Sleek Muscle

| December 12, 2008

The VT 880, with massive power under the hood and a price more than $130,000, marks Volvo’s entry into the premium owner-operator market.

Truckers spoke, and Volvo listened. “Our research told us owner-operators want a big hood, an aggressive visual presence, an axle-forward position, a big-bore, high-powered engine, a large, comfortable sleeper and a long wheelbase,” said Peter Karlsten, president and CEO of Volvo Trucks North America.

After $67 million of research and testing, Volvo rolled out its response: the VT 880. The truck has a strong conventional look and is available with a new, hill-taming D16 engine.

“It is our entrance into the premium owner-operator market,” Karlsten said during a press event in Phoenix.

The D16 is a 16.1-liter in-line six-cylinder rated at 625 hp with an unmatched 2250 pounds-feet of torque – 200 more than the nearest competitor.

“With that horsepower and torque option, the VT 880 operating at 80,000 pounds can maintain 65 mph on a 3 percent grade while running at 1,400 rpm,” Karlsten said.

Yet it’s still an “authentic Volvo,” he said, following the company’s traditional emphasis on safety, environmental friendliness and the latest technology.

The VT 880 has a big, polished, all-steel bumper, but with built-in aerodynamics, recessed fog lights and a three-piece design for cost-effective repairs. The chrome grill, 38 percent larger than the Volvo 780′s, creates an imposing presence. The truck’s extended hood is slanted for greater visibility and aerodynamics. Air intakes on the sides of the hood are framed in chrome with inset LED marker lamps. The 77-inch condo’s sleeper berth converts to a table and bench seats that comfortably hold four.

Moving the cab rearward and the front axle forward created 200 inches between bumper and back of sleeper for a smoother ride and more space between engine and cab, which reduces noise. Lighter-colored interior packages, featuring leather seats and coordinated trim, make for a roomier feel and tasteful style. “We wanted to create the same feeling you get in a custom yacht or private jet,” said design director Ruben Perfetti.

The D16 is cast and machined in Sweden and assembled in Hagerstown, Md. Its Volvo engine brake provides 335 braking horsepower at 1500 rpm. The exhaust pressure governor decreases warm-up time and allows plenty of cab heat in cold weather at a 600-rpm idle – consuming only a half-gallon of fuel an hour – without damaging pistons or cylinders.

Using electronic sensors, the driver can drain the fuel filter and check the oil from inside the cab. The huge, 1.1 square-meter radiator and enlarged cooling fan provide the increased cooling necessary for the heat that will accompany tougher emissions standards in 2007 and 2010. The big-bore, short-stroke design decreases piston, cylinder and crankshaft wear.

The D16 introduces Volvo’s Intelligent Torque, or I-Torque, to protect drivelines from excessive torque at low speeds. I-Torque should extend tire wear and protect drivelines by limiting engine torque output to 1650 pounds-feet in startup gears, switching to 1850 and then 2250 pounds-feet as speed increases. Two stages are used to phase in the higher torque for the 600-hp and 625-hp ratings.

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