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Walmart’s supercube gets warmer reception after permit conditions revised

TORONTO, Ont. -- Walmart Canada’s controversial ‘supercube’ configuration, consisting of a cabover tractor with dromedary box pulling a 60.5-ft. drop-deck semi-trailer will operate under revised permit conditions that reflect...

Walmart Canada's supercube.
Walmart Canada's supercube.

TORONTO, Ont. — Walmart Canada’s controversial ‘supercube’ configuration, consisting of a cabover tractor with dromedary box pulling a 60.5-ft. drop-deck semi-trailer will operate under revised permit conditions that reflect the concerns raised by the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA).

The 18-month trial will allow five qualified carriers to operate the new configurations, with each receiving four permits.

The OTA had voiced concerns about the initial permit conditions, which seemed to grant the permits to Walmart itself rather than the CVOR-holding carrier that would operate the equipment. The association says the revised permit conditions “reflect most of the recommendations put forward by OTA in recent weeks.”

“While for the most part the trucking industry would prefer to not have to deal with the whole question of extended length trailers, the association’s long-standing position is that it will not stand in the way of changes to Ontario’s truck weights and dimensions standards that would enhance the productivity of the industry, its customers or the provincial economy at large — so long as the proposed vehicles maintain or enhance highway/road safety; meet or exceed provincial dynamic performance standards; produce environmental benefits such as reduced GHG emissions; and allow for a sufficient return on investment,” said OTA president David Bradley. “In addition, OTA has also long held that only carriers with acceptable safety records – those who are prepared to ensure the safety of their fleets and their drivers – should have access to such special permits.”

Revisions to the permit conditions include:

* Stricter conditions, requiring the carrier to have been in the trucking business for at least five years and to hold a minimum of $5 million in liability insurance;

* Increased qualification requirements for drivers, to account for the configuration’s “swing-out” characteristics. Drivers will need to have five years of provable tractor-trailer driving experience and will require additional training;

* Specified origins and destinations.

The OTA also appealed to the province for a gradual phase-in of the number of operators and permits available, given the heavy investment the industry has already made in the industry-standard 53-ft. trailer. The revised permit reads: “based on the results of the (trial) evaluation, MTO will determine whether to and how to proceed with a measured roll-out of extended semi-trailer operations.”

The OTA is now more receptive to the supercube concept.

“It is clear that what we are now talking about is a very small, tightly controlled trial of a specific trailer design, not a wide open roll-out of a new, longer trailer standard,” Bradley said.

The full permit conditions can be found here.

The new restrictions don’t appear to address the fact the tractor is powered by an EPA02 engine within a Freightliner Argosy body. For more on that issue, you can read our opinion piece on why the configuration may not be as environmentally-friendly as it’s being presented here.

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5 Comments » for Walmart’s supercube gets warmer reception after permit conditions revised
  1. Shawn Marcil says:

    I’m so sick of hearing Bradley whine about this. I could list lots of facts why he isn’t the savour of the trucking industry that he thinks he is, but there isn’t enough room here.
    What is the big deal about this super cube? It isn’t any longer overall than a standard tractor trailer, with it’s deeper kingpin setting. If anything, I would think it would be safer than an LCV. And this one would be able to run on ALL roads.

    I’m also tired of hearing about the travesty of running EPA02 engines. Killing the environment eh? Did you ever think about the extra fuel the 07 to present engines run? And the refineries that have to make it.
    What about the factories that run to make all the replacement parts to keep these unreliable pieces of junk running? And where do these “throw-away” parts go and how are they disposed of?
    And how many factories make DEF fluid? And the containers it goes in? And what happens to all the disregarded empties?

    Am I missing something here?

  2. Larry James Hall says:

    Isn’t that just the case Mr. Marcil, much to do about nothing – as usual, it would appear that if it is not a CTA agenda item or an OTA member idea, it can’t be any good and needs to be overseen by the unelected Messiah of the entire Canadian trucking industry.

  3. Ken Slawson says:

    I really do not understand the problem, these types of units have been around for years just look at the moving and storage trucking companies. I think the OTA and CTA should use their platforms for more important issues that affect drivers and the trucking companies, like hours of sevice, poor highways, to many levels of policing to deal with, driver shortages, etc, etc, etc, etc.

  4. Jim Fraser says:

    If i read this correctly, why try anything that can improve truck usage unless there is a benefit to OTA members. This new configuration applies to retail deliveries that are floor loaded and are looking to get maximum cube,why the OTA has anything to say about this is beyond me. I assume that he has no confidence in the MTO or the carrier involved to do the right thing. Again every time i see an article that mentions the OTA it makes me wonder what there place is in the industry.

  5. Heather Murray says:

    Will these be conforming to standard hours of service regulations for the drivers – which includes loading & unloading time as well as driving time?

    One reason cab overs here were discontinued is because of the strain on the drivers physically. First sitting on top of a noisy engine 13 hours a day, second the constant ladder climbing effect in and out and in and out and in and out all day every day. It is much harder on the legs and calf muscles than the conventional trucks. If you don’t believe me than try it for a few months. My husband drove cabover for a number of years and is now suffering severe leg problems the doctor has traced back to his time in these trucks.

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