Wal-Mart has embarked on a wide-ranging environmental campaign it calls "Sustainability 360," and one of the program goals is to increase overall fleet efficiency by 25% over the next several years. To that end, the retail giant has taken delivery of its first Peterbilt Model 386 Hybrid. The 386 Hybrid is the truckmaker's (and the industry's) first Class 8 hybrid rig, and if projections are correct, using one could help drive down owner/operators' fuel costs by $9,000 a year (based on a diesel fuel price of $2.50/gallon), which is some serious green.
The hybrid system was developed by Eaton, and it works as you'd expect it to. Braking energy is captured and stored in the system's batteries, which provide juice to the truck's main electrical system, accessory systems, and a generator/motor that gives the vehicle extra torque and helps extend its overall range. When conditions allow, the rig can even run on batteries alone. While it serves in Wal-Mart's fleet, the truck will continue to be tested, evaluated and tweaked by Peterbilt ahead of the model's full production debut in 2009.