Filling the spot for a medium length conventional sleeper in its tractor line, Volvo Trucks North America introduced its new VN660 on October 23, 1998. The tractor, first of Volvo's 2000 model-year, is the eighth in the company's new VN series of heavy trucks.
Designed for team operations, the VN660 combines the large interior space of a raised-roof sleeper with the shorter hood and shorter overall length of a medium length fleet tractor. In many ways, the new tractor represents a marriage of Volvo's two other premium highway tractors, the longnose VN770 conventional with an integral raised-roof sleeper and the VN610 medium length daycab conventional tractor. The VN770 has a basic cab length of 123 inches compared to 113 inches for the VN610. With a 61-inch integral sleeper, the new VN 660 has a total length of 173.5 inches. As Chris Patterson, Volvo's executive vice-president-sales and marketing, said during the introduction, the VN660 is a VN770 from the top of the windshield up and a VN610 from the top of the windshield down.
Stand-Up Room Space for operators to work and live is a main feature of the new VN660. The 61-inch sleeper has 98 inches of interior height, tall enough for a driver 6'10" tall to stand erect. This space is easy to use, because the new tractor has an aisle 30 inches wide aisle between the seats.
The sleeper has room for two bunks. The lower bunk is 36 by 79 inches. The raised roof provides enough room for the upper bunk to measure 30 by 75 inches. The VN660 sleeper has separate temperature and fan controls, as well as its own lighting system and power supply. For brighter, more natural light, the sleeper has a large front skylight and two side windows. Windshield and sleeper curtains, as well as window shades, provide privacy for drivers during time off duty.
Storage space is positioned so that it is accessible from either the bunks or the seats. Standard equipment in the VN660 is a three-compartment overhead cabinet, a full-length wardrobe, and locking drawers. In addition the sleeper has room for optional equipment such as a 1.6-cubic-foot refrigerator/freezer and an entertainment center with a television, a VCR, and a compact-disc stereo system with six speakers.
Standard interior for the VN660 is Volvo's Heritage II trim package available in four colors-Spring Green, Summer Blue, Winter Gray and Autumn Red. The Heritage II trim level makes use of vinyl panels with cloth bolsters, vinyl headliners, and seat coverings.VN660 Safety Features
While operator comfort is a key factor in the VN660 design, safety takes top billing. For instance, owners can specify a smoke detector as optional equipment. The smoke detector is designed for highway use, and hardened to withstand truck vibration and electrical interference from vehicle accessories. The smoke detector is powered by a 9-volt standard household dry cell battery. The detector can be switched off temporarily if the driver wants to smoke. It automatically reactivates after a pre-set delay.
The VN660 has a driver's side airbag as standard equipment. Volvo tests show that an airbag used along with a three-point safety belt can reduce driver injuries by 20% compared to drivers protected by a belt alone. Volvo introduced an optional driver's-side airbag for its VN models in September 1996. All VN series trucks ordered after January 1, 1999, will carry airbags.
"We are taking the lead by making a driver's-side airbag standard because customers trust that Volvo will build trucks that are as safe possible," said Marc F Gustafson, president and CEO of Volvo Trucks North America. "They expect Volvo to lead the industry in safety advances, so we must deliver on that belief. Perhaps the most important reason our customers buy a VN product is that they believe Volvo lives up to its brand promise-safety. Knowing that drivers have survived highway accidents-and in many cases walked away uninjured-just reinforces our commitment to develop methods and to invest in technology to discover new ways to ensure that the people who drive the trucks we build are as safe as possible."
Fire Resistant Standards For instance, interior fabrics and materials of all VN trucks are subject to flammability testing more rigorous than those required by federal regulations. The rate at which a fire spreads in new material must be slower than that required by regulation. Volvo also tests aged materials to determine the effects of time on component protective coatings.
The VN660 and other VN models with sleepers have a new bunk restraint designed for effectiveness and comfort. A net system buckles to the top and bottom of the bunk and directly to the back wall of the sleeper. When used properly, the bunk restraint system can protect occupants in the event of a collision, including rollover accidents.
In addition, the VN660 has Kevlar-reinforced dash panels, three-point safety belts, deformable steering wheel, and an energy-absorbing steering column as standard equipment. Extensive testing has shown that these components help reduce the severity of injuries that result from truck crashes. The VN660 also has four emergency exits; in addition to the two tractor doors, the vehicle has two kick-out windows. All this is built into a welded high-strength-steel cab.
Improved Instrument Panel The wrap-around instrument panel of the VN660 is designed to allow drivers to read all gauges at a quick glance and for ease of operation. Many control operations can be accomplished without removing either hand from the steering wheel.
The instrument panel has been designed to provide drivers and maintenance technicians with detailed diagnostic information and quicker response to system faults. The new driver information display on the instrument panel allows fault codes to be read without using a separate hand-held reader.
The display has improved back-lit illumination that can be adjusted to ambient conditions for optimum visibility. It has high resolution and large characters for easy reading. The display is positioned on the instrument panel to the left of the tachometer and is operated by a switch on the windshield wiper control handle.
The display system logs all electronic fault codes, including engine faults, and lights a caution lamp when a fault is detected. Information in the system is easily retrieved for streamlined troubleshooting by a maintenance technician. It also provides a driver with a simple method for reporting vehicle problems.
The new instrument panel and display is standard on the VN660 and all other VN models. It will be phased into production in the first quarter of 1999.
When a VN series truck is ordered with a Volvo engine, the monitoring system can provide increased information, including total and individual trip data. The system can automatically log data such as total engine hours, distance, idle time, fuel use, and engine rpm. To monitor information about a specific trip, the system can be set to log data such as trip distance, engine overspeed conditions, average speed, engine hours, and cruise control usage.
Separate Circuit Grounds To help maintain total truck reliability, 12-volt electrical circuits throughout the vehicle are grounded separately. Each time the ignition switch is engaged, electrical circuits run through a self-test routine.
As factory standard, the new VN660 is equipped with a Volvo VE D12-345 engine rated at 345 horsepower at 1800 rpm. Torque peak for the Volvo engine is 1350 ft-lb at 1100 rpm. As standard equipment, VN660s are equipped with Spicer Life drivelines and a Spicer 151/2-inch Easy Pedal clutch. The clutch is actuated hydraulically. Standard transmission is an Eaton Fuller RT-13709H nine-speed Roadranger. VN660 tractors are built with running gear from Meritor Automotive, including a Meritor FF966 front axle and Meritor RT-40-145 tandem drive axles. Wheelbase for the new VN660 ranges from 203 to 243 inches.
Limited production of the VN660 began in early October 1998 month at Volvo's assembly plant in Dublin, Virginia. Full production begins in January 1999.