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Walmart Unveils Turbine-Powered WAVE Concept Truck 242

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 Anonymous Coward on Monday March 03, 2014 @07:30PM (#46391949)

    Teamsters Union

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

    That's true, and here [] 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 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 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 LDAPMAN ( 930041 ) on Monday March 03, 2014 @08:56PM (#46392689)

    A few hundred? Walmart has 6500 trucks and 55,000 trailers.. []

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"