Wal-Mart checks hybrid trucks off shopping list

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is set to test two new types of heavy-duty commercial hybrid trucks and two different alternatively fueled heavy-duty trucks as part of the company’s efforts to having a more sustainable trucking fleet.

Wal-Mart has partnered with Arvin Meritor, Eaton, Peterbilt and International to develop and test these technologies, which will take place throughout 2009.

“In order to meet our goal of doubling our fleet efficiency, we are taking an active role in the development of these technologies,” said Chris Sultemeier, senior vice-president of transportation for Wal-Mart Stores. “We look forward to determining if these technologies will help reduce our environmental footprint, are viable for our business and provide a return on investment.”

Wal-Mart achieved more than a 25 percent increase in efficiency within its private fleet between 2005 and 2008, surpassing one of the company’s stated sustainability goals.

By reaching this goal, Wal-Mart has been able to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions and its fuel use. This goal was reached by using a combination of new, innovative technologies, better delivery routes and by loading its trailers more efficiently. Now, the company is working toward its goal of doubling its fleet efficiency by 2015, from its 2005 baseline.

Part of this pilot program is to determine if alternatively fueled trucks can help move Wal-Mart toward that goal in addition to reducing environmental impacts.

One of the new trucks being tested is a full-propulsion Arvin Meritor hybrid that will initially operate in the Detroit area. This dual-mode diesel-electric hybrid is believed to be the first vehicle of its type.

“While most hybrid systems today are best suited for start-stop applications, our hybrid drivetrain is specifically designed for linehaul, over-the-road trucks, the largest segment of the commercial vehicle population,” said Carsten J. Reinhardt, president of ArvinMeritor¹s Commercial Vehicle Systems (CVS) business.

The Meritor dual-mode hybrid drivetrain combines both mechanical and electrical propulsion systems. Under 48 mph, vehicle propulsion is delivered entirely through an electric motor with power from lithium ion batteries. These batteries are recharged through regenerative braking and/or an engine-driven generator. As the vehicle approaches highway speed, the drivetrain phases to a diesel-powered system with the electric motor providing power, only as required, allowing for total system optimization.

The key differentiation of this system is its ability for zero-emission mode over a wide range of vehicle driving conditions. Additionally, the batteries provide continuous power for hotel loads during an overnight rest period, eliminating the need for engine idling or other redundant anti-idling systems.

The Meritor hybrid drivetrain was developed in collaboration with Navistar and Cummins and is comprised of a proprietary motor/generator unit, high capacity lithium ion batteries, as well as the overall power-management system.

Other initiatives include:

– Fifteen trucks operating in Buckeye, Ariz. distribution center near Phoenix, will be converted to run on Reclaimed Grease Fuel, made with the waste brown cooking grease from Walmart stores. In addition, the remaining trucks located in the Buckeye distribution center will operate on an 80/20 blend of biodiesel made of reclaimed yellow waste grease.
– Five Peterbilt Model 386 heavy duty hybrid trucks with diesel-electric hybrid power systems developed by Eaton Corporation and PACCAR, that will be based in Dallas, Houston, Apple Valley, Calif., Atlanta and the Washington/Baltimore regions.
– Four Peterbilt Model 386 trucks and one yard truck, which operates only on the distribution center property, will operate on liquid natural gas. These trucks are part of a partnership with the Mojave Air Quality Management District and will operate out of the distribution center in Southern California.
 

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