Back in 2014, a heavy-duty tractor-trailer operated by a microturbine was just one of the many ideas engineers dream of at night. Sure, it was an actual vehicle, shown at the 2014 Mid-America Trucking Show. But like many concept vehicles, it seemed more like a vehicle to drive technological development in other areas.
Things have changed, though, as the Los Angeles Times last week wrote about the prospects of microturbine technology in the trucking industry. The Times highlighted Walmart’s Advanced Vehicle Experience (WAVE) concept truck, which was what the retailer showed off at MATS in March 2014 with a Peterbilt-designed vehicle.
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Peterbilt’s Brent Hankins, an advanced concepts engineer, told the Times that demand for hybrid-electric technology is growing and the microturbine is a possible solution for the industry.
According to the Times, a Kenworth version of the truck, which was built with cooperation from Capstone Turbine Corp., is undergoing trail runs with a second test taking place at the Port of Los Angeles.
Read the Los Angeles Times story: Wal-Mart test truck aims to slash fuel consumption on big rigs
In an interview with Fleet Owner back in 2014, Elizabeth Fretheim, Walmart’s director, business strategy sustainability-logistics, explained that the WAVE is a combination that “features leading edge aerodynamics, an advanced turbine-powered, range-extending series hybrid powertrain, electrified auxiliary components and sophisticated control systems all in one package, developed in support of the company’s industry-leading sustainability program.”
The vehicle features a carbon-fiber constructed trailer built by Great Dane.
Watch: Bill Kahn, advanced concept engineering for Peterbilt Motors, explains the WAVE in this video, shot at the 2014 Mid-America Trucking Show.
According to Walmart, the WAVE’s use of a hybrid powertrain allows the turbine to remain at optimum operating RPMs while the electric motor/energy storage system handles acceleration and deceleration. It was noted that a longer-range version of this powertrain would feature a larger turbine and smaller energy storage system.