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Walmart’s Futuristic ‘Jetson’ Tractor-Trailer

BENTONVILLE, AR — Picture a slick futuristic truck design, all smooth curves to maximize aerodynamics, made of strong, durable but lightweight material, carbon fibre – the stuff used on parts of some luxury cars. That’s “Jetson”, a concept truck that Walmart showed off earlier this week at a sustainability conference.

As Jetson’s doors slide open sideways, the truck driver hops in the cab and sits down at the wheel, in the middle like a rocket-ship pilot.

It’s not taking off into space, but the tractor, powered by a microturbine-electric hybrid drive system, and a trailer, made entirely of carbon fiber, could significantly slash greenhouse gas emissions and save fuel.

Peterbilt Motors, Capstone Turbine and Great Dane Trailer are among suppliers who assembled the vehicle.  

Here’s a minute long video that explains its features:

The cabin tilts, cab-over-engine style, to reveal the turbine, generator, battery pack and electric motor that powers the tandem-rear axles. Inside, the streamlined cabin has electronic-readout instrument panels on either side of the steering wheel. There’s a full sleeper at the back.

The 53-foot trailer is entirely made of carbon fiber, which has not been done before. In fact, it’s the first time that one-piece 53-foot panels were ever built. Its nose is “convex” – rounded like trailers of the 1930s – to smooth air flow and add cargo space.

The company officially calls the rig the Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience, or WAVE, but executives won’t say how much more aerodynamic or lightweight the vehicle is, or whether they’ll actually purchase rigs like it. But they did say such a truck would help them get closer to their goal of cutting in half their energy spending by 2015.

For more futuristic-looking trucks, see truckinginfo’s photo gallery.

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Maybe Walmart should just concentrate on treating their workers, suppliers and business partners with fairness. Really this is just s cheap plug for free advertising from the worlds worst retailer.

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