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Walmart Reimagines the 18-wheeler

Published Friday, March 21, 2014. Category: Equipment

Many of us have wondered when somebody would do something completely radical to the design of the big rigs rolling down the highway. Sure, In the last couple of decades we've seen more fairings, better aerodynamics on the cab and most recently, trailer skirting. But big trucks still seems to be a step behind automobiles when it comes to technology. Walmart decided to throw their two cents in and designed a crazy modern truck and trailer.

Walmart reportedly runs over 6,000 trucks on the road and so even small improvements in efficiency can mean a large amount of financial savings.

Walmart, in association with Great Dane Trailers, Peterbilt, and Capstone Turbine has created a truck and trailer that they claim is 20 percent more aerodynamic than their current trucks.

The truck and trailer have many unique features. The tractor looks aerodynamic, but odd. Rather than appearing as one unit, it looks like the cab is sitting on top of a crushed car. The door to the cab slides back, rather than swinging open on a traditional tractor.

The cab has a single seat up front and the driver sits in the center. This allows the cab to be narrower and more aerodynamic. Rather than a multitude of switches and gauges, the driver has a large screen to the left and right of the steering wheel that display stats and allow the driver to customize and control everything.

Powering the truck is a completely different kind of hybrid engine. Capstone Turbine has provided one of their microturbine engines that runs on diesel, natural gas and probably a bunch of other fuels. The microturbine, presumably, provides power to a battery storage system and an electric motor that propels the truck.

The trailer is all carbon fiber and at 53 feet long, it's the first time a panel of carbon fiber that length has been manufactured. The trailer is said to be 4,000 lbs lighter than a typical trailer, which would allow the truck to haul more cargo or pull a lighter load (if the cargo filled the truck but didn't reach the weight limit).

Walmart says this truck probably won't be hitting the roads anytime soon. We're sad to hear that. We're guessing that this truck would probably double the fuel economy of a traditional tractor trailer.

Photo Credit: Walmart