PORTLAND, OR. As they waited to hear from dispatch for their next load, truck driver Stephen Fahey of Ottery Transportation Inc. and his wife Michela couldn’t resist checking out Volvo Truck’s new VNL and VNR models.

They were two of dozens of truckers and other customers at the Jubitz Truck Stop in north Portland who took a few moments out of their day to visit with Volvo during the third stop of its North American truck stop tour.  

As much as truck makers tout improved fuel economy and technology when showing off their latest models to the media, it was the smaller details catching the attention of truckers. For the Faheys, one of the first items they noticed were the air bags, a standard feature on Volvo’s new trucks.

Beyond safety features, they indicated Volvo and other manufacturers seem to be making a real effort to make truck cabs a more livable space.  

That includes the location and size of windows in the bunk and the set-up of closet space. More importantly, Michaela noticed the positioning of the electrical outlets in the bunk, which she suggested would make it more comfortable to use a CPAP machine used to treat sleep apnea. 

Stephen has been a trucker for 30 years and is a company driver for Wisconsin-based Ottery. The couple calls Florida home, but can spend more than a month on the road at a time. 

Stephen said he has generally been pleased with the performance of his current 2014 model from a different manufacturer, which has logged more than 430,000 miles. However, with so much time away from home, the couple said anything that makes life on the road slightly more comfortable is extremely valuable.  

The small details were also on the mind of one trucker as he gave real-time feedback to his boss by phone as he walked around the new models. 

That driver, who declined to provide his name, focused on the stability and durability of the ladder used to access the bunk bed. He carefully detailed the interior carpet and the size of the storage space, before pausing to snap photos.

Another driver who asked not to be identified took note of the headlights that have the ability to defrost themselves. He said that would be very useful during his frequent trips across Montana during winter months.

Allowing truckers to discover Volvo’s “playbook of small changes” is precisely why the company set up this tour, said Wade Long, Volvo’s director of product marketing.

While the Jubitz Truck Stop is a fairly small travel center by size, it is strategically located just miles from the Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River connecting Oregon with Washington state. It is also near the Portland International Airport and nestled into an industrial area with dozens of trucks passing by every minute. 

The high volume made this location a particularly attractive choice for the truck stop tour, said Long. The easy access to I-5 made it efficient for truckers to take a test drive without disrupting their schedules, he noted. 

Long was also quick to praise Jubitz for providing Volvo space out front of the truck stop for the event, while at same the time not taking up prime real estate that may otherwise be used for long-term trucker parking. 

This was the third stop on Volvo’s tour billed as “The Shape of Trucks to Come.” After two events in Canada, the tour is scheduled to cross the United States, ending on Nov. 14 in Dallas. The tour includes representatives of Bridgestone, Alcoa Wheels and Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems.

Officials were also in attendance from TEC Equipment, a nearby Volvo and Mack truck dealership. They shared maintenance tips and displayed a new vehicle hauler.​