Volvo commercial director Mike Corcoran, second left, receives the trophy from Chevron Lubricants area business manager, Europe, Rene Huting

Fifty years ago Volvo came to the UK. What better way to mark its half century than the

FH winning the prestigious Fleet Truck of the Year award?

When it was launched in 1993, Volvo’s FH set new standards in terms of comfort, safety, technology and driveability.

Although these qualities would continue to form the backbone of the truck for the next two decades, it was in 2012, with the launch of the fourth generation FH, that all four of these traits took a massive leap forward. “Volvo has just redefined what a premium truck can offer,” MT wrote after attending the much -anticipated Swedish launch event.

We were delighted to learn the new FH featured an entirely new cab, available in low sleeper, sleeper, Globetrotter and Globetrotter XL guises. Volvo had done away with the previous generation’s raked windscreen, creating more internal space (to the tune of 1m3 in the Globetrotter XL cab). Also putting a smile on drivers’ faces were the high-quality, well-appointed interiors, and a host of creature comforts.

The truck’s D13K 12.8-litre engine was initially only available in Euro-5 guise, but the Euro-6 technology quickly followed, and today the truck is offered with a choice of four power ratings: 420hp, 460hp, 500hp and 540hp.

Fleet Truck of the YearVolvo FH41

Although a manual gearbox was initially available, it has since been removed from the UK options list, meaning all right-hand-drive trucks destined for Blighty are now equipped with the Volvo’s hugely respected I-Shift. Although the transmission has long been accepted as the benchmark for two-pedal shifting, this changed in 2012 when Volvo trumped itself, launching I-Shift Dual Clutch, the world’s first dual-clutch transmission for a heavy truck.

Rapid gear shifts meant no loss of momentum, resulting in quicker hill climbs and less fuel

consumed. We got excited about this transmission at its launch, and just like the judges on the Fleet Truck of the Year panel who had experienced it, we continue to wax lyrical about it today. The option costs £2,350.

Dynamic Steering

Another world first introduced on the FH4 was Dynamic Steering, so expertly demonstrated by Jean-Claude van Damme in the Epic Splits viral video. Although take-up by the UK’s notoriously conservative transport industry was slow to begin with, orders are quickly gathering momentum. Its popularity increased this summer when its price was temporarily dropped from £3,900 to £1,500.

Technological advances came thick and fast in 2012, and included I-See, Volvo’s GPS-dependent predictive cruise control. Originally, when a truck encountered a hill for the first time, I-See recorded the rate of gradient change, plus the location of the hill as determined by the GPS. When the truck approached the hill for a second time, this data was used to manage the truck’s control strategy, provided cruise control is engaged. However, it has been continually refined and now, in the latest version, topographical data is downloaded in real time from a central database via the cloud.

Volvo has long been synonymous with safety, and the FH4 was one of the first fleet trucks to be offered with lower-level semi-autonomy via Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping Systems. In addition to the mandatory audible warning, its Automatic Emergency Braking System even provides a heads-up display consisting of a flashing red warning light in the windscreen.

While the technical innovations on the FH make for impressive reading, they would count for little if they couldn’t be transferred into operational efficiency, and here Volvo plays a strong hand. Impressive fuel returns and decent reliability were both remarked on by the panellists with experience of running FHs.

Add to this the positive comments about Volvo’s dealer network, and in particular its Gold Service Contract with its 100% uptime guarantee, and its easy to understand how the truck was awarded the accolade.

But there is one more very important part of the equation to consider when evaluating how good a fleet truck is – and that’s the driver. A big swanky cab equals a happy driver, which in turn equals greater profits. And cabs don’t get much bigger or swankier than the Volvo FH’s.

When the first Volvo F86s arrived on these shores in 1967 they immediately won friends with UK operators, putting domestic trucks to shame, and becoming fleet favourites. Fifty years on, the FH continues to do the same.


“The FH has finally come of age. Really early examples had some niggling faults, but these have definitely been ironed out now, resulting in a fantastic fleet truck”

“The I-Shift is arguably the best gearbox on the market, and the drivers love it”

“There’s no such thing as a bad truck these days, and quite often it boils down to how well you are looked after by the dealers. My local Volvo dealer is great”

“You can’t fault their longevity and reliability. I have one that’s done 1 million km with no issues”

“I’ve never heard a single complaint from any of them [drivers], and they can be away for three or four nights at a time”

Mike Corcoran, commercial director at Volvo Trucks UK, says:

“We are pleased and excited that the Volvo FH has won the coveted Motor Transport Fleet Truck of the

Year Award for 2017. The win is extra special, as not only is Volvo Trucks celebrating 50 years in the UK, but next year marks the 25th anniversary of the launch of the original FH.

“The Motor Transport Fleet Truck of the Year Award is the ultimate barometer of commercial vehicle progress in the UK. Back in 1988, the Volvo FL10 lifted the spoils thanks to its unequalled reliability, profitability and performance figures and almost 30 years later it’s fantastic the FH range still ticks all these boxes and much more, with the added advantage of leading 21st century technology applications.”