Walmart has developed a super-efficient tractor-trailer rig that features a turbine-powered range extending series hybrid powertrain. The prototype truck, which is on display at this week’s Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky, is the result of collaboration between Walmart and many vendors, including Peterbilt, Roush Engineering, Great Dane Trailers, Parker Hannifin, and Capstone Turbine.
The truck features a microturbine range extender generator developed by Capstone Turbine. The use of a hybrid powertrain allows the turbine to run at optimum operating RPM at all times, while the electric motor handles acceleration and deceleration.
Turbines by their nature are fuel-neutral – although the prototype currently runs on diesel, its turbine can run on compressed or liquid natural gas, biofuels or other fuels. Turbines are also appealing because of their low emissions, few moving parts, low maintenance requirements and lighter weight.
The generator and energy storage on the truck are scalable based on the range desired. For use in urban areas, the truck can run on electric power alone until the battery state of charge hits 50 percent.
Every aspect of the rig was designed with efficiency in mind. The truck’s shape represents a 20 percent reduction in aerodynamic drag over Walmart’s current Peterbilt Model 386. The trailer body is built almost exclusively with carbon fiber, saving nearly 4,000 pounds compared to traditional designs. Other features include low-amperage LED lighting strips, composite trailer skirts and aerodynamic disc wheel coverings.
“Walmart is continually looking for innovative ways to increase our efficiencies and reduce our fleet’s emissions,” said Tracy Rosser, Walmart’s Senior VP of Transportation. “The Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience is a bold step in transportation technologies that, although not on the road in its current form, will serve as a learning platform for the future.”