Despite disruption caused by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis in Europe, Diesel News’ European Correspondent, Will Shiers, witnessed the show when Volvo virtually launched four new trucks as a live online broadcast, interacting with the event from his office computer.
Two days prior to one of the most significant launches in its 92-year history, the early spread of COVID-19 in Europe forced Volvo Trucks to cancel the huge press event it had planned in its hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden.
So, instead of seeing its all-new FM and FMX, and the facelifted FH and FH16 in the metal, the world’s press was forced to tune in to a live on-line broadcast. Fortunately, I have since had the chance to spend some time in an FMX cab, but at the time of writing, I’m yet to drive any of the new models.
All New FM and FMX
So, what’s new? Well, let’s start with the smaller FM and FMX, which are undoubtedly the biggest story here. Volvo could have saved a fortune by simply borrowing the Range T cab from sister company Renault Trucks, like it did with the FL and FE, but instead decided to start with a completely fresh sheet of paper.
Well actually that’s a slight exaggeration, because instead, what its designers have done is produce a scaled-down version of its existing FH cab. This becomes blatantly obvious when you look at the front three-quarter profile, where the same angled A-pillar and side profile lines are immediately obvious. It’s a clever idea, and the design exercise has been executed perfectly, giving Volvo’s popular fleet truck a stylish and instantly recognisable family resemblance.
Despite losing the raked windscreen, which gave the current generation FM and FMX a wind-cheating profile, Volvo claims that the new versions are more aerodynamic. It’s reportedly done this by closing the gaps between the panels on the front of the cab. Although there are no official claims, a Volvo spokesman told me that the improvement is likely to be in the region of two per cent.
One of the most striking visual differences is the headlamps. The standard offering, likely to prove popular with fleets, are regular halogen lights. But there is also a V-shaped LED option, which not only looks attractive, but has obvious safety benefits too.
The LED headlamp cluster now incorporates indicators, with the ‘V’ changing from white to orange when signalling to turn. Both the FM’s and FMX’s grilles are new too, and the Volvo ‘iron mark’ has apparently been subtly redesigned, but you’re forgiven for not noticing this!
Visibility has been greatly enhanced by the fitting of the FH’s slimline rear view mirrors. But why this didn’t happen eight years earlier is a mystery to me. The FMX uses the same glass as the FM, but the mirrors are mounted on thin poles, somewhat reminiscent of the FL10.
Interestingly there are no plans to introduce a camera and monitor system like Mercedes-Benz’s MirrorCam. “We don’t need to as our mirrors are class-leading, with virtually no blindspot,” a Volvo spokesman told me. But what Volvo does now offer is a blindspot detection camera, mounted into the bottom of nearside mirror casing. It projects an image onto the central screen. The driver’s view to the sides has been enhanced too, a consequence of the new cab having lower side windows.
Access to the FM was never an issue, thanks to two well-placed steps and wide aperture doors. Now the FMX’s access has been improved too, with the addition of new non-slip surface steps.
There are two exterior trim levels to choose from; Basic and Enhanced. The latter adds painted bumpers and mirror casings, a thunder grey grille, and a few splashes of aluminium.
When it comes to the driveline, there aren’t any changes, which is no bad thing. Truck operators are a conservative bunch, and there’s nothing more likely to make a buyer nervous than a completely new engine and gearbox.
In Europe, the FM and FMX both come with a choice of 11-litre (330hp, 380hp, 430hp or 460hp) or 13-litre (420hp, 460hp, 500hp) diesel engines, while the FMX is also available with 540hp. All are matched to the I-Shift transmission, while 13-litre FMs and FMXs have the option of I-Shift Dual Clutch.