Walmart Rolls Out The Future of Fleet Efficiency
Walmart CEO Doug McMillan said in his blog that he never thought Walmart's sustainability journey would lead to trucks like this - radical carbon fiber trucks.
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Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience - WAVE - is just beginning formal testing.
The first truck to be built from carbon fiber, it is 20 percent more aerodynamic than current trucks, and its micro-turbine hybrid powertrain can run on a variety of fuels.
In addition to Capstone’s microturbine there’s an electric motor and battery storage system.
The carbon fiber body cuts 4000 pounds, and at 53-feet long, it’s the first time sheets so large have been manufactured. The round front also contributes to aerodynamics and adds cargo space.
Walmart’s goal is to double the fuel efficiency of its fleet by 2015, which the company says it is 80 percent on the way to meeting. Big trucks like this currently get about 6 miles per gallon.
WAVE comes at a good time. President Obama recently announced the next wave of fuel economy standards are under development for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles — the most polluting vehicles on the road.
Standards in place for 2014 to 2018, which go into effect this year, are expected to cut annual oil consumption by 390,000 barrels per day by 2030 — about $50 billion in fuel costs. But the new round will have a much bigger impact because all vehicle components will be included.
In the case of tractor trailers, for example, current standards only apply to the truck that’s pulling the trailer, not the trailer itself. Improving the trailer would increase fuel savings from 23 to 35 percent.
“According to the analysis in our Half the Oil plan, improving the fuel efficiency of all types of heavy-duty trucks could reduce oil consumption by 1 million barrels a day in 2035, more than the maximum capacity of the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Michelle Robinson, director of Union of Concerned Scientists’ Clean Vehicles Program.
The Future of Fleet Efficiency
Elizabeth Fretheim, Walmart
Our U.S. trucks log millions of miles every year, delivering products to our more than 4,800 locations across the country. So when it comes to sustainability and fleet efficiency, the goal is simple: deliver more while driving fewer miles. This goal is the driving principle behind our commitment to double fleet efficiency by 2015 (compared to 2005). We’re already 80% of the way there. 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.
In Canada, our Supercube trailer pilot has just entered its second test phase after proving that it can ship up to 40% more merchandise than conventional tractor-trailer combinations, reducing costs by 24% and greenhouse gas emissions by 14%.
The latest example of this is our new Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience concept truck, which is the result of collaboration between many vendor partners, including Peterbilt, Great Dane Trailers and Capstone Turbine. The truck combines aerodynamic, mictroturbine-hybrid powertrain, electrification, and advanced control systems all in one vehicle.
Like the concept cars you see at auto shows, this prototype will evolve before it’s ready for the road. 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.
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