Walmart May Save $300 Million with Fleet Efficiency

Walmart May Save $300 Million with Fleet Efficiency

Peterbilt 386 hybrid(Updated 8/4/09; Original 3/20/07). Walmart operates 7,000 trucks that in 2005 drove 872 million miles to make 900,000 deliveries to its 6,600 stores. Wal-Mart has set a goal of doubling the fleet efficiency by 2015 from a 2005 baseline.

Wal-Mart operates the nation’s second largest private fleet. Wal-Mart is also famous for being operationally efficient. Every large fleet and logistics operator hopes to save millions by learning from Wal-Mart’s new initiatives. Wal-Mart has hundreds of hybrid passenger vehicles. Now Wal-Mart sees bigger potential savings in heavy-duty Class 8 trucks.

Wal-Mart uses a three-phase new technology deployment process, to test and pilot promising technologies, and then deploy the technologies that make economic and environmental sense.


  • In partnership with Arvin Meritor, Wal-Mart is testing a first of its kind, full-propulsion, dual-mode, diesel-electric hybrid in the Detroit area. The truck is powered solely by battery at speeds of less than 48 mph and is currently on the test track.
  • In Phoenix, Arizona, fifteen trucks are being retrofitted to run on reclaimed brown waste cooking grease from Walmart stores and will be the first of their kind.


  • Working with Eaton Corp, Wal-Mart has five diesel assist hybrid trucks in-market now. The trucks are pulling loads in Texas, California, Georgia, and Maryland.
  • In Southern California, five class 8 Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) trucks are hauling loads.


  • Walmart accelerates investments in trucking fleet efficient technologies across all new trucks:
    • Engine calibration and installing Auxiliary Power Units (APUs).
    • Addition of five-hundred new aerodynamic trucks to our fleet.
    • Trailer side skirts, Super single tires, Aerodynamic tractor package, and Tag axles.

Wal-Mart is defying the conventional wisdom that hybrid technology is of little help for large trucks that already have efficient diesel engines. Wal-Mart delivers goods from regional warehouses on an optimized route to its stores. Routes often involve heavy stop-go city driving. With hybrid technology, every touch of the brakes causes energy to be captured. Where trucks previously idled with engines running, hybrids can run all auxiliary power with the engine off, using large battery stacks for the electricity.

The Eaton heavy-duty hybrid system with idle reduction features an automated manual transmission with a parallel-type direct hybrid system, incorporating a 44 kW electric motor/generator located between the output of an automated clutch and the input to Eaton’s Fuller UltraShift transmission.

The system captures energy generated by the diesel engine and recovers energy normally lost during braking and stores the energy in batteries. That electric torque is then sent through the motor/generator and blended with engine torque to improve vehicle performance, operate the engine in a more fuel-efficient range for a given speed and/or operate only with electric power in certain situations.

The system’s batteries power the heating, air conditioning and vehicle electrical systems while the engine is off. When the idle reduction mode is active, engine operation is limited to battery charging, an automatically controlled process that takes approximately five minutes per hour to fully charge the system. With a successful test and evaluation program, the heavy-duty hybrid electric power system will be available in 2009.

Wal-Mart Transportation is also evaluating an ArvinMeritor hybrid dual-mode diesel-electric tractor prototype. It will be based on an International Class 8 ProStar tractor and powered by a Cummins engine. ArvinMeritor will provide the tandem axle, regenerative braking system, air disc brakes and advanced ABS with integrated stability control and driver assistance systems, software, electronic controls, transfer case, motors, as well as the battery power.

“ArvinMeritor is a leader in all areas of drivetrain and brake system development for heavy-duty commercial vehicles and is an ideal partner for Wal-Mart for the development of these dual-mode diesel-electric systems,” said Tim Yatsko, Senior Vice President of Transportation for Wal-Mart.

A big loss for Wal-Mart and all long distance truckers is that engines are left running at stops for many auxiliary needs including air conditioning, heating, running electronics inside the cab and more. Not waiting for the implementation of hybrid drive systems, Wal-Mart installed auxiliary power units on new trucks.

