We don’t often cover semi-trailer trucks around here (actually, I don’t think we ever have), but when we see something cool we’ll bring it to you nonetheless. Walmart recently debuted an awesome-looking futuristic truck prototype during the Mid-America Trucking Show in Kentucky. The truck you see in the picture above still runs on diesel, though has the ability to run on electric power when needed. “Although the prototype currently runs on diesel, its turbine is fuel neutral and can run on compressed or liquid natural gas, biofuels or other fuels,” Walmart explained.
The goal of the truck is to cut down on Walmart’s overall carbon footprint by consuming less fuel and extending the distances at which its trucks can operate. One way the company will cut down on fuel consumption is by using a super aerodynamic and lightweight cabin designed by Peterbilt. The body of the truck, too, is lightweight and made out of carbon fiber panels. One way to achieve even more efficiency was to place the cabin right over the engine and shortening the truck’s wheelbase — which you can see in the image above.
Walmart explained that the truck is capable of using regenerative braking, and that such a feature is even more important now that the company’s trucks travel shorter distances between distribution centers and metropolitan markets, where the goods are delivered. An electric motor is used in shorter ranges and powers the truck’s acceleration and deceleration and turbine engine. “For use in urban areas, the truck will run on electric power alone until the battery state of charge hits 50 percent,” Walmart explained. “At that time the turbine will automatically start and begin charging the batteries.” The truck’s turbine changes to a hybrid mode for longer haul distances.
The prototype is already road ready, and Walmart said in 2005 that it hoped to double the efficiency of its fleet of trucks by 2015. We don’t know if this truck will be on the road that quickly, though we presume it will if Walmart wants to meet those goals.