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The Bigger the Better

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the bigger the better

For many people, when it comes to truck cabins, it is always the bigger the better, or so it seems. Volvo have come up with a new bigger cabin for the FH, the XXL, so Diesel News checks out one of the new models on a test drive to see whether the adage is true.

Anyone who has spent any time on the road living in a truck will tell you that one of the things which is at a premium in a truck cabin is space. Spending a week or more living in a truck cabin means you have to have quite a bit of gear just to live, but also you need quite a bit more, just in case…

One of the limiting factors for European truck makers competing in the Australian truck market is that their home markets, in Europe, are very strictly limited in overall vehicle length. Standard truck length for a semitrailer in Europe is 16.5 metres, add in the 13.5 metres long trailer and you’re left with just three metres between the front of the trailer and the absolute front of the truck.

Trucks coming out of North America suffer from no such limitation. In the US there are no truck length regulations, the only limiting factor is the practicality of getting a truck and its trailer onto the road and manoeuvring from delivery to delivery point. As a result, trucks there can have enormous sleeping cabins, but it also means that it is not uncommon for a US truck maker to offer something like a 60-inch sleeper here in Australia.

Australia does have length limitations but they are less constricting than the European rules. The growth of the B-double and its domination of the truck market has seen a de facto limitation on the length in the prime mover. Maximum overall length for a B double is 26 metres and the limit for the dimension from the rear of the trailer to the kingpin is 20.5 metres. This gives Australian truck-makers a bit more space to play with than their European counterparts.

Historically, US cabover prime movers have been able to use larger cabins than the Europeans. However, some years ago Volvo in Australia realised it was possible to extend the FH in length by using side panels from the conventional VN models sold in the United States. With a smart redesign of the cabin roof, Volvo had a larger cabin available to compete with the North American prime movers.

The original XXL proved to be quite a successful option. Not only in Australia but also in some areas of Scandinavia where length regulations allowed for bigger cabins, in some cases. Unfortunately, when the new FH was released in 2014 the complete cabin redesign did not include a bigger cabin option.

At the time, the major competition at the top of the heavy duty truck sales charts was between the Kenworth K200 and the Volvo FH. One of the major factors which had increased sales for Volvo was its the bigger the better cabin option.

It has taken some time, but driven by the requirements of the Australian truck market and some other truck markets around the world which would prefer a bigger cabin, Volvo have developed an XXL for the new shape FH. This is the truck which Diesel took for a test drive from Brisbane, west into country Queensland for a night out to check out the sleeping arrangements.

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