Earlier this year, Renault Trucks president Bruno Blin revealed that 2021 is set to see developments in the marque’s long-haul (T) and construction (C and K) ranges, in terms of comfort, safety and productivity.
This would be the most extensive development since the total overhaul of the manufacturer’s ranges in 2013, he said in the Spring; and signalling his company’s intent to think outside of the trailer box ahead of this major refresh, Renault let drivers test the T in the video game Euro Truck Simulator 2. This was the first time anyone had been able to test an upgraded heavy goods vehicle, including the driving position and cab layout, virtually.
Things got a little more solid during July when the overhaul of the three ranges received a world premiere. Driver comfort has become a major focus for OEMs, particularly in developed markets such as Europe where recruitment and retention are huge challenges for fleet owners. Consequently, according to the manufacturer, it has made major improvements in terms of both driving comfort and on-board comfort for the well-being of drivers.
The high level of safety for drivers and road users has also been central to the development of the Renault Trucks T, C and K ranges, says Renault Trucks. For customers, vehicle productivity has also been improved, with ever lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions and increased vehicle availability, due notably to the related Predict predictive maintenance contracts.
It is also changing the exterior design of its vehicles, adopting a more assertive style, particularly in terms of the headlights, which have been reduced in size in order to increase the painted surface of the lower body section. A new honeycomb grille completes the more modern, sleek design of the 2021 Renault Trucks.
The vehicles are fitted with a new three-axis adjustable steering column. This enables drivers to adopt the driving position that suits them best, tailored to their morphology, mission requirements or personal preferences.
The column is adjusted using a single foot control to set both the position and the tilt of the steering wheel. Adjustment with both hands on the wheel and instant locking ensures both precision and safety. In addition, the Neman on the column has been replaced by a start button. As an HGV driver spends an average of nine hours a day behind the wheel, the seats need to remain comfortable throughout the life of the vehicle and be suited to each driver, says Renault Trucks.
It has therefore redesigned its range of seats and now offers a modular range for complete flexibility in terms of settings, choice of combinations and options. The manufacturer has also introduced new textiles, designed to withstand the many climbs in and out of the cab every day. A leather version is also available as an option.
The 2021 version of the Renault Trucks T, T High, C and K also features new and increased storage solutions. A tablet and smartphone holder has been positioned within easy reach of the driver, providing access to several devices simultaneously and charging them via two USB-C sockets. A new A4 document storage drawer has also been added.
On the passenger side, the vehicles have two storage spaces with a total capacity of 7 litres (including a 2-litre refrigerated space).
The manufacturer has recognised that a truck is not only a driver’s work tool, it is also where they rest and sleep. The quality of the bed is therefore crucial. For the driver’s well-being and increased longevity of the equipment, it has increased the thickness of the mattress of the “Serenity” bunk by 13% and doubled the number of springs, providing optimal support thanks to a better distribution of body weight. A washable memory foam mattress topper can be added as an option. The mattress is separate from the base, allowing for the use of fitted sheets.
For added convenience, two USB-C sockets have also been added to the bunk area to make it easier to charge electronic devices, while keeping them within easy reach of the driver during rest periods. Finally, to improve sound quality in the cab, Renault Trucks has teamed up with the French manufacturer Focal, for the supply of hi-fi equipment and speakers.
High safety levels for drivers and road users have also been a core focus in the development of the Renault Trucks T, T High, C and K ranges. The new Renault Trucks T, T High and C are fitted with LED lights as standard. As it is closer to natural light, LED light gives drivers a better perception of contrasts and colours. This significantly improves night-time visibility and therefore safety. Another advantage of LED technology is its reliability and longevity. The life of an LED source is up to thirty times longer than that of a conventional bulb.
Additional LED lights have also been positioned on the inside of the doors to illuminate the door sill for increased driver safety when getting in and out of the vehicle at night. For the optimal safety of drivers, their loads and road users, a number of options are also available, including a mechanical anti-intrusion device (safety door-lock), cameras and presence sensors, as well as vision doors providing excellent visibility of pedestrians and cyclists. Finally, the parking brake emergency application reduces the risk of unexpected vehicle movement when the driver leaves the cab, by automatically activating the wheel lock to stop the truck.