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 is also disciplined about keeping tires properly inflated.

Wal-Mart saves diesel fuel both with vehicle technology and common sense. By working with its suppliers, Wal-Mart is fitting more goods in smaller and lighter packaging. More goods move in a truck without adding weight. Fuel is saved.

Fleet efficiency is just part of part of Wal-Mart’s sustainability strategy.

AQMD Orders 30 more PHEV

AQMD Orders 30 more PHEV

PHEVSouth Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) is ordering 30 more plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) that are likely to achieve over 100 mpg. Ten will be Toyota (TM) Priuses converted to PHEV by Hymotion using A123 5kWh lithium nanophosphate polymer batteries. 20 will be Ford (F) Escapes converted to PHEV by Quantum (QTWW) using Advanced Lithium Power batteries.

Total investment in the 30 vehicles and charging stations will be $3,777,843. AQMD will contribute most of the money. The recent contract award gives AQMD participants the opportunity to make additional purchases of the awarded vehicles. The winning vendors will also participate in cost sharing. Award Details

South Coast AQMD has been a key force in facilitating the transition to clean transportation for the 16 million people that it serves in Southern California. Improving health and air quality are the primary motivations.

If you drive 10,000 miles per year, then you average about 27 miles per day. 80% of the time, a U.S. driver does not exceed 50 vehicle miles in one day. Since most U.S. households have two vehicles, millions could have one be an electric vehicle with a range of greater than 50 miles. The gasoline powered vehicle could take care of the occasional distance trips. Yet, families and friends resist the idea of sharing cars. Many also insist that each car be ready to go hundreds of miles on a moments notice.

Southern California is home to thousands of battery electric vehicles (BEV). Most are specialized utility vehicles limited in range and in speeds of 25 mph. New EVs with greater range and freeway speeds are coming from companies like Phoenix Motorcars and Tesla Motors.

The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) may be ideal for people who like the green benefits of running on electricity, but require extended range. PHEVs can potentially handle most trips in electric-only mode. The Priuses ordered by AQMD can only run in electric mode at speeds under 35 miles per hour.

AQMD has been achieving over 100 mpg in its test of a Toyota Priuses modified to be a PHEV using Valence batteries. AQMD has also seen success with two PHEV DaimlerChrysler Sprinter Vans. One uses NiMH batteries. The other Saft li-ion batteries. Five more PHEV Sprinter Vans are planned for carrying passengers. Major Southern California electric utilities and the City of Santa Monica have also been early owners of PHEVs.

The idea of plugging-in is not new. We are in the habit of recharging our mobile phone every night. Soon, we may also be recharging our vehicle every night. Hymotion is planning on making PHEV conversion kits available to consumers later in 2007. Hymotion is targeting a price of $9,500 installed for the Prius. PHEV enthusiasts are likely to convert. Since the conversions normally void Toyota and Ford factory warranties, many consumers will wait for the OEMs to make their own offerings. Fleet conversion kits are now offered. Green Car Congress Article

The 30 AQMD plug-in hybrid bid award winners are averaging over $100,000 per vehicle for several reasons: the larger Ford Escapes require more batteries, vehicle crash tests are required, 60-month warranties are provided, charging stations are included. Over the next few years, prices for PHEV and EV will fall.

PHEV awards are being made in increasing quantities. These financial awards and the successful implementation of the vehicles will encourage major automotive OEMs to start selling their own PHEVs. Toyota and GM have formally announced PHEV development. GM owns about 15% of Quantum, which in turn owns 19.9% of Advanced Lithium Power. No OEM has committed to a specific timeframe for PHEV commercial sales. Mitsubishi will start selling a commercial EV in 2010 in Japan; target price, under $20,000.

