Australian premiere of new Volvo FH

The launch, held in September in Sweden, was one of the most lavish and highly anticipated events ever staged by a truck manufacturer. Back then, the arrival of the new FH Series was huge news in trucking, as the new FH is a completely new truck with many components completely redesigned – including cabin, steering and front suspension. It also introduced a number of electronic innovations, made possible by a new electronic architecture. The changes represented a major step forward and change for Volvo, moving on from the previous FH which had served the brand well for 20 years.

While some of that technology is a little way off for trucking in Australia, the FH has now arrived in this country too, offering customers a totally new truck that raises the bar in a number of areas.

The lavish overseas release was something people will talk about for a long time but so too will the introduction of the truck Down Under be remembered, all due to the fact Volvo recognised the importance of the people who put the trucks together and the city where its Australian head office is based.

Volvo trucks in Australia are assembled at Wacol in Brisbane. Established in 1972, the Wacol plant is the largest truck manufacturing facility in the country, so it was fitting the new FH range would be unveiled in the city centre with a unit under wraps positioned in the CBD’s Queen Street Mall.

The people who actually bolt the truck together were included in release celebrations, so Volvo put all of its Wacol workforce onto buses and transferred them to the city to witness the official unveiling by Brisbane Lord Mayor, Graham Quirk. 

The event was a pedestrian stopper as city workers made their way to work, with many joining the 500+ Volvo people attired in special T-Shirts to mark the occasion. It was a momentous occasion with Volvo Group Australia CEO, Arne Knaben, and Vice President Volvo Trucks Australia, Gary Bone, joining the Lord Mayor as he took the wraps off the truck, revealing the highly polished FH Globetrotter to the assembled crowd.

Brisbane’s Lord Mayor presided over the launch and congratulated the Volvo employees present for their role in the production of the safest Volvo ever. “Volvo is a great advertisement for Brisbane’s high-tech manufacturing sector – employing over 500 workers at Wacol, generating jobs and important economic activity for Brisbane residents and businesses.”

But there was more to be revealed at the event. Volvo Trucks has initiated a grant for Brisbane-based engineering and design students inviting them to help ‘Design Our Future’. Volvo Group President and CEO, Arne Knaben, said this is a grant that aims to encourage young industrial designers and engineers to present their ideas for the future of transport. “The winners of the competition will receive a guided tour of Volvo’s local factories in Australia and in Sweden, and a trip to Volvo’s world-renowned design studio in Gothenburg.

“The new FH is a huge leap forward, not just for Volvo, but for the Australian transport industry. We’re incredibly proud to have played an integral role in the design and development of this truck. We’re also proud to be building them right here in Brisbane – we’re a local manufacturer and every Volvo you see on the road in Australia has been built right here.

“The New FH will carry Volvo into the next decade or more, so its launch seemed an appropriate time to announce this grant,” said Knaben. “In the New FH we have the best example yet of what excellence in truck design can achieve, especially when that design is driven by a clear set of core values. The Volvo Trucks ‘Design Our Future’ grant will help to ensure that the trucks of the future carry safety, quality and environmental care at the heart of their designs. We’re tremendously excited to see what our contestants will come up with.”

According to Volvo, the new FH throws down the gauntlet to the truck industry. With its innovative use of technology, it’s supposed to provide ‘unprecedented safety, comfort and fuel economy’ – ushering in a new era in truck design.

“This is not a facelift of the old FH,” says Gary Bone, Vice President Volvo Trucks Australia Sales. “This is a whole new truck. We decided it was time to start from scratch because the technology available to us made a host of new approaches possible. The FH is the result of years of research and development, exhaustive testing and customer consultation.

“This truck has been subjected to 26 crash tests, a thousand simulated crashes, 200 component tests, 50 sled tests, and 36 full-scale barrier tests in Sweden,” he adds. “We’ve also run over 60 field test trucks in nine countries around the world and driven more testing kilometres here in Australia than anywhere else. Every failure we’ve identified in all of these tests is one less that our customers might experience.”

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