Wal-Mart redesigning its trucks for greater efficiencies

As part of Wal-Mart's program to double the fuel efficiency of its heavy-duty truck fleet in 10 yeas, not only have they just announced that they're investigating dual-mode, diesel-electric drivetrains, but other cutting edge truck technologies may be on the way as well. The Rocky Mountain Institute, who developed the Hypercar concept, has been working with Wal-Mart to redesign its truck platform with the focus on aerodynamics, tires, transmissions, and auxiliary power systems.

In a bid to reduce wind resistance and drag, the tractor has been redesigned to be significantly more aerodynamic plus the trailer gains side skirts; "wide based" and/or high-efficiency tires, whose reduced rolling resistance improves fuel economy; and the replacement of one regular rear axle with a tag (load-bearing only) axle, which reduces the truck's weight.

I really wonder why it has taken so long to re-visit the aerodynamics of freight trucks - crude though it may be, the photo above is from research Nasa was doing into air flow testing on aerodynamic trucks in 1975. That's 32 years ago and yet really nothing has changed with the trucks you're likely to see on the roads today.

[Source: Rocky Mountain Institute via Seeking Alpha]

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