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Walmart aims to surf the WAVE

Concept prime mover to join new trailer as mega-retailer seeks transport efficiencies

US retail behemoth Walmat has unveiled its concept truck, dubbing it the WAVE.

Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience, the WAVE was a centrepiece of the company’s recent Sustainability Milestone Meeting.

President and CEO Doug McMillon says formal testing has just begun but pledged that it would be 20 per cent more aerodynamic than its current trucks.

It has a micro-turbine hybrid powertrain that can run on diesel, natural gas, biodiesel “and probably other fuels still to be developed”, and also involves electrification and advanced control systems.

“It may never make it to the road, but it will allow us to test new technologies and new approaches. I share it because it gives you a sense of how sustainability is helping us see things in new ways,” McMillon adds.

‎ WAVE is the result of collaboration between vendor partners, including Peterbilt, Great Dane Trailers and Capstone Turbine.

It includes an electronic dashboard with customisable gauges and performance data, a full-sized sleeper and sliding driver’s door.

The driver’s seat has LCD screens at either hand and its single trailer is in the carbon-fibre-bodied.

According to Business Strategy and Sustainability Director Elizabeth Fretheim, the concept is part on an ongoing sustainability and fleet efficiency drive aimed at double fleet efficiency by 2015, compared with 2005.

“We’re already 80 per cent of the way there,” Fretheim says.

“Since 2007, we’ve delivered 658 million more cases while driving 298 million fewer miles.

“But the key to continued improvement is through technology.

“We need to use the most efficient equipment available – and we need to pursue and test the technologies of tomorrow.

“That’s why we’ve been working with our suppliers to pilot new and emerging technologies for about 20 years.

“These tests have included a number of prototypes: hybrid assist, wheel-end hybrid assist, full propulsion hybrid, natural gas (LNG and CNG) and waste grease.” 

She notes that Walmart’s Canadian Supercube trailer pilot study is in its second test phase “after proving that it can ship up to 40 per cent more merchandise than conventional tractor-trailer combinations, reducing costs by 24 per cent and greenhouse gas emissions by 14 per cent”.

“Like the concept cars you see at auto shows, this prototype will evolve before it’s ready for the road,” she says.

“But it’s exciting to think about how any one of the new features might become an industry standard in the future.

“The important thing is that we find incremental improvements while also challenging ourselves to look at fleet efficiency in new and different ways.” 

No fuel efficiency standard was mentioned for the WAVE but Peterbuilt reportedly gets 10.7 miles per gallon (4.54 km per litre) in real-world conditions from its Cummins collaboration, the SuperTruck, and AirFlow Truck Co claims 13.4 mpg (5.67 kpl) for its BulletTruck.

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