Walmart unveils concept for energy efficient carbon-fibre truck
American supermarket giant Walmart has unveiled a prototype for a fuel-efficient truck with a streamlined cab and the first trailer made entirely of carbon fibre.
Walmart collaborated with Peterbilt, Great Dane Trailers and Capstone Turbine to create the design, known as the Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience – or Wave.
The radical design features a tapered nose and cabin to improve aerodynamics by 20 per cent over lorries currently used by Walmart.
The cabin is accessed by a sliding door featuring two windows to increase the driver’s visibility. Inside, there’s only one seat and the driving position is in the centre, allowing the cabin to be narrower and more streamlined.
The dashboard comprises two screens, positioned either side of the steering wheel. “The dash is electronic, and therefore customisable to the gauges and performance data that particular driver wants to monitor,” said a spokesperson from Walmart.
Behind the driver is a full-sized sleeper cabin allowing them to take breaks and nap during long-haul journeys.
The trailer section is the first to be built completely of carbon fibre. Walmart claims the two side panels, at 16-metres long, are the largest single pieces of carbon fibre ever made.
Using this material makes the trailer 1814 kilograms lighter than conventional ones.
Walmart says the vehicle’s engine combines a microturbine-hybrid powertrain with an electric motor and battery storage system, meaning it could run on diesel, natural gas, biodiesel “and probably other fuels still to be developed.”
At present, the Wave remains a concept. “It may never make it to the road, but it will allow us to test new technologies and new approaches,” said Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon.