Volvo FH Semi Truck Races a Koenigsegg “Megacar” Around a Track. Yes, Really.
Race Touts Volvo’s New Dual-Clutch Gearbox
Well, this isn’t something you’ll see every day.
In a bid to publicize its new I-Shift dual-clutch transmission (DCT), Volvo Trucks brought the recently redesigned FH cabover to a racetrack in Sweden. However, unlike almost every other truck that’s ever been to a track, the Volvo wasn’t hauling a racer, it was the racer. Volvo even had the gumption to hire racing driver Tiff Needell, who also hosts the popular English TV show Fifth Gear, to hustle the big FH around the track.
As if that weren’t enough of an anachronism, Volvo turned to one of its compatriots to provide some competition for the FH, the Koenigsegg Agera One:1. The One:1 gets its name from its one metric horsepower per kilogram, which is an unheard-of statistic in the production car world. Koenigsegg (rightly) claims that the Agera One:1 is the world’s first “megacar.”
Now, it’s not a totally fair race, as the Koenigsegg has more than 1300 hp and weighs just less than 3,000 pounds. Winning some points back for the Volvo is a torque measurement that’s nearly double that of the megacar, but it’s still not a fair fight, so to level the playing field, the Koenigsegg will need to complete two laps in the time it takes the Volvo to complete one lap. We won’t spoil the ending, but dang, it’s fun watching that big truck pitch and yaw and roll around the race circuit.
As Needell explains, Volvo was keen to show that the FH’s underpinnings are thoroughly sports car-like, and it’s not a far-fetched claim. DCTs got their start on racetracks around the world in the 1980s, and in 2003, the dual-clutch got its first on-road experience in the Volkswagen GTI R32 and Audi TT 3.2 all-wheel drive sports cars. Since then, the dual-clutch gearbox has primarily been the domain of fast rides like the BMW M3 and Nissan GTR.
However, a DCT makes sense in a large vehicle as well, offering smoothness and efficiency that are nearly unmatched by most other automated or full-manual transmissions. Volvo claims that this will reduce driver fatigue, which for a long-haul trucker is very good news. While the cab-over FH isn’t available to American truck drivers, there’s some hope that this next generation of Volvo’s I-Shift technology will come to the company’s conventional US-market trucks.