Volvo Cab Interior2

Cab amenities: The growing popularity of comfort and convenience

March 24, 2021
While truck driver needs vary when it comes to cab conveniences, commercial truck OEMs have responded with a variety of solutions and options.

While every trucker has different needs and preferences when it comes to cab conveniences, common threads in the decisions they make are all aimed at enhancing comfort on the road. OEMs, in turn, have responded with a variety of solutions and options.

“Selecting amenities that deliver a driver-centric experience creates an environment that will increase comfort and contribute to safety and performance,” said Ryan Major, on highway marketing manager at Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA). “Collaborating with owner-operators and fleet drivers during the product development process helps identify features that are most critical to satisfaction and gives us a deeper understanding of how the truck is part of the driver’s lifestyle.” 

“We see cab amenities as a way to make drivers’ lives easier, more productive, and safer,” explained Allison Athey, product marketing manager at Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA). “Through flexible designs, drivers have the ability to set up the sleeper and work areas exactly how they prefer.”

Volvo, Athey pointed out, offers a range of cab options in its models, including a reclining bunk with adjustable positions that adds an easy-chair feel to the cab. An available workstation is offered as well to give drivers flexibility in personalizing their living space. Volvo also provides a modular rail that lets drivers position cup holders where they’re most convenient and there are accessories that can attach to the rail for additional storage.

In Volvo models, USB and 12-volt charging ports are available for top and bottom bunks and there are popular TV, refrigerator, and microwave options. In addition, a telescopic ladder with ergonomic step positioning for easy and comfortable upper bunk access is designed with torque hinges with quick-release latches and pins so it is easily put away when not in use.

Stu Russoli, highway product manager at Mack Trucks, noted that red floor lighting is now being specified as an important amenity for sleepers, and highly popular is an ambient ceiling light which is dimmable in stand-up sleeper models. “The driver is able to have either the red floor lights or the ceiling light on while driving without affecting visibility and without lighting up the cab interior,” he related.

In Anthem and Pinnacle sleeper models, Mack offers various storage configurations with different cabinets, a refrigerator, and microwave and flat screen prep packages. Additional items often chosen are an inverter and multiple outlets, as well as bunk heaters. Standard amenities from Mack that are favored by drivers include a flat-bottomed steering wheel, LED interior lighting, removable cup holders, and non-slip phone cradles and USB charging ports.

DTNA’s Major reports that the OEM’s standard cab amenities include factory installed parked HVAC systems and cab heaters, which are often chosen for comfort and fuel savings. Customers are also opting for features that contribute to a smooth, quiet ride and provide additional comfort such as premium insulation, he noted, and many are selecting a factory installed AC/DC inverter for operating smaller appliances. Additionally, a new Digital Dash Display on Cascadia models with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connections is getting a lot of attention.

At Kenworth, popular items being specified by drivers include premium seats with height/weight independent suspension systems, microwaves, drawer-style refrigerators, and cabinet and storage units. Drivers are also finding it increasingly useful to spec power management systems with inverters, and battery-based air conditioners and diesel-fired bunk heaters.

The use of in-cab satellite TV is also growing among owner-operators who are seeking to improve their quality of life on the road.

“I’m on the road for two weeks at a time so with EpicVue I can record while I’m sleeping what I want to watch later,” said Brian O’Neil, an owner-operator based in Newton, N.C. “I wanted EpicVue for a long time before it was available for owner-operators and now I couldn’t live without it.”

“There’s always downtime when you’re an owner-operator who’s on the road for a few weeks at a time,” said Seth Headley, an owner-operator from Charlotte, N.C. “EpicVue makes my truck feel like an apartment on wheels, and it’s terrific to be able to watch the same thing I would at home with my family.”

EpicVue in-cab satellite TV for owner-operators and drivers is offered with an optional DVR for a monthly subscription to DirecTV programming that has more than 100 channels, including HBO/Cinemax, Showtime and NFL Sunday Ticket, and without any upfront hardware costs.

“When I was an owner-operator I couldn’t wait for EpicVue to become available and once I expanded my operation to three trucks I bought in-cab satellite TV for all of our vehicles without hesitation,” said Scott Miller at SM Miller Enterprises in Dallas, a premier linehaul contracted services provider. “It makes life on the road much easier for our drivers, and it’s a great recruiting tool.”

About the Author

Seth Skydel

Seth Skydel, a veteran industry editor, has more than 36 years of experience at fleet management, trucking, and transportation and logistics publications. Today, in editorial and marketing roles, he writes about fleet, service and transportation management, vehicle and information technology, and industry trends and issues. 

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