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Remembering Renault’s VIRAGES Program - the Magnum’s beginning


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It’s interesting to view photographs of Mack COE concepts of the 1970s, together with the Virages tractor concepts that resulted in the 1990 launch of the Renault AE (Magnum).

The Virages program was initiated in 1979, two years after Mack and Renault (represented by the superb Elios Pascual) joined forces to adapt and sell Renault’s proven medium trucks to the North American market. Launched in the 1980 model year, the Mack Mid-Liner became the number one selling medium-duty COE in America by the mid-eighties.

Renault, like Scania, were great people to work with. They admired Mack Trucks, the people and its technological prowess, and wanted to work together where synergies could be identified.

Along the way to the Magnum, Renault displayed the Virages VE10 concept in 1985 and VE20 in 1988, both advanced COE designs with an American style set-forward front axle configuration.

(V.I.R.A.G.E.S. - Véhicule industriel de recherche pour l’amélioration de la gestion de l’énergie et la sécurité, i.e. Commercial vehicle for research into the improvement of energy management and safety)

The VIRAGES program was focused on evaluating a number of technologically advanced options to be featured by Renault on future vehicles.

This program resulted in the construction of two VE (Vehicle Experimental) prototypes, dubbed VE10 (1985) and VE20 (1988).

VIRAGE made it possible for Renault to expand its working knowledge of new architectures and technologies, allowing them to be successfully applied in the AE (short for aerodynamic) in 1990.




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VE 10

With its high mounted cab reached by a spiral staircase and huge, bulbous windshield, the VE 10 prototype presented by Renault Trucks in 1985 made a powerful impression.

Highly aerodynamic, the VE10 included a streamlined semi-trailer with trailer tail to reduce aerodynamic drag, and therefore fuel consumption.

The original VE10 was a 6x4 tractor with super single tires on the drive axles, an idea later employed on the “AE” production models.

The VE10 also stood out for its use of nitrogen gas in the tandem suspension’s air springs, front and rear disc brakes and model B18 automated manual transmission (AMT). From day one, the production “AE” models featured disc brakes on the steer axle.







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VE 20

The 6x2 configured VE20 represented a number of firsts in global heavy truck design.

Advanced technical features included:

  • The chassis was made of curved extruded aluminum with symmetrical cross members
  • McPherson strut-type oil/pneumatic suspension system
  • Compact powertrain
  • Fully automated transmission (AMT) featuring a shift "under torque" capability, allowing gear changes without any interruption in traction
  • Disc brakes front and rear
  • Electronic surveillance and management functions
  • Wind tunnel-designed cab offering a flat floor with forward and lateral visibility close to maximum possible values.



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Originally called the “AE” in 1990, it was renamed the Magnum in 1992.

From 1996, the Magnum was fitted with the Mack E7, or E9 V-8 rated up to 560 horsepower.

EE9-500 16.36 500 @ 1,900 2,000 N.m @ 1,300 Europe – Renault Magnum AE500

EE9-520 16.36 520 @ 1,900 2,250 N.m @ 1,300 Europe – Renault Magnum AE520

EE9-530 16.36 530 @ 1,900 2,250 N.m @ 1,300 Europe – Renault Magnum AE530

EE9-560 16.36 560 @ 1,900 2,450 N.m @ 1,300 Europe – Renault Magnum AE560

Little Known Facts: The Mack E7 E-Tech, when installed in the Renault Magnum tractor, carried the Renault engine designation MIDR 06.24.65.

Note the Virage prototype’s staircase for cab access, not unlike the later Freightliner Argosy (an option)

Another note, though the Magnum (AE) was launched in 1990, the Renault R-Series COE heavy tractor first launched in 1980 remained in production until 1996. The R-Series was an updated version of the Berliet GR/TR, using a lengthened version of the Berliet KB2400 cab which had been used by Ford Motor Company for the Transcontinental Mk 1 and Mk 2.

Renault Press Release / Lyon, June 2013 / 20 Years of Success for the Renault Magnum Legend - http://corporate.renault-trucks.com/media/document/DP-pdf/dp_magnum_20_ans_en.pdf



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