Wal-Mart has unveiled a new prototype for a delivery truck it says will significantly reduce its delivery fleet’s emissions.
Walmart, whose fleet includes 6,500 trucks, 55,000 trailers and employs 7,000 drivers, announced in 2005 that it intended to double fleet efficiency by 2015. According to the company, fleet efficiency has increased by 84% since that announcement.
The Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience, or WAVE, is the company’s latest step towards that goal.
While no official fuel economy figures have been provided, it is expected that the truck’s light weight construction, hybrid turbine drivetrain and advanced aerodynamics will provide significant savings. It was developed in conjunction with Peterbilt, Capstone Turbine, and Great Dane Trailer.
More than anything for Wal-Mart, the WAVE is a means to shake up the way things are done in the trucking industry. “It may never actually make it to the road, but it will allow us to test new technologies and new approaches,” Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon told Wired.
Here are just some of the groundbreaking features found in the WAVE:
Designed in conjunction with Peterbilt, the WAVE’s svelte shape gives it a 20% reduction in aerodynamic drag over Walmart’s current fleet of Peterbilt Model 386 trucks. According to Bill Kahn, Manager of Advanced Concepts at Peterbilt, the 20% reduction in drag equates to a 10% increase in fuel economy.
2. Turbine Power
The WAVE’s revolutionary microturbine, developed by Capstone Turbine, is capable of running on natural gas and other fuels all the while producing virtually no emissions. As a result, the microturbine does not require the exhaust scrubbers and chemical treatments that conventional diesel engines use. The microturbine operates using air bearing technology and air cooling which allows the truck to forego the need for heavy lubrication and liquid cooling systems.
3. Hybrid Technology
The WAVE’s advance hybrid drive system is programmed to find the most efficient balance between its turbine and electric drivetrains. The hybrid system functions in 3 modes: charge mode, electric vehicle mode and hybrid electric mode. The truck will select the most efficient mode automatically or via manual inputs from the driver.
4. Advanced Cockpit
The centrepiece of the WAVE’s tapered front end is its central seating position. The design, which borrows its aesthetics from open-wheel racing, affords the driver greater visibility. The futuristic cockpit also features fully customisable digital displays, a fold out bed and sliding driver’s door.
The WAVE’s trailer attachment, manufactured by Great Dane Trailers, incorporates a slew of innovative design elements. Most notably the one-piece 53 foot long carbon fibre panels that make up the trailer’s roof and sidewalls. The trailer’s carbon fibre construction makes it more 4000 lbs lighter than a conventional unit.
Take a look at the WAVE in action:
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