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Focus: Transportation Management

Feature Article from Our Transportation Management Subject Area - See All

From SCDigest's On-Target E-Magazine

- April 9, 2014 -


Supply Chain News: Walmart Unveils New WAVE Concept Truck - a Very Different Design for Sure

20% More Aerodynamic, Hybrid Engine, Carbon Fiber Trailer

SCDigest Editorial Staff


In late 2012, Walmart announced a prototype new truck it called Supercube, which it said could hold as much as 30% more volume than traditional trucks. (See Walmart Will Test Potentially Breakthrough New Supercube Truck in Canada with 30% more Capacity.)

SCDigest Says:

It has generally not been thought that a full Class I tractor and trailer could be powered by an electric motor, so how this hybrid engine approach works in practice remains to be seen.
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Now the retail giant has unveiled something it calls its WAVE truck, which stands for Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience.

It's a concept truck and trailer that previews the future of long-haul freight, and was designed by Walmart in partnership with Peterbilt, Great Dane Trailers, and Capstone Turbine.

The design of the cab is unusual to say the least, sitting on top of what some are saying looks like the back half of a Corvette.

That low profile, however, is key to making the Wave truck 20% more aerodynamic than a standard truck and trailer. The driver sits in the middle of the cab, rather than on the left side.

Also new is that the 53-foot trailer is made entirely of lower weight carbon fiber, with the company saying it is the first time that a 53-foot side piece has been built entirely from the material in one panel.

The approach reduces unloaded truck weight by some 4,000 pounds. That means either better mileage from the lower weight, or the ability to add more freight to a truck that otherwise would weigh out.

The trailer also has a convex shape in the front to further enhance the aerodynamics, as well as adding a small amount of additional cargo space.

The WAVE truck uses a turbine-powered, battery-electric hybrid drivetrain, and the combustion engine can run on diesel, natural gas or biodiesel.

"It may never make it to the road, but it will allow us to test new technologies and new approaches," says Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon.

You find a short video of the truck below.



Even if the design as is doesn't stand, it certainly seems that WAVE could still point the way forward for the future of long-haul hauling.

(Transportation Management Article Continued Below)



"We've built 'technology trucks' with potentially game-changing technologies," said Elizabeth Fretheim, Walmart's director of logistics sustainability.

Walmart has not made any statements on the improvements in miles-per-gallon with the WAVE. It has generally not been thought that a full Class I tractor and trailer could be powered by an electric motor, so how this hybrid engine approach works in practice remains to be seen.

In 2005, Walmart promised to double the efficiency of its fleet, which contains 6,500 tractors, 55,000 trailers and 7,000 drivers, by 2015. Now, nearly 10 years later, the retailer claims it has "achieved an 84% improvement in fleet efficiency over its 2005 baseline."

Walmart has only just started formal testing on the WAVE prototype, and has no definite date for when it might be integrated into its fleet.

What do you think of the Walmart WAVE truck? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button (for email) or section (for web form) below.



Recent Feedback

I like the "spaceship" look - it's like a bullet train and a semi got together.

Having the driver in the middle with more windows seems like a great idea to improve safety. This 'technology truck' could be a nice bridge between the current trucks and future driverless trucks.



Supply Chain Cowboy
Apr, 09 2014

 Bravo! Good efforts to increase 30% capacity. This is certainly going to increase efficiency and cost reduction.

K. C. Gope
Confidence Carriers & Logistics Pvt. Ltd.
Jul, 23 2015