This could be the truck of the future. At least, that may be the case for Walmart's massive fleet of 6,500 tractors that help supply its stores. It's called the Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience (WAVE), and it's said to be 20 percent more aerodynamic than the company's current fleet. Walmart CEO Doug McMillion says it has a "micro-turbine hybrid powertrain that can run on diesel, natural gas, biodiesel and probably other fuels still to be developed." There's also a battery pack on board with limited electric range.
As you might have guessed from the CEO's statement, the WAVE is merely a concept at this point. "It may never make it to the road," McMillion admits, though he adds that "it will allow us to test new technologies and new approaches."
Nevertheless, there are some impressive ideas on display here, and the most impressive feat might just be in the back of the truck. The trailer itself is made entirely from carbon fiber, including two massive, 53-foot-long panels for the sides. Walmart says that these are the largest custom-made carbon fiber panels ever, and the end result is that the trailer weighs some 4,000 pounds less than traditional models.
Up in front, the tractor's aerodynamic shape is made possible by a reconfigured cab. The driver has a center-mounted seat and the doors slide open, allowing the body of the vehicle to taper. And inside there are some improvements as well: instead of traditional gauges, the driver is flanked by a few LCD panels with customizable readouts. Walmart hasn't announced any plans for the vehicle yet, but presumably someday in the future trucks on the road will look something like the WAVE.