There’s this little Mom & Pop store up the road from me called Walmart. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it, but they’ve got some great prices, and nothing bad ever happens there. Seriously. There are plenty of places for kids to play, and everyone there is beautiful. Now Walmart, home of everything wonderful, has decided to help make the rest of the world a little better.
Walmart announced in Truck News (“Canada’s leading trucking newspaper for the trucking industry”) that they plan to double the fuel efficiency of their fleet of tractor-trailers by next year. They’ve created what they call the “truck of tomorrow” with the help of Peterbilt, Great Dane trailers, and Capstone Turbine. They’ve dubbed it WAVE; Walmart’s Advanced Vehicle Experience. The original title, Walmart’s Environment-Saving Universal Cargo Keeper, was scrapped when an intern gave an impromptu presentation on acronyms.
The WAVE’s streamlined cab is said to be 20% more aerodynamic than Walmart’s existing fleet of trucks. They achieved this in part by centering the driver’s seat, and replacing the traditional doors with a sliding panel. Inside, a customizable LCD dashboard replaces the traditional instruments, and allows the driver to position them to his or her liking. A full-sized sleeper compartment sits directly behind the driver’s pod.
According to Walmart, the vehicle runs on a “prototype advanced turbine-powered, range-extending series hybrid powertrain (or microturbine-hybrid powertrain) combined with an electric motor and battery storage system.” What does that mean, exactly? It means the engine can be powered by many different sources, including diesel, biodiesel, natural gas, “and probably other fuels still to be developed.”
The trailer has also received considerable upgrades, including a convex nose that reduces drag and increases cargo space. Walmart claims their trailer is the first to be built entirely out of carbon fiber. It also boasts the world’s first 53 foot, single-piece, carbon fiber panels. The innovative design weighs 4,000 lbs less than that of the average trailer, allowing the WAVE to carry more cargo while using less fuel.
Don’t expect to see them on the highway anytime soon. According to Walmart President Doug McMillon, “It may never make it to the road, but it will allow us to test new technologies and new approaches.” Well, that’s just great. They’ve spent countless millions to develop the “truck of tomorrow” and it may not even be used. That idea is further backed by the fact that the retailer has ordered 1,000 new 2014 trucks. You’ve got to love Walmart. They’ll spend ludicrous amounts of cash on a hypothetical truck, but won’t pay their employees a living wage.