Volvo is a multinational manufacturing corporation based in Gothenburg, Sweden. The company’s products range from buses to construction equipment, marine drive systems, and more. However, one of their flagship products is semi trucks. In this blog, we’ll learn about the history of Volvo semi trucks, including their beginnings and impact on the entire trucking industry.

When Did Volvo Start Making Trucks?

Volvo started making trucks in 1928. In fact, when the first Volvo car was launched in 1927, the Volvo company was already gearing up to release the first Volvo truck. Their first truck was the LV Series 1, which had a 2.0 L 4-cylinder engine with 28 horsepower. Despite its lackluster features, the company still sold 500 units, thus formalizing the creation of the truck division of the company.


Volvo Trucks, a premium company for semi trucks. (Source: Volvo Group)

Volvo Trucks used to have a separate administration with complete autonomy over their production and manufacturing processes. However, during the corporation’s restructuring in January 2012, Volvo Trucks returned to the control of Volvo Group alongside the purchased Renault Trucks and Mack Trucks.

The headquarters of Volvo Trucks remain in Gothenburg, Sweden. Despite this, the company assembles and manufactures its trucks in numerous factories, including New River Valley, Dublin, Virginia, USA.

What Is the History of Volvo Semi Trucks?

Volvo semi trucks have come a long way. To understand the current design of Volvo models individually, let’s take a look at the units released over the past 30 years:

1985 Volvo WX

The Volvo WX line was the company’s offering for the refuse truck segment. The unit was re-marketed multiple times to accommodate the markets of White Motor, GMC, and Volvo. The standard offer was made with a Volvo VED7 engine with 252 horsepower, leaf spring suspension, tandem axles, and a rear-end ratio of 6.14.


1997 Volvo WX. Source: (Purple Wave)

1988 Volvo ACL

Volvo Trucks released the ACL in 1988. It was powered by a Caterpillar 3406B engine with a 9-speed transmission. While the unit had been a popular choice among truck drivers since its release, it underwent branding challenges in 1995 due to issues within Volvo, GM Heavy Truck, White GMC, and Autocar. All White GMC units were manufactured under the Volvo brand. However, Volvo was still using the model ACL from Autocar.


1988 Volvo ACL. (Source: Rocky Mountain Truck Parts)

1988 Volvo WG

The Volvo WG was launched in 1988 under the collaboration of Volvo, White Motor, and GMC. The product graced a short hood conventional design, which was a combination of Autocar and Volvo designs. 

Surprisingly, Volvo manufactured the unit until 2001. It was ultimately discontinued to make way for more advanced models that met new emission requirements.


1988 Volvo WG. (Source: Big Mack Trucks)

1988 Volvo WIA

Also released in 1988, the Volvo WIA was the main inspiration for the VN series. The model was also produced under the partnership of White Motor, GMC, and Volvo. One of the unit’s downsides was that it was only sold as a sleeper cab, which gave business owners limited options. 


1988 Volvo WIA. (Source: Purple Wave)

1996 Volvo WAH

The Volvo WAH debuted in 1996 and was often modified as a car-hauling truck. The unit was made in collaboration with the White Motor Company. The model offered numerous engine options, such as the Detroit Diesel Series 60, Cummins ISM, and Cummins M11. The Volvo WAH was still manufactured until 2002.


1996 Volvo WAH. (Source: Copart)

1996 Volvo VN

Volvo released the VN series in 1996. It was the second generation of Volvo’s Class 8 over-the-road commercial trucks. Compared to other Volvo semi trucks, the VN series had more engine options, ranging from Cummins M11, Cummins N14, Caterpillar 3406, and Detroit Diesel Series 60. 


1996 Volvo VN. Source: (Volvo Trucks)

In 2000, the line was upgraded with a revised hood, headlamps, and interior and renamed the VNL. The same year, the original VN series was formally discontinued.

1998 Volvo WCA

Volvo released the VCA in 1990. Despite being available only as a day cab, it was configured for numerous vocational applications. The model was made available with five powerful engines, the Volvo D12, Caterpillar 3406, Cummins N14, Cummins M11, and Detroit Diesel Series 60. 


1998 Volvo WCA. (Source: Vander Haag’s Inc.)

The Volvo WCA was discontinued in 1998. Despite this, the durability and reliability of these Class 8 trucks are unquestionable. Because of this, numerous secondhand units are still available on the market. 

2000 Volvo VNL

Released in 2000, the “L” in the VNL was added to the VN series, signifying its long hood. It was considered a tractor-type truck that sported a 6×4 wheel configuration. The model was also made available in day cab, short-sleeper, and numerous sleeper cab options with high and short roofs.


2000 Volvo VNL. (Source: Truck Center Companies)

Due to updated market demands and emission requirements, Volvo released an updated version of the VNL in 2018. It sported a new cab with better aerodynamics, safety features, and ergonomic enhancements. Because of these configurations, the unit became the go-to choice for business owners who wanted to find a sweet spot between exceptional fuel efficiency and excellent driving comfort.

