Volvo Returns to Heavy-Haul Market with 2nd Gen VNX

By Tom Berg, Truck Editor | March 15, 2018
Volvo Trucks has introduced its second generation VNX heavy haul tractor

Volvo Trucks has introduced its second generation VNX heavy haul tractor, serving carriers of construction equipment, machinery, bulk commodities, logs and other high-weight cargoes. It offers Cummins X15 Performance Series engines as well as its own D13 diesel, both mated to automated or manual transmissions with custom chassis specifications for individual customers.

The X15 replaces the Volvo D16 diesel that was discontinued in January 2017 for lack of sales, causing a temporary withdrawal of the first generation VNX that came only with the D16.

VNX is an extra heavy-duty version of Volvo’s VNR regional tractor. Though it has high ground clearance so it can venture off road, it is primarily a highway hauler. It is rated for gross combination weights of up to 225,000 pounds.

Heavy haul is a small segment of the Class 8 market, but Volvo wants to be represented in it so customers need not go elsewhere for such vehicles, executives said at the March 14 introduction at Volvo’s Customer Center adjacent to the New River Valley assembly plant in Dublin, Va.

VNX has blacked out front-end styling and a redesigned interior shared with other Volvos. A steeply sloped hood aids aerodynamics and forward visibility. Fender flares contain water and mud splash from wide-base steer-axle tires, and wheel cuts of up to 45 degrees aid maneuverability. 

Short trips around a 1.1-mile paved track showed that like other Volvos, VNX has a smooth ride, quiet operation and exceptionally easy operation with heavy duty versions of the I-Shift 12-, 13- or 14-speed automated manual transmission. When spec’d with the Cummins X15, it will use multi-speed Eaton Fuller Ultra Shift Plus AMTs. Either engine series can also be had with Eaton 13- and 18-speed manual transmissions.

At the introduction, four pre-production tractors were hitched to four types of trailers: A lowboy carrying a Volvo CE grader; a side-dump carrying gravel; a B-train double flat carrying two massive pieces of granite; and a B-train double log bunk combination. GCWs ranged from 90,000 to 125,000 pounds, and the Cummins and Volvo engines never lacked for go-power.

Like Mack, Volvo prefers to sell vertically integrated trucks with Volvo powertrains, but does offer the 15-liter X15 in VNL highway models. Only about 10 percent of VNLs get Cummins power, but a higher percentage of VNX buyers are expected to choose the big-bore Cummins.

Two X15 ratings, 565 and 605 horsepower and 1,850 and 2,050 lb-ft., respectively, will be available. The 12.8-liter D13 will come in ratings of 455 and 500 horsepower with 1,750 and 1,850 lb-ft., or with variable torque outputs that Volvo calls EcoTorque.

Customers can order VNXes now, but because of a long backlog of other models, production might not begin until this summer.


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