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Transportation

Walmart Unveils Turbine-Powered WAVE Concept Truck 242

Posted by samzenpus
from the corpone-brotch-approved dept.
cartechboy writes "It's no secret that semi trucks use a lot of fuel. Moving that amount of mass along at highway speeds takes a lot of power. But Walmart might have just unveiled the semi truck of the future with its WAVE concept truck. This crazy looking semi features an aerodynamic cab and looks like no other truck on the road. The driver sits in the center of the cab and the steering wheel is flanked by LCD screens instead of conventional gauges. The WAVE concept is powered by a range-extended electric powertrain consisting of a Capstone micro-turbine and an electric motor. To reduce weight the entire truck including the trailer is made of carbon fiber. The 53-foot side panels on the trailer are said to be the first single pieces of carbon fiber that large ever produced. The result? A trailer that weighs around 4,000 pounds less than a conventional one. While Walmart says it has no plans to produce the WAVE concept, one has to wonder if this is a look at what semis of the future will be like."
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Walmart Unveils Turbine-Powered WAVE Concept Truck

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  • by sotweed (118223) on Monday March 03, 2014 @07:25PM (#46391899)

    I don't understand how trucks, which require much more fuel, and more driver time per load, have
    so thoroughly replaced railroads for long hauls. Making trucks more efficient is a fine idea, but
    it's only nibbling at the edges. Why not go back to trains for medium to long distances?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Teamsters Union

    • by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Monday March 03, 2014 @07:37PM (#46392019) Homepage

      Railroads have to pay to maintain their tracks based on the wear their cargo trains do to them. Trucks, on the other hand, have the costs of maintaining the road spread onto passenger cars in a way that results in the trucks paying far less than their share of the costs. This results in billions of dollars per year effectively subsidizing truck transport.

      • by Ichijo (607641) on Monday March 03, 2014 @07:44PM (#46392085) Homepage Journal

        That's true, and here [jsonline.com] is proof.

        Today, over-the-road heavy trucks pay approximately $14,000 per year in combined fuel and other highway taxes. This amount does not come close to paying for the damage to roads and bridges caused by trucks...one 80,000-pound truck does the same road damage as 9,600 automobiles...

        • by SethJohnson (112166) on Monday March 03, 2014 @07:58PM (#46392207) Homepage Journal
          I'm no friend of trucks, but I wanted to clarify that 80,000 is the typical maximum weight allowed for a semi-truck. That would more likely be a shorter-haul truck moving gravel or other materials instead of less dense cargo like Walmart products. For the long-haul, materials are transported by train.

          While these road taxes are an interesting dimension, the main reasons Walmart's products are shipped via truck is because they don't want their own restocking schedules limited by train schedules. If efficiency were to dictate their logistics, the large Walmart regional warehouses would be located on a rail line and trucks would distribute the short haul from the regional warehouse to each store. Oh, well.

          To reiterate, rail line maintenance expenses are not pushing Walmart cargo onto trucks. If those fees were so high, low-margin materials like gravel and sand would be in trucks and not hauled via train across multiple states.
          • by LoRdTAW (99712) on Monday March 03, 2014 @08:22PM (#46392409)

            I'm no friend of trucks, but I wanted to clarify that 80,000 is the typical maximum weight allowed for a semi-truck. That would more likely be a shorter-haul truck moving gravel or other materials instead of less dense cargo like Walmart products. For the long-haul, materials are transported by train.

            It depends on the load being hauled but you would be surprised how heavy freight can get, even Walmart freight. A load of breakfast cereal or mattresses might be light but books, liquids and other bulky items like potting soil are not. So ensuring their trucks can gross out as close to 80k as they can get gives them flexibility.

            80,000 is the federal weight limit for interstate highways. Most jurisdictions stick to that number for their limit but there are many that allow more with, and sometimes without, permits. In certain parts you can apply for overweight permits to carry more than the 80k. For example in NY you can apply for an overweight permit for dump trucks with 7 axles (semi trailer type) to carry 117,000 pounds/53070kg. Tankers can also go upward of 100,000 or perhaps more using more axles but not in NYC. I know a retired truck driver who hauled intermodal containers to/from the NY and NJ ports and he frequently ran into containers that weighed more than the container was rated for. One container had him hitting the scales at 90,000 pounds, 10,000 over the legal limit.

