades.
In the 1980s, trucks were getting more sophisticated with stronger and better motors, air suspension systems, and more earth friendly features, plus more ways to make the truck drivers more comfortable on those long hauls across the country.
Plus, trucks were getting even more valuable as a means of transporting goods and services across the U.S. and elsewhere and were considered very efficient, especially when they could combine them with sending products from the manufacturer to the rails, sea or air by bringing them from their originating places by truck.
Trucks were getting safer, had cleaner emissions, were less noisy, had better engines and were getting more refined in several ways.
Today, Volvo is going strong and has manufacturing in Sweden, Belgium, South Africa, the US, Brazil, Australia, India, China, and Russia and several other places. They are famous for being a global presence in truck manufacturing.
The 21st Century Volvo truck is even stronger, as well as being safer and more earth friendly that it has ever been. They make several models of trucks all over the globe and by 2011 Volvo had made more than half a million trucks in the U.S. alone. The Volvo Group is a leader in the manufacturing of trucks, buses and construction gear and is a lead producer of heavy duty diesel engines worldwide.
Volvo Trucks produces vehicles in 19 countries and sells them in more than 180 markets worldwide and is still taking innovative steps in the world of trucking.