Plug-in hybrids are estimated to provide these well-to-wheels benefits over normal hybrids: 35% – 50% reduction in NOx and ROG; 45% – 65% reduction in petroleum; 30% – 45% reduction in greenhouse gases. Those savings are in California where most electricity is generated with natural gas and coal, but some with wind and geothermal. If you live where it all comes from coal, the environmental benefits are less. Plug-in hybrid technology can also be used with cleaner fuels resulting in future emission improvements.

AQMD is likely to place many of the new PHEVs where renewable energy is provided with wind, solar and renewable energy credits. Emission reductions will be greater in these locations.

According to the California Electric Transportation Coalition that commissioned a study, if automakers begin producing Plug-Ins within the next few years, 2.5 million cars (eight percent of the cars on the road) could be plug-ins by the year 2020. That’s the equivalent of taking as many as 5 million of today’s vehicles off the road. Annually, which means that 11.5 million tons of CO2 emissions won’t contribute to global warming and 1.14 billion gallons of gasoline would be saved each year.

Solar Santa Monica

Solar Santa Monica

Solar roofWith panoramic views of the ocean, over 86,000 make Santa Monica their home. On the edge of Los Angeles, Santa Monica is a desirable place to work and live. Residents want to keep it that way and make the city a model of sustainable living.

Santa Monica plans to be the nation’s first “Net Zero” city. Through energy efficiency, solar and other renewable energy, the city envisions generating clean energy that matches its total energy consumption.

Santa Monica currently has over 60 buildings with solar power. Other residential and commercial buildings are in the process of installing solar roofing.

The Civic Center Parking Structure will have 250 kW of PV. Where the city government does not use solar power, the city has contracted with Electric America to supply the City with 100% renewable electricity. Electric America has the flexibility to use a mix of renewable sources including geothermal, wind, biomass power plants, and solar.

Solar Santa Monica launched a two year program on January 1, 2007. The voluntary program starts with 50 residential and commercial buildings. With the benefit of what is learned from these 50 projects, the program will be made available to all. The 50 buildings will include 30 to 35 residences, 5 to10 business and 5 municipal buildings.

Susan Munves estimated that over 20 years, $1.4 billion is the probable investment required to achieve being a “Net Zero” city. This is likely to be less than the current utility electric costs. The city will only invest a small part of that investment. The city’s primary role is facilitating and project management. Santa Monica’s 20 year plan would eliminate electricity produced by coal and natural gas power plants, and all the resulting greenhouse gas emissions.

Stuart Cooley, Energy Efficiency Engineer for the city, explained that a detailed GIS database was developed of all the roofs of the city. Aerial photography was used to identify over 100MW of available rooftops on the 17,500 roofs in the city. With future solar PV technology, the roofs could represent even more solar energy potential.

Solar Santa Monica makes it easy for citizens to participate. To prevent excess expensive solar power from being installed, the city offers energy audits and identifies solutions from efficient fluorescent lighting to energy saving appliances to cut usage. The city is prequalifing “preferred partners” to install efficiency upgrades. Prepackaged PV and solar thermal systems are offered to residents and include preferred pricing, streamlined purchasing, permitting, installation and financing.

For commercial properties, Solar Santa Monica will provide comprehensive energy assessments for both the property owners and the leasing businesses. Proposals will be delivered with energy bill analysis, system specifications and pay-back analysis. Tax advantages will be detailed. Preferred financing sources will be offered.

Santa Monica goes beyond clean electricity to be a city that models clean transportation. Use of electric vehicles increases every year. The city has over 30 battery electric vehicles (BEV). The largest BEVs are Toyota RAVs which are used by inspectors, engineers, and in other city jobs. The city has a variety of light electric vehicles (LEV) including Dymac, Columbia, e-Ride, GEM, and Taylor-Dunn which make ideal utility vehicles for people maintaining parks, the Pier, and Promenade. The small size and quiet-running of these LEVs are appropriate are in these public places.

The city is now planning on adding two Phoenix BEV sport utility trucks: one for the water department and one for the library. The Phoenix trucks have an impressive 130 mile range. Santa Monica will trickle recharge each night at 220 volts, rather than use Phoenix’s fast recharge option. In addition to the city’s BEV, there are 21 hybrid-electric vehicles. One Prius is an Energy CS plug-in hybrid that averages 120 miles per gallon.