Firstly, the cab’s aerodynamics have been improved around the front grille and wheel arch extensions have been added to improve airflow.
Secondly, the vehicles have been fitted with new technology to further reduce fuel consumption. These include a new version of the Optivision predictive cruise control system and an optimised cruise control system with two selectable driving modes. ‘Eco on’ is the default mode and optimises fuel consumption by adjusting acceleration, gear shifting, cruise control and deceleration, whereas “Eco off” allows drivers to change the driving mode. An indicator gives drivers real-time information about their driving style; the greater the number of leaves, the more economical the driving.
A new “Pulse and Glide” function further improves fuel consumption by maintaining the vehicle’s speed around the Cruise Control set point (+/- 2km/h).
Finally, the new Renault Trucks T and T High vehicles are fitted as standard with class A tyres, the most efficient on the market in terms of fuel economy.
In addition, experts in the Renault Trucks network are able to carry out pre-diagnosis, functionality updates and remote adjustments on vehicles. This reduces the number of visits to the workshop and optimises appointments.
Depending on usage and mileage, oil change intervals for vehicles fitted with 13-litre Euro VI engines can be extended to 150,000 km or 18 months, resulting in lower contracted maintenance costs (labour and parts), optimised maintenance schedules with fewer service stops and additional fuel savings.
Looking back at the genesis of these new models Paul Daintree, says the teams at the Renault Trucks Halle du Design have been working on the evolution of the T, T High, C and K ranges since 2018. The reflection has been developed in close collaboration with partner customers.
“It’s crucial for designers to put the end user at the centre of their thinking and decision-making”, explained Daintree. “We organised collaborative work sessions with our customers in the design studio and visited truck stops and customer depots to meet hauliers and drivers in order to understand their needs and respond to them.”
This field work by the design teams, shared with information gathered from the dealer network and the expertise of Renault Trucks engineers, formed the basis for changes to the vehicles in terms of style and comfort.
“The vehicle front has been redesigned to allow more space for our customer paint schemes and graphics,” Daintree added. The front lighting has been totally renewed using LED technology, which not only has the benefit of providing better illumination, but also enables designers to reduce the height of the headlamp unit and fit more features into a smaller area. A deflector has been added over the top of the lights.
“The front proportions have been completely overhauled – the truck has more presence, more attitude and an immediately identifiable focus.”
The redesigned front grille creates a more sophisticated, automotive look. The fold-down function, by which the grille can be turned into a seat or step, stays the same due to its popularity with drivers.
Lastly, the size of the Renault Trucks logo on the front grille has been increased. “We have great trucks and we’re really proud of this new design, so why not show it?” enthused the Renault Trucks Design Director.
The ultimate focus within the interior has been on improving driver comfort: “In terms of driving comfort, one of our customers’ requests was for our trucks to have a car-like driving position,” continued Daintree.
The new Renault Trucks T, T High, C and K have a new three-way adjustable steering column, with a foot operated button, and a keyless start. This makes it easy for drivers to adapt their driving position to their personal body shape and preferences. Improvements have also been made to the comfort of life on board.
“We decided to improve the comfort of the basic bunk, increasing the thickness and the density of the mattress and doubling the spring count,” For optimal comfort, an overmattress has also been added.
The Renault Trucks designers have also created bigger storage spaces and added dedicated storage for telephones or tablets with USB charging points close by. Non-visible storage includes a new drawer allowing an A4 size notebook or tablet to be safely stored.
Finally, for a perfectly relaxing on-board atmosphere, the fabrics and colours have been changed to soften the contrasts and help relax drivers’ eyes, which are put under considerable pressure during driving sessions.
“Although our current seats are really appreciated, we took the opportunity to update the materials, notably by replacing the traditional full leather seat with an embossed fabric. As with the exterior, we are proud to be Renault Trucks, so the logo has pride of place on the seats,” concluded Daintree.