MONTREAL. Echoing aerodynamic styling cues from its long-haul VNL Series, Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA) has introduced a new regional tractor. The VNR Series features new interior and exterior designs intended to improve productivity, fuel efficiency, driver comfort and uptime, positioning it for an expected growth in regional hauling applications, according to Goran Nyberg, VTNA president.

Last year regional tractors accounted for 28% of U.S. Class 8 sales and day cabs roughly 40% of total tractor sales, according to figures provided by VTNA. Factors such as the growth of containerized traffic to East Coast ports with the new Panama Canal and a driver shortage pushing fleets to shorter routes and slip-seat operations that get drivers home at night should lead to continued growth in that segment, Nyberg said.

While there will always be a need for long-haul tractors, Wade Long, VTNA's dirctor of product marketing, said those shifting factors could reverse the 60/40 sleeper/day-cab split within the next five years.

The new VNR300 day cab model retains the 113-in BBC length of the Volvo VNM model it is replacing, allowing it to meet various regional overall length restrictions and maintaining maneuverability in tight P&D and urban environments.  It will also be offered in two sleeper versions – the VNR400 with a 42-in flat-roof sleeper and the VNR640 with a 61-in mid-roof sleeper. 

The VNR’s standard engine will be the Volvo D11 with ratings up to 425 hp/1,550 lbs.-ft. torque, and the D13 will also be available for applications that require up to 500 hp and 1,850 lbs.-ft. torque. Both will be matched with the company’s newest generation of the I-Shift 12-spd. automated mechanical transmission, and will be available with 4x2, 6x4 and Volvo’s 6x2 adaptive loading rear axles.

The VNR exterior “brings aerodynamics to a segment that does not typically get them,” Long said at a press conference introducing the new truck. The deeply sloped hood also adds improved forward visibility, while a three-piece bumper wraps in tightly to augment a 50-degree wheel cut for maneuverability. Additionally, flush-mounted integrated LED headlamps are placed on top of the fenders to reduce accidental damage in tight quarters.

The combination of aerodynamics and new Volvo powertrain improvements will deliver up to a 3.5% fuel efficiency gain over the VNM, according to Long.

Inside, the VNR has a completely new interior designed to accommodate a wider variety of drivers as well as ease the frequent exits and entries of local hauling. Highlights include a new steering wheel that not only tilts and telescopes, but can be adjusted by 30-degrees for head tilt and houses up to 19 control buttons. The dash features a 5-in. high-resolution driver information display that can be customized by a driver for relevant alerts and feedback. A separate touchscreen infotainment replaces the radio adding Car Play iOS and Android functions as well as navigation screens and rear view camera display.

The VNR will be offered in three interior trim levels and with seven seat options that include integrated heat and ventilation.  The driver’s seat also features a quick air-release function making it easier for a driver to exit the cab and then return the seat to full pressure. A modular dash rail system can be easily adapted to replace cup holders with a variety of device docks, and there are as many as 12 USB and 12V power connections available.

Like Volvo’s line-haul tractor, the VNR can be optioned with a variety of active safety systems, including its Active Driver Assist adaptive cruise control with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and automatic headlights and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

VTNA will begin taking orders for the new VNR on May 1, with production scheduled to start in August. The current VNM regional tractor will be phased out of production by the end of the year.

Introducing the VNR to customers at an event during the ExpoCam truck show here, Nyberg acknowledged the forces slowly shifting more freight to regional hauling. “The climate [for trucking] is for sure changing,” he said as they unveiled the truck. “We’re here to help you navigate that change with the Volvo VNR, a completely new and re-imagined regional haul tractor.”