Rick Sikes, Fleet Superintendent, showed me a wide range of clean vehicles. A total of 265 city vehicles run on natural gas, include heavy trucks and street sweepers. The City compresses natural gas from the same SoCal Gas pipeline residents use to cook with and heat water. The cost of this fuel has remained well under $2 per gallon equivalent, even when gasoline was over $3.00 per gallon.

Over 80% of the city’s 519 vehicles are either alternate fuel (alt-fuel) or electric. 100 of Santa Monica’s Big Bus fleet is liquid natural gas (LNG), which they state is 77% cleaner than diesel. LNG provides a 300 mile range. 88 buses run on B20 biodiesel. Only about 20 older buses run on standard diesel. Santa Monica is committed to the State of California’s zero-emission bus regulation. 15% of their fleet replacements starting in 2012 will either be battery-electric or hydrogen fuel cell.

5 of the city’s fleet of Toyota Priuses were converted by Quantum to run on pure hydrogen. The city has a Proton electrolyzer that splits water (H2O) into hydrogen and oxygen. Because the city buys renewable energy for the electricity that runs the electrolyzer, resulting in the hydrogen Priuses producing no green house gases, on a “well to wheels” basis. Over the next few years the city fleet will get cleaner. Hydrogen can be mixed with CNG to make many of the existing vehicles run cleaner.

For jobs like parking enforcement and quick commutes inside the city, the zero-emission vehicles are perfect, as are the 70-mile range hydrogen Priuses.

Santa Monica commuters are encouraged to burn less oil than the national average. Only 69% drive solo vs. 76% as the national average. In Santa Monica, 19% carpool, 7% bus, 3% walk and 2% bike to work. The city is making progress. In 1993, the average vehicle ridership was only 1.1; by 2005, it had jumped to 1.4.

Rideshare programs are encouraged. Financial incentives work. The City of Santa Monica implements a mandatory “Parking Cash Out” Program, which is a State law requiring employers of fifty or more employees who lease their parking and subsidize any part of their employee parking to offer their employees the opportunity to give up their parking space and rideshare to work instead. In return for giving up their parking space, the employer pays the employee the cost of the parking space. The city provides this for its only employees, achieving an AVR of almost 1.8.

Santa Monica is a model of clean transportation, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Actress Q’orianka Kilcher Drives a Zero-Emission Honda

Actress Q’orianka Kilcher Drives a Zero-Emission Honda

KilcherQ’orianka Kilcher was acclaimed for her starring role as Pocahontas in the 2005 film The New World. The National Board of Review awarded her Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actress. Ms. Kilcher was recognized as the Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture by the American Latino Media Arts Awards.

Q’orianka Kilcher is now turning heads as she silently drives by in her new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the Honda FCX. Honda’s advanced fuel cell technology program has been praised by fleet users during the last five years, typically leasing the vehicles for $500 per month. Several fleets have allowed a number of drivers to use the vehicles by making them part of employee pools. Two years ago, the Spallino family became the first retail customers for a fuel cell vehicle. 17-year-old Q’orianka Kilcher is now the youngest customer.

Ms. Kilcher took the keys to vehicle in Hollywood. Nearby, she will find a number of places to fill the vehicle in the Los Angeles area. The station at LA Airport is public. Others are for community fleets with limited public access requiring authorization.

“The best way to demonstrate the importance of next generation vehicles like the Honda FCX is to put the next generation of drivers behind the wheel,” said John Mendel, senior vice president of American Honda.

Kilcher at wheel of Honda Fuel cell car“As a young person today, I feel it is important to take initiative toward seeking positive solutions and stepping up the quest toward clean energy and environmental preservation,” said Q’orianka Kilcher. “When I first started pursuing my dream of a zero emissions vehicle as my first car, it seemed like a pretty unrealistic dream. With Honda’s innovation and support, my dream of helping the environment became a reality!”