Following on President Obama’s promise to enforce tougher truck fuel economy standards, Walmart has revealed their futuristic hybrid big rig, the WAVE concept. Using a micro-turbine hybrid setup and aerodynamics like you’ve never seen before, Walmart thinks this is what the future of trucking looks like.
Walmart is actually a leader in efficient trucking methods, going so far as to deploy a fleet of test vehicles utilizing hybrid drivetrains, among other improvements, to increase fuel economy. The average semi-truck sees between 5.5 and 6.5 MPG, and the goal is to get that number over 10 MPG. The cost savings per truck per 120,000 miles could be $25,000 or more, depending on diesel prices.
Now consider that Walmart has 6,500 big rigs in its fleet, and you can see why the low-price retailer has a vested interest in more-efficient vehicles.
With the WAVE Concept, Walmart has built a big rig made mostly out of carbon fiber, which saves a whopping 4,000 pounds per vehicle. Power comes from a Capstone microturbine engine coupled to a battery pack and a powerful electric motor. An ultra-aerodynamic design includes electric sliding doors and a seating arrangement that puts the driver in the center of the cab, in front of a fully-customizable LCD gauge cluster.
What good is an efficient truck if it’s hauling a trailer with the aerodynamics of a brick though? That’s why Walmart, which owns over 55,000 trailers, also commissioned the building of a full carbon fiber trailer.