Volvo Trucks new VNL: Lineup overview

Volvo Trucks new VNL: Lineup overview

We dive into the VNL's fuel efficiency, safety and take it for a spin.

Volvo Trucks North America rolled out the Volvo-blue carpet for the new VNL Class 8 truck during a recent media event at the Volvo Customer Center in Dublin, Va. Volvo product managers were on-hand to walk us through the new features and equipment sported in the new VNL. To kick things off, Volvo was keen to note that the new VNL’s up to 10% fuel efficiency improvement over the previous iteration makes a decarbonization impact.

“The battery electric truck market is 1,000 trucks today, but a 10% increase in fuel efficiency in 300,000 trucks, which was approximately the truck market last year, is equivalent to putting 30,000 battery electric trucks on the road,” noted Kyle Zimmerman, manager public relations, ​Volvo Trucks North America. “That’s decarbonization; we’re committed to sustainability.”

With the stage set, lets hit the product details.


To start, the new Volvo Trucks VNL that were on display were early pre-production models. Despite the early days of the VNL, Magnus Koeck, vice president of strategy, marketing and brand management for Volvo Trucks North America, noted that the new VNL is the platform that future powertrain technologies will be built upon–battery electric, hydrogen, natural gas and beyond.

Foreseeing fuel efficiency savings

Chris Stadler, product marketing manager, long-haul, Volvo Trucks North America, doubled down on the VNL’s estimated $20,000 savings compared to the previous VNL iteration.


“Every gallon of fuel saved is 22.4 lbs of CO2 saved,” noted Bobby Compton, product marketing manager, Volvo Trucks North America, who echoed the focus on decarbonization. But Compton was quick to note that decarbonization offered by increases in fuel efficiency pays. “Aerodynamics accounts for 7% of our fuel efficiency improvements.”

Compton provided a bird’s eye view of the new VNL aerodynamics. On the right is the previous VNL model and on the left is the new VNL that touts a “wedge-shaped design” in order to cut through the wind and fairings that aim to close up areas that contributed to fuel efficiency losses, like the tractor-trailer gap.

“How many times a day does a transmission shift in a truck?” Compton asked somewhat rhetorically, noting that it depends on application but it can be thousands of times a day. “Every time a truck shifts gears and you go through neutral, isn’t that idling?”

The new VNL’s automated I-Shift transmission features up to 30% faster shifting speeds compared to its predecessor, Compton said. To reach these shifting speeds, Volvo overhauled of the software, electronics, clutch mechanisms and engineering of the I-Shift. Additionally, the Volvo D13 turbo-compounding engine was also improved with a new seven-wave piston with a shorter piston height, longer connecting rod, smaller injector needle control valves, a variable vane oil pump and improvements to the turbo compounding unit and turbocharger.

Truck spec’ing packages

Perhaps one of the biggest changes fleets will experience of the VNL is the spec’ing process. Volvo Trucks North America is offering spec’ing packages aimed at created the most fuel efficiency, safest trucks for specific applications.

“The important thing when it comes to packages is, yes it simplifies the process, but it puts the most efficient spec into their trucks,” Stadler said. “We’re talking with customers to understand duty cycles and other things like what speeds they’re running. Torque packages are flexible. We can adapt to their application. Powertrain packages and safety packages are all about tailoring the right spec to applications.”


While some package specs can be updated over the air–such as horsepower and torque–others packages require different components and programming and are set at the time of purchase.

Staying even safer

“There’s a cost to safety,” Compton began. “There are so many costs in an accident. A way to try to control the cost of an accident is to try to reduce the chances of an accident happening.”

The cost of a collision is $148,000, with 31% being head-on collisions and 14% side collisions,” Compton said. “If you have an active collision mitigation system, you can reduce the risk of an accident happening 82% to 92%.”

The new VNL’s available active safety features include lane centering, improved maneuvering, adaptive crosswind control, and pedestrian detection alerts, which can even trigger automatic emergency braking for objects directly in the path of travel. The passive features include improved visibility from the new windshield, front and side-curtain airbags, Volvo Dynamic Steering to reduce fatigue, and the optional global rear air suspension system to improve stability, maintain a constant ride height and minimize road shocks.

Here’s the full list of safety offerings:

A deep dive into fuel efficiency, safety, spec'ing packages and decarbonization impact of Volvo's new Class 8 truck.

Keep an eye on FE for hands-on impressions, a VNL walkaround and a 2024 market outlook that potentially answers the question: When will the 2027 engine prebuy start?

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