2000 Volvo VNM

Released in 2000, the VNM is a shorter iteration of the famous VNL. The unit was marketed as a regional, bulk, and distribution hauler that can be further modified for pickup and delivery services. Its bumper-to-cab length is 113″, 10″ shorter than VNL’s 123″. Despite having excellent maneuverability and fuel economy because of its size, the driving comfort of the cabin is reduced.


2000 Volvo VNM. (Image courtesy of Cars and Trucks on Pinterest)

The VNM is available in two engines: the D11 with 355-405 horsepower and the D13 with 375-500 horsepower. For the cabin, drivers can select from day cab, flat-roof sleeper, and mid-roof sleeper variants. The line was only available in North America. However, in 2018, it was discontinued to make way for the Volvo VNR.

2002 Volvo VHD

The demand for versatile vocational trucks skyrocketed in 2002. Because of this, Volvo released the VHD series, which can be modified as a dump truck, mixer, flatbed, or other hauling service. Some of its most notable features include its optional set forward, setback steer, and pusher axles. 

In terms of its interior, it graces a high-tech ergonomic cabin that comes with LED lighting, a 7″ colored touch screen, integrated audio, and Volvo’s Position Perfect steering configuration.


2002 Volvo VHD. (Source: Truck Parts Inventory)

2005 Volvo VT

In 2005, Volvo introduced its most famous truck line, the VT series. It was made available in three units, the VT800, VT830, and VT880. It was marketed for owner-operators who mostly stay on their trucks for long periods. Because of this, the units were designed to provide excellent driving comfort thanks to their longer nose hoods.


2005 Volvo VT

The VT line is famous for its powerful Cummins ISX 15L and Volvo D16 16L engines. The two options minimize the transport time through excellent driving speed, even on the heaviest loads and most challenging terrain.

2006 Volvo FE

The Volvo FE is a medium-duty truck released in 2006. It had the same engine and gearbox as the Volvo FL, but with a more powerful engine of 320 horsepower. The unit was made available in day cab, comfort cab, and sleeper cab units. In 2013, Volvo released a second generation of the model. 


2006 Volvo FE. (Source: Walker Movements)

2013 Volvo VNX

The Volvo VNX was dubbed a “heavy haul’s heavy hitter” due to its powerful engine that can go up to 600 horsepower and 2,050 lb-ft torque. Released in 2013 at the Mid-America Trucking Show, the unit is marketed for heavy-duty vocational applications such as logging, machinery transportation, and long combination vehicles.


2019 Volvo VNX. (Source: Volvo Trucks)

The VNX line is available in 3 models: the VNX 300 day cab for local use; the VNX 400 sleeper for regional tasks; and the VNX 740 sleeper with the highest torque powertrain for long-distance heavy hauling.

2013 Volvo VAH

The Volvo VAH was released to the public in 2013. In a brave attempt, Volvo designed the model according to EPA13 emission standards with technology and safety standards up to the year 2021. 

The VAH was initially designed for car hauling, but numerous business owners modified the unit for other vocational uses. The model was made available with both Volvo D11 and D13 engines, and it’s still being manufactured today.


2013 Volvo VAH. (Source: BidFax)

2018 Volvo VNR

Formally launched in 2018, the Volvo VNR was offered as a regional hauler. According to the company, the unit was designed to deliver productivity and efficiency for long-hauling. The VNR is marketed as a possible option for numerous vocational tasks such as delivering food and beverage, petroleum and oil, dry and liquid products, and more. 


2018 Volvo VNR. (Source: Excel Truck Group)

The VNR line had four models: the VNR 300, a lightweight and efficient day cab; the VNR 400 for overnight and regional bulk hauling; the VNR 640 for all-day hauling; and the VNR 660 for companies looking for increased cargo capacity. 

What Is the Impact of Volvo on the Trucking Industry?

Volvo Trucks is famous for its sustainable and efficient engines. The company takes pride in its six pillars of production: materials, production, fuel, exhaust emissions, maintenance, and recycling. Most units are made of recycled materials. In fact, 1/3 of the total weight of a new Volvo truck is made of salvaged materials. 

This vision is reflected in how Volvo releases new models. Instead of producing new designs every year, the company opts to improve and modify its existing units. This extends the lifespan of aftermarket parts, further supporting the products’ sustainability. Furthermore, all Volvo semi trucks are verified to be highly durable. This gives operators excellent resale value.

What Are the Essential Upgrades for Volvo Semi Trucks?

Like any truck, Volvo units still need aftermarket upgrades. Regardless of how durable and reliable Volvo trucks are, maintenance procedures are essential to ensuring your semi trucks’ overall riding performance and driving comfort.

For instance, it’s best to look for premium semi truck parts for your HVAC systems. Since Volvo models are primarily designed for heavy-duty hauling, they are mainly used around the clock and exposed to harsh weather conditions. These factors can significantly affect the performance of your HVAC units, which may affect the engine’s power, fuel economy, and overall riding comfort of your semi truck.

Enjoy the Premium Performance of Your Volvo Semi Truck

Volvo’s contribution to the trucking industry is undeniable. With their powerful yet sustainable engines, Volvo semi trucks are definitely here to stay. So, if you’re lucky enough to have one, make sure you make the most of your unit’s premium performance by getting high-quality semi truck parts.

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