            And I can assure you that while 80,000 pounds sounds like a lot it really isn't compared to vocational and heavy haul. Back in the day there was a concrete company in NY called Certified Concrete. They had custom built Mack F900's who's giant tandem rear axles alone carried 80,000 pounds. then throw on the 23,000 pound front axle and you had 103,000 lbs gross vehicle weight on just THREE axles. If you lived in NYC around the 70's you would remember these polkadotted monsters. Heavy haul can go nuts but typically lowboy's rated 50+ tons are not uncommon for moving large machinery.

          • by rahvin112 (446269)

            The limit varies a bit per state but the most common value is not a total weight measure. The size, shape and distribution of the wheels can vary the load that can be carried.

            A typical weight restriction is a pounds per square inch weight which is typically administered by the states as a weight of 3200 lbs per axle with the assumption that each axle carries dual tires on each side. This weight is usually figured by weighing the total truck weight, and using mathematical equations (and the trailer geometry)

          • I'm no friend of trucks, but I wanted to clarify that 80,000 is the typical maximum weight allowed for a semi-truck. That would more likely be a shorter-haul truck moving gravel or other materials instead of less dense cargo like Walmart products. For the long-haul, materials are transported by train.

            I'm a friend of trucks -- pretty much everything you have ever bought made its first and last trips by truck. There's no way modern logistics are feasible -- i.e. you don't get to buy stuff -- without trucks.

            The weight being carried is a function of the number of axles on the truck. Each axle is good for about 8 tons, so your 80,000 pound load (40 (short) tons) is a 22 wheel tractor-trailer. You do need to balance the weight properly given the location of the axles, but this isn't rocket science.

            There is

        • Then they should increase the highway taxes for heavy trucks by 96., 960 or 9600, not sure of the ratio but it should reflect the actual damages vs a regular car or truck.

          • by tompaulco (629533)

            Then they should increase the highway taxes for heavy trucks by 96., 960 or 9600, not sure of the ratio but it should reflect the actual damages vs a regular car or truck.

            If they did that, you wouldn't be able to afford to buy goods anymore. Or we would go to hauling things in pickup trucks and just making 100 trips instead of one semi load, increasing carbon emissions and cost and decreasing efficiency.

            • by smart_ass (322852)

              If they did that, you wouldn't be able to afford to buy goods anymore

              Wrong. At least if they did things fairly. The cost of goods would go up, but we would be paying less (Fuel/State/City) tax that was subsidizing (up until the hypothetical change) the truckers.

              The point is it would just move the burden around. It is a zero sum problem. If they charge truckers more, they charge all of us less and the difference to our taxation will make up the difference to the product differences.

            • The amount of fuel taxes could easily double and it will make nary an impact on the price.
      • by Solandri (704621) on Monday March 03, 2014 @08:30PM (#46392459)
        While true, trucks also allow point delivery to a specific business, instead of to a railyard. Basically, the bigger trade routes (e.g. between New York and and Chicago) should be serviced by rail, with trucks picking up the products from the local railyard to deliver it to the final destination. Most of the engineering work to make this happen has already been done - truck-sized containers are loaded onto cargo ships for overseas transport.

        The overhead of loading/unloading each container (not the contents) does cause some counter-intuitive results. e.g. Driving the container entirely by truck from Las Vegas to Los Angeles may be more cost-effective than loading everything on a train car, then unloading. But at longer distances, the lower cost of rail will override the extra cost of loading/unloading (as long as the trucks aren't being subsidized by automobile fuel taxes).

        As for why we don't just switch to rail immediately, unfortunately the creation of the Interstate Highway System and its uneven fuel taxes led to the creation of a multi-hundred billion dollar trucking industry. You cannot simply correct the fuel taxes. Doing so would put millions of truckers out of work and render several trillion dollars of their infrastructure obsolete overnight. Any change needs to be done slowly and gradually, to give the truckers time to recoup their investment in equipment, and time to retrain for a different job.
      • by Above (100351) on Monday March 03, 2014 @08:38PM (#46392549)

        It's actually worse than that, and only begins to look at the problem.

