Commercial truck design is not something one would normally think of when discussing vehicles. Sure, there are times driving down the interstate when you think, "How is that aerodynamic?", but usually such thoughts are relegated to the "not worth discussing zone". Now that that's out of the way, let's talk truck design.
Designer Patrik Palovaara says, "It's true that truck design is largely about rational factors like aerodynamics and ergonomics. But there's also an emotional dimension. The truck's appearance is strongly linked to both its function and its identity and, by extension, to its brand."
Knowing where he's coming from, here's his latest design for Volvo Trucks: the FMX construction truck. Derived from the FM, the FMX takes the basic layout of its predecessor and adds certain details that accentuate its toughness.
As an example, look at the lower bumper. A brand new (and sturdier) towing system is integrated into that area, providing what truck customers would see as a more "powerful" face (separating the FMX from the FM further).
The process from idea to physical product is fairly straightforward: speak with consumers, get a feel for their needs and wants, and start sketching. A lot. When a design is chosen, CAD comes into play "to verify factors such as ergonomics, aerodynamics and functionality for the new truck." After the design is digitally perfected, a clay model is sculpted.
But how do you make it special?
Tapio Alakörkkö, Department Head at the Umeå Institute of Design (which works with Volvo Trucks), says, "For us, a good truck design is about focusing on the driver and finding out how we can make his working day easier and develop his work routines - not least so that more women will choose to become truck drivers."
Interesting, but I think we all saw how THAT turns out in Pee-wee's Big Adventure.
By Phil Alex