(