Recent news from Volvo that they have released the details of their latest FH16 has led us to delve into the question of who makes the most powerful truck available today.
It’s important to stress that it is easy to make a truly powerful truck; you only need to look at the race trucks and record breakers to know that these truck with huge engines are capable of significantly higher outputs than we see on UK and European roads.
The trick is to make the engines powerful yet durable.
Also, the global truck market is made up of three highly disparate segments. There are the Europea, American and Asian trucks (Primarily Chinese and Japanese). These do overlap, typically in the emerging markets in Africa for example where they will take new Chinese trucks or used European trucks, whilst Australia and New Zealand will take European, American or Japanese trucks.
World’s Most Powerful Road Truck
The accurate answer to the question of the world’s most powerful road truck is the 800hp Chinese Shacman X6000 800 that was revealed in 2023. The truck uses a 16.6 litre Euro 6 engine and looks a little like a Mercedes Actros.
The answer may be accurate, but it is of little use to readers in the UK, since Shacman trucks are not marketed in the UK or Europe.
The Most Powerful Road Truck for the UK & Europe in 2024
Although there are seven major truck brands operating in the European market, (DAF, Iveco, MAN, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Scania and Volvo) only two players vie for the title of manufacturer of the most powerful truck. This battle used to be for the most powerful road truck in the word until Shacman came onto the scene but, the embattled pair of Swedes, Scania and Volvo, appear content to battle it out for the European title at present.
History of Europe’s Truck Top Power Battle
There will always have been one truck at the top of the power tree, but it is only since the 2000’s that the manufacturers’ marketing machines have promoted the virtue of selling the most powerful truck.
Since this time, the battle ground has been drawn up between Scania’s V8 and Volvo Truck’s 16-litre straight six.
The battle commenced with the reworking of Volvo’s 16- litre in 2003 after it had been discontinued in 2001. With the new engine, the FH16 became the first truck to break the 600hp barrier and Volvo had plenty to say about it at the time. As a result, the 2003 model FH16 was the first true ‘World’s most Powerful Truck’.
Not content to rest on their laurels, Volvo Trucks stretched this power output just two years later with the impressive FH16.660 with 660hp on tap. This was indeed a high bar to hit, but Scania saw themselves as a contender for the title with their mighty V8 and recognised the kudos that followed the flagship ‘most powerful’ banner.
It took until 2010 for Scania to overtake fellow Swedes, but they did so by a comfortable margin with the launch of their flagship R730 using their iconic 16.4 litre V8 engine.
One can only imaging the levels of activity in the Volvo engineering departments as, just one year later in 2011, Volvo Trucks announced the launch of the FH16.750.
If you are thinking that this fast retaliation from Volvo would lead to immediate escalation in this power battle you would be wrong. The sensible Swedes appeared content with the status quo for nearly a decade until Scania took the fight up in 2020 with their new 770S with 770hp available from their V8.
The anticipated immediate response from Volvo did not come this time. The company has been highly focused on alternative drivelines and battery electric trucks in particular. We have had to wait until January 2024 for Volvo Trucks’ response with their announcement of the launch of the Volvo FH16.780.
This new truck uses an enlarged 17-litre D17 engine with 3,800Nm of torque
This was a long answer to a short question. The short answer, although there are none on the road at the time of writing: