Large Trucks Go Green

Gas prices are at all times highs leading drivers to seek alternative methods of transportation. The SUV boom of the 1990's is now overstocking used car lots as people opt for smaller, more fuel efficient cars. Another motivation for this trend towards the tiny is the ever increasing harm of pollution and depletion of natural resources on the planet. In the last 20 years, carbon emissions have increased at an unprecedented rate of 1.5 ppm per year.

But what about the vehicles that have to retain their large size? Big rigs, 18-wheelers, and other commercial vehicles are staples of the economy. Their heavy freights require that they be carried by equally heavy vehicles and large, powerful engines.

Wal-Mart has decided to set the standard in reducing fuel emissions in its large freight trucks. Their long distance trucks are currently powered by diesel engines, which are more efficient than unleaded than others getting 25% better mileage than gasoline engines and 50% better than ethanol.

A new goal has been set by Wal-Mart to double fuel efficiency from 6.5 to 13 miles per gallon for its new heavy duty trucks. The company has set 2015 as the deadline for this goal. This initiative, which will affect the 3,300 trucks operated by Wal-Mart, would keep more than 26 billion pounds of carbon dioxide out of the air from its start until the year 2020.

Pairing itself with the Rocky Mountain Institute, the retail giant introduced new trucks with energy saving improvements like better aerodynamics, transmissions, tires, as well as installing APUs in all its trucks. These efforts have reduced carbon output from their delivery vehicles by 100,000 cubic feet per year. They also have hybrid fleet of 100 light-duty vehicles that they plan to double.

Wal-Mart worked with the Rocky Mountain Institute to introduce new trucks with many energy saving improvements including better aerodynamics, transmissions and tires. Wind skirts under the trailer significantly reduced wind resistance and improved mileage. Wal-Mart combined the two wheels normally seen on a rear axle into a single wheel that is not quite as wide as the sum of two wheels. This gives a smoother ride and better fuel economy from the reduced surface area and improved tire wall stiffness. Wal-Mart also has more than 100 hybrid light-duty vehicles fleet, with plans to double its hybrid fleet.

Many long-haul trucks from other carriers waste a vast amount of fuel running their idling. It is often necessary to run the electronics in the cabin air conditioning, heating and communications. To ease some of these costs are increasing the number of electrified truck stops. The electricity network will be available at these breakpoints, allowing vacationers to stop the engines and fuel economy.

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