        Railroads own their own right of way, which means property, which means they pay property tax! They are also required by mandate to upgrade to any new safety standards the government dictates.

        Neither apply to roads. The government owns the land the roads are built on, and exempts itself from tax. If a road safety standard is updated, existing roads are grandfathered in until they next time they are rebuilt.

        Add in the fact that state and local government subsidize roads out of general tax revenue coffers, and use tax-free government bonds to finance them and railroads are at a significant financial disadvantage in the US. That's why they can only compete on large volume, bulk commodities. Want millions of tons of coal for a power plant? Well, even though they have to eat all those costs it's more efficient. Want to stock a Walmart? The cost of the spur to it would never be made back.

        • I have a railroad track running across my land. I own the land on both sides of the track. The railroad doesn't own the property, and I pay the property tax on the land. And my situation is normal, not some weird glitch.

          • by Above (100351)

            In the vast majority of cases (in fact I would suggest > 90% of all rail miles) the railroad owns a 50 foot wide strip of land. This is due to the history of how railroads procured land when the routes were selected. You would own the property on both sides, and the railroad pays property tax on that 50 foot wide strip in the middle.

            There are some cases where the railroad does not own the land, but has an easement for the use of the land. Railroads hated that arrangement for a number of reasons, but c

          • You probably don't own the land that the track is on, but you own the land on either side. You might want to recheck your documents and property in order to avoid paying tax on land that you can't use because it has an active rail line running through it.
      • by icebike (68054)

        Railroads have to pay to maintain their tracks based on the wear their cargo trains do to them. Trucks, on the other hand, have the costs of maintaining the road spread onto passenger cars

        Nevertheless, shipping something long distance via rail is way cheaper than by truck. In spite of the subsidy advantages truckers get, they still don't compete on price.

        The truckers compete on convenience, and time, and door to door service. By the time you handle all the inter-modal swaps, and delays trucks get it done faster. Rail means you go 1)From the shipping dock onto a truck, 2)across town, 3) off the truck, 4)onto the train, 5)wait for a train to be built, 6)wait for train to run, 7)off the tra

        • J.I.T.

          Larger modern business are very price selective on how they ship. But shipping costs alone are only one part of that cost algebra. It is generally far cheaper per pound to ship via rail, but for many products it is cheaper over all to use a just in time inventory system to reduce warehousing space. Quick turn around trucking fits in with JIT systems very well.

        • 1)From the shipping dock onto a truck.
          2)across town.
          3)off the truck.
          4)onto the train.

          In a train oriented system this would be all 1 step for heavy cargo companies (postal service, postorder companies, supermarkets etc): From the dock onto the train.

          5)wait for a train to be built.

          good joke.

          6)wait for train to run.

          How long this is depends on the usage. Here in the Netherlands passenger trains run once an hour like clockwork. Scheduling trains like that is possible, for cargo as well as passengers. Simple hint: never wait for cargo. If the cargo isn't at the dock or in the cart in time it'll have to wait for the next train. If trains are the stan

      • by caseih (160668)

        While that is true, rail companies just aren't interested in operating spur lines and connecting to a lot of smaller places. They only care about the mainlines where they can haul very long trains long distances. Around here the rail companies don't even want to talk to you about providing bulk goods cars unless you can fill 100 cars at a time. Only larger terminals have that much track on their land.

        The end result is that trucks are required to get products to and from the railway, and at that point it'

    • by lgw (121541)

      Trains are still used for long haul of bulk freight. The raw materials for manufacturing generally move from production to consumption over rail (when it's across land), as that's a fairly small network compared to distribution of manufactured goods. In terms of tons of freight moved, rail is still important.

      What's curious is the low use of rail from manufacturing to distribution hubs. It is used some, and most of the FedEx/UPs/etc hubs that's I've been to are on rail spurs, but you'd think there'd be mo

      • The rails lines are broken up all over the nation. As such, if you want to go coast to coast, you will pay multiple companies to access the rail. It becomes EXPENSIVE. Then through in the fact that the train companies are ran poorly. Very poorly.
    • Overhead Power - (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Trains on their own can't solve the last-mile problems that trucks do solve. On the other hand, we've had more than a century of experience with overhead power, which can be made safe, efficient, and inexpensive with today's technology. This has been applied to buses numerous times. It absolutely can be applied to trucks and made very safe through switching systems. (Only supplying power to a segment of the line when a vehicle is on it, shutting down immediately when a short or mechanical failure is detecte

      • Toronto just recently suffered an ice storm that took out a fair portion of the overhead powerlines in the city. Overhead power is not a desirable solution.
    • by wjcofkc (964165)
      I think you might be underestimating how much freight travels by train, as well as not considering a logistical issue. I live in Kansas City, which is about dead center in the middle of the united states. As a consequence, a whole hell of a lot passes through here. We are a main artery for cargo carrying trains and I can't even begin to imagine how much passes through here everyday by train. You must also consider that due to the enormous amount of cargo a single train can carry, they are carrying goods and
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LoRdTAW (99712)

      Because in the end a truck still needs to get the freight to and from the train. There aren't enough rail terminals to be feasible for this to work. You have the problem of rail yard congestion as trucks line up and wait for hours to pick up their trailer or freight.

      It sounds nice in theory but in the end its much simpler and economical to move smaller non bulk loads via truck.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      I don't understand how trucks, which require much more fuel, and more driver time per load, have
      so thoroughly replaced railroads for long hauls. Making trucks more efficient is a fine idea, but
      it's only nibbling at the edges. Why not go back to trains for medium to long distances?

      Rail trails. Most of the track miles in the USA has been consigned to rail trails or built over. I travel quite a lot and can spot old rail grades, despite lack of ties and rails, frequently across the landscape. It would astound some people to see just how much rail there once was in this country. Some was pulled up and removed for good reason, because the demand didn't exist to sustain it. Others were retired because so much dependence upon the flexibility of trucking. Intermodal freight still makes

      • They abandoned those rights of way decades before they were re-purposed into trails.

        IIRC they put a tax on rail miles in the early 20th century. Lost about half the track in the nation after that.

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        There need to be more "smaller" rail engines for short runs. In the "old days" there'd be local, regional, and long-haul rain networks. You'd use rail to get from on side of town to the other, or to the central depot for outside. Then link into a train for a longer haul, next city over or so. And split the car back out for local delivery.

        The trucking lobby is strong, and conveinced everyone that this is no longer possible. But it still is. If trucks were taxed in a manner that they paid their own wa
    • by bobbied (2522392)

      I don't understand how trucks, which require much more fuel, and more driver time per load, have so thoroughly replaced railroads for long hauls. Making trucks more efficient is a fine idea, but it's only nibbling at the edges. Why not go back to trains for medium to long distances?

      Interstate Highways.... Convenience... Just in Time inventory management... Unions...

      All played a role in the near death of RR, which is seeing a resurgence of inter-modal container shipping and driving trucks back to local delivery. Now with fuel starting to be a significant cost factor in shipping, RR are taking back market share.

    • by alen (225700)

      a lot of trucks travel most of their journey by rail and only the last leg by truck. lots of freight rail that transports the trailer part of the truck that is then married with it's driver at a rail head

    • I don't understand how trucks, which require much more fuel, and more driver time per load, have so thoroughly replaced railroads for long hauls. Making trucks more efficient is a fine idea, but it's only nibbling at the edges. Why not go back to trains for medium to long distances?

      Same reason that cars win over public transit. You can be a heck of a lot more flexible with your routes with a truck than with a train.

    • We could do exactly that if Warren Buffett and other railroad men would invest what it takes to run freight athigh speed. If we could achieve that it would not only take freight off the highway and claw back more business from containerships, but new markets for passenger runs that share lines with freight might suggest themselves.

    • The other day someone posted a link to a Wikipedia listing of nationalization and denationalization of various industries in the US. Most of it had to do with railroads. I don't know about other states, but here in Texas the railroad commissioner is considered the third most powerful government office. It's a stepping stone to the governor's office.

      I'd be hesitant to run a railroad, or have a large enterprise rely on the railroad, knowing that the government might decide to take it over tomorrow, or compl

  • by willy_me (212994) on Monday March 03, 2014 @07:30PM (#46391955)

    Anything that light will have serious issues with cross-winds. If current trailers can blow over just imagine how bad it will be when you reduce the weight by 4000 lbs.

    Some time ago, I recall reading on /. how Walmart was researching new energy efficient tires for use with trucks. Looks like they are being used here - a single large tire to replace the current standard dual-tire configuration. But this makes me wonder what the impact of a blow-out would be. Perhaps they have it figured out - or perhaps there are good reasons why this will never become a production machine.

    • by Culture20 (968837)
      The solution is to make sure they never drive around less than half empty. Make them combo delivery/refuse trucks.
      • by Jarik C-Bol (894741) on Monday March 03, 2014 @08:26PM (#46392437)
        I work in a small grocery store, and I assure you, even our delivery trucks don't go back empty. from our small store, at the very least, two bales of cardboard weighing about 500 lbs each go back on, along with dozens of bags of plastic for recycle, pallet size cooler boxes, along with a few stacks of pallets from the previous load. More than once I have seen the driver arrange the load so the all heavy stuff (the paper bales and pallets) where on the left side of the trailer, and the light stuff on the right. When I asked him about it, he told me that the forecast called for crosswinds to be from the left on the way home, and he was arranging the trailer to keep it from tipping. Decent truck drivers know all about wind, and how to compensate for it.
    • I don't think the idea is to have the assembly weigh less, but for the overhead of the truck and trailer to be less. 4klbs less trailer means 4klbs more cargo.

      The single tire trucks and trailers are on the road today, at least here in the northeast US. I haven't heard of any accidents caused by the tires, but advances in tire technology may make them less apt to blow out than semi tires years ago.

      Some carriers go all-out and also install fairings under the trailer and around the trailer doors. Particularly

    • call the driver an independent contractor and get out any liability when things go wrong.

  • Interestingly, they actually have a LAB in Silicon Valley -I saw a Billboard advertising for talent (how quaint) at Central Expressway and Lawrence the other day...

    http://www.walmartlabs.com/

    -I'm just sayin'
    • by l0ungeb0y (442022)

      If by "lab" you mean an acquired company that develops ONE SINGLE SOLITARY PRODUCT for use across various Walmart applications -- yeah, that's a lab. I interviewed there because they contacted me and the idea of working in an R&D capacity sounded intriguing (even if it was for Walmart), and the person I spoke to made it out like it was an R&D type of place with many internal projects and a "real startup culture". I was pretty pissed off to find out that no -- they just have one product there, will o

  • by compwizrd (166184) on Monday March 03, 2014 @07:36PM (#46392009) Homepage

    How will the trailer hold up to the average idiot with a forklift? Or to the average idiot that didn't strap the load in and it shifts?

    • How will the trailer hold up to the average idiot with a forklift? Or to the average idiot that didn't strap the load in and it shifts?

      Likely better than the aluminum used today.

      • Re:Trailer strength (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Chas (5144) on Monday March 03, 2014 @07:44PM (#46392093) Homepage Journal

        Aluminum siding vs idiot with a forklift. Forklift wins. Trailer is fucked up.
        Plastic siding vs idiot with a forklift. Forklift wins. Trailer is fucked up.
        Carbon fiber vs idiot with a forklift. Forklift wins. Trailer is fucked up AND costs 5x as much to repair...

        • Oh please, the labour alone for carbon fibre repair (versus aluminum or even fibreglass) is going to be a lot more than 5x the price. Any idiot's nephew at a the local body shop can rivet a piece of aluminum over a forklift hole.

        • by Afty0r (263037)

          By the time this concept is rolling off a production line, what makes you think a human will be operating the forklift?

  • Luigi Colani has been working on improving the efficiency of trucks since the 1970s. His designs are eccentric [google.com], but they are said to drastically reduce fuel consumption. What Walmart has done is incorporated the electric motor and switched to a carbon fiber trailer. While this would produce good results in theory, I have to imagine the practicality of getting batteries big enough to keep that truck running for hours uninterrupted would be a huge challenge and is why this truck is not going to be deployed
    • by Solandri (704621)
      As the AC said, this sounds like a turbine-electric motor, much like the diesel-electric commonly used in trains. If you look at the power to weight ratio for a train, it ends up being about equivalent to an SUV with a 5 hp engine. All the electric motor (and batteries) need to do is store enough power to quickly accelerate the truck. Once it's at highway speed, the turbine alone can provide sufficient power to keep it rolling; no batteries needed. (In the case of an electric train, no batteries are nee
  • won't the self-driving trucks eliminate the need for ANY cab?
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      Self driving trucks still need a cab. That's where the engine goes.

      The real savings in self-driving would be having them cruise at 35 mph. Much better economy at lower speeds, and no driver fatigue.
      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Awesome. Can't wait to get stuck behind one of those while another one passes it veeeeerrrrrryyy slowly.

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          If it ever happened, they'd not pass, but would tailgate each other for efficiency.
          • by ceoyoyo (59147)

            Sure, just like drivers today don't each try and drive a little faster than the speed limit so they can cut some time and get that delivery bonus. I guess you might get a Wal-Mart trailer train all tailgating each other, but the Target trucks would be in the left lane trying to get past them.

            • by AK Marc (707885) on Monday March 03, 2014 @11:27PM (#46393645)
              If they were truely automated, I don't think such behavior would be written in. Target would be happy to tailgate Wal-Mart. Save $100 in fuel at Wal-Mart's expense.
              • Nope, not at Wal-Mart's expense. Tailgating is fuel efficient for both trucks. Normally there is a pressure drop behind a truck that sort of sucks the truck backwards. That pressure drop after the first truck is partly compensated by the "bow wave" of the next truck. Thus the "sucking effect" is lessened.
                The only, but big, problem is safety and that can be partly mitigated by adaptive cruise control.
    • Even a robotic truck would benefit from a more aerodynamic front than what is in use today. With the current aero enhancements available for standard trailers all the low hanging fruit have been picked.

  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice&gmail,com> on Monday March 03, 2014 @07:49PM (#46392131)

    Someone better tell Airbus that their 59ft panels on the A350XWB are somehow shorter than Wal-Marts 53ft panels...

  • But for pretty much every other owner/operator out there, this sort of setup makes pretty much no sense. There's too many different types of loads (and specifically designed trailers) for that.

    So there'll be a fleet of a few hundred Walmart trucks like this. And the other 99% of the industry will stick with standard trucks.

    There's also the durability issue. While modern trucks aren't cheap, they're designed to be readily repairable. As are trailers.

    Not many repair shops (let alone road services) have carbon fiber facilities.

    These designs are great...until they get damaged. Then they cost an arm, a leg and a testicle to repair, compared to standard trailers.

  • I know I have seen futuristic truck designs before. This was just the first one I saw on google. From 1964 I present the Ford Gas Turbine Truck [tonkagasturbine.com]

  • I know I am lending a lot to the ethics and morals of Walmart as a company when is say this, but if they are not going to be entering the truck building and selling business, they should patent-unencumber every last inch of their design, and publish every last schematic - Open Source it. It doesn't sound like they have anything to lose by doing so, and those few extra miles per gallon could add up to a sizable impact on air pollution if this and designs that followed from it became commonplace.
    • I know I am lending a lot to the ethics and morals of Walmart as a company when is say this, but if they are not going to be entering the truck building and selling business, they should patent-unencumber every last inch of their design, and publish every last schematic - Open Source it. It doesn't sound like they have anything to lose by doing so

      Competitive edge. If they can have their goods moved for a lower price than Target, Sears, Big Lots! etc., then Wal Mart can use that in a number of ways to beat

      • by wjcofkc (964165)
        Then they should make trucks rather than sitting on it.
        • They are not experienced in building trucks. Most likely they are going to approach an experienced company and pay them to build these trucks. It seems they have a working prototype so they probably already did that.
  • won't have a cab.
    Why would you need one without a driver?

  • Normally I'm a staunch railroad fan, but this thing is cool. Hell, if I got a chance to drive this thing I'd happily fill out an employment application at WalMart. This futuristic truck is pretty bad ass!
  • Maybe not exactly ... but for some reason it reminded me of the truck from Highwayman [hemmings.com].

  • " the steering wheel is flanked by LCD screens instead of conventional gauge"
    which won't work in the northern half of the US half the year. Even specialized GPS screens ghost and fail to turn on and are miscolored below 10F.
    • Re:oops (Score:4, Funny)

      by ceoyoyo (59147) on Monday March 03, 2014 @09:34PM (#46392939)

      Strange thing, drivers don't work so well when it's cold either. That's why truck cabs are generally heated when it's cold out.

      I'm from a place where, before glow plugs, if you turned off your truck during the winter it wasn't starting again until June, so the drivers would just leave their trucks idling all night while they slept. If you were smart you'd shove some cardboard in front of the radiator on your car (or truck) to block the airflow so that you'd actually get warm air out of the heater, and avoid that driver/LCD screen freezing problem.

  • by Solandri (704621) on Monday March 03, 2014 @09:09PM (#46392769)
    Unfortunately, MPG is the inverse of fuel economy. That means the bigger you make MPG, the smaller the effect it has on overall consumption. If a car/truck is driven 15,000 miles per year, and you come up with a technology which improves their economy by (say) 20%:

    5 MPG tractor trailer = 3000 gallons consumed, 20% improvement = 600 gallons saved
    12 MPG luxury SUV = 1250 gallons consumed, 20% improvement = 250 gallons saved
    18 MPG SUV = 833 gallons consumed, 20% improvement = 167 gallons saved
    25 MPG sedan = 600 gallons consumed, 20% improvement = 120 gallons saved
    35 MPG econobox = 429 gallons consumed, 20% improvement = 86 gallons saved
    50 MPG hybrid = 300 gallons consumed, 20% improvement = 60 gallons saved
    100 MPG supercar = 150 gallons consumed, 20% improvement = 30 gallons saved

    All those 100 MPG research vehicles are pretty worthless in terms of reducing the country's overall oil consumption. Likewise, the push for hybrid cars is tackling the problem at the wrong end. It's improving fuel economy where it matters least - cars that don't burn a lot of fuel in a year. If you want to reduce oil consumption, you need to be changing the vehicles which burn the most oil. That's the trucks and SUVs - that's where we should be concentrating our fuel economy improvement research dollars.

    Buying a Prius may help assuage your personal guilt over the environment, but we would've been much better off if Toyota et al had spent those R&D dollars on improving truck and SUV fuel efficiency first. The bigger the MPG, the smaller the impact it has on fuel savings - switching from a 12.5 MPG vehicle to a 25 MPG vehicle saves as much fuel as switching from a 25 MPG vehicle to an infinite MPG vehicle. (GPM is the "correct" metric because people usually have a certain distance they wish to drive, meaning the miles should be in the denominator. If people filled up their tank once a week and drove as many miles as they could on the one tank every week, then MPG would be the "correct" metric.)
  • walmart will never invest in this because the truck of the future for them is the train. Long-haul tractor trailers are a dying breed perpetuated by cheap oil, and the future of regional and local trucking is in battery or hybrid power demonstrated by Staples and numerous other companies.

  • Trucker 1: "That thang looks like them French ticklers they sell in the john."

    Trucker 2: "Where the hell'r you supposed to put a confederate flag on it?"

    Trucker 3: "Betcha that truck has rear tire flaps with MALE silhouettes."

  • Carbon fiber trailer, aerodynamic body, central driver seat etc are gimmics.

    A high efficiency power source, mediated via battery and electric motor is really interesting technology. The locomotives made the switch to diesel electric from steam in 1940s very very swiftly. In just one decade the steam engines were gone. The electric motors are ideal things to turn the wheel. Their torque peaks at zero rpm, exactly when it is needed. IC engines via clutch + transmission + gear box is a hack. But trucks have b

  • Walmart says it has no plans to produce the WAVE concept,

    Then why make this prototype? I suppose it might have been more expensive to make than they thought or something, but it seems a shame to waste all that work.

Always think of something new; this helps you forget your last rotten idea. -- Seth Frankel

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