For many truck drivers, their vehicle is more than a workplace – it is a second home. By investing in driver comfort and features that make living and working inside a truck everyday easier, businesses are not only investing in their well-being, but also contributing towards attracting and retaining the best drivers.
“With the global driver shortage, we can see that that drivers are having a greater say when it comes to truck specifications and brands,” says Klas Nilsson, Product Manager for the Volvo FH and Volvo FH16. “Many drivers are driving for 8-10 hours per day and living in their cabs for up to seven nights a week. So, it’s no wonder that the level of comfort and convenience provided plays a big role in a driver’s choice of employer.”
Every year, Volvo Trucks meets hundreds of truck drivers across the world and asks them this very question. Its research includes clinics involving drivers, surveys, and deep-dive interviews while meeting drivers at truck stops and work sites.
“We meet a broad range of drivers, from people who primarily drive the truck to those who also use it as a home, and we also have everyone in between,” says Samuel Nerdal, Product Manager Electronics and Electrical Solutions, Volvo Trucks. “By talking to them, we can keep track of perceptions and attitudes, and ensure that our development work remains very driver-centric.”
From speaking to drivers, Volvo Trucks has found that most long-haul drivers generally prioritize sleeping and resting comfort, while those in other segments value driver comfort and field of vision.
“We’ve done this for 20 years and the answers don’t change that much,” adds Klas. “It can change between industries. Drivers on long haul assignments prioritize things like beds and cooking facilities, while for drivers who frequently enter-exit their cab, obviously ease of entry is vital. But overall, these three factors – resting comfort, driver comfort and field of vision – are always important.”
With this input in mind, Volvo Trucks has introduced several new features and upgrades to enhance driver comfort in its latest vehicle range. Top of the line is the new Globetrotter XXL cab, which is 250 mm longer and therefore enables more living space, including a wider bed. The interior design has also been adjusted to improve living space.
For instance, the microwave oven is now installed seamlessly into the cab’s front shelves. In addition, the footstep at the front of the Globetrotter XXL* cab has been extended so that it can be used as a bench. For drivers working in refuse collection or urban distribution, who are required to make frequent entry-exits from the cab, there is now the Volvo FM Low Entry, which brings the driver position down to street level and enables the driver to simply step on and off.
By replacing the side mirrors, the new Camera Monitor System improves direct visibility for the driver, particularly at roundabouts and intersections. The cameras can also contribute to improved personal security when sleeping in the cab overnight, as it enables the driver to see along the sides of the vehicle without having to open curtains or doors.
*The FH Globetrotter XXL cab is not available in South Africa.
Drivers are having a greater say when it comes to truck specifications and brands…and the level of comfort and convenience provided plays a big role in a driver’s choice of employer.”
With drivers expected to perform more tasks in a working day, driver interfaces and digital tools are increasingly vital. To support the drivers in their daily work, a new subscription-based navigation system will be available with the new trucks. Drivers can benefit from a built-in navigation system that is safe, easy to use, and responds quickly to commands and changing driving and traffic conditions.
This navigation is adapted to truck-specific needs, with automatic map updates enabling efficient delivery of goods. It is also integrated with Volvo Connect* and My Business Apps, making it easy and safe to share destinations and routes between fleet managers, drivers and other 3rd parties.
In My Business Apps all Volvo approved 3rd party apps can be assigned to the vehicles in Volvo Connect allowing their usage in the secondary driver display – no smartphones or tablets required inside the cab. With these improvements, drivers can enjoy a safer, more personalized and efficient working environment, and an overall more modern driving experience.
One of the priorities in developing the new cab interiors has been to enhance the HMI (human-machine interfaces). The in-cab display screen has been simplified with widgets and apps, making it clearer and easier for drivers to access the required tools and functions when needed.
In addition, the number of USB ports has been increased from three to six for the Volvo FH, and from one to four for the Volvo FM. A major improvement across the whole range is the in-cab sound system, which has been completely overhauled with new speakers to improve the overall sound quality. It is also available with an improved external digital amplifier and subwoofer for even better sound.
“The sound system is something that drivers increasingly value because they spend so much of their day listening to audiobooks, the radio or their media,” says Samuel. “We therefore put a lot of effort into improving it and now you can really hear the difference.”The key remote is now standard on all vehicles with the functionality of shutting down the battery power. Making it easier to save power and preserve the truck’s batteries’ lifespan. In addition, it also has the functionality of performing a lamp check.
The sound system is something that drivers increasingly value…We therefore put a lot of effort into improving it and now you can really hear the difference.”
For many drivers, the biggest discomfort comes from the mental and physical strain of having to sit still for long periods, while continuously making small adjustments to the vehicle’s speed and direction. To help ease the workload on the driver, Volvo Trucks developed Volvo Dynamic Steering, which helps reduce the need for such adjustments to create a smoother driving experience.
The latest updates to Volvo Dynamic Steering include Pilot Assist, a system that continuously monitors the truck’s position on the road and provides light steering assistance if the vehicle drifts out of its lane. It also monitors the vehicle ahead to ensure a safe distance. When driving on slopes and hills, Volvo Trucks’ I-See uses map-based data to anticipate the upcoming topography and preemptively selects the optimal gear and torque to enable a smoother journey.
“If a truck is specified with I-See and Pilot Assist, you can essentially drive in cruise control at any speed and in just about any situation, even in roundabouts or in dense traffic,” says Klas. “This not only makes the driver’s job easier, but it also means they’re safer. And on top of that, you could also save fuel.”
To learn more about what you can do to attract and retain truck drivers, read our earlier article, which covers:
*Volvo Connect is Volvo Trucks' fleet management system and gateway to all Volvo Trucks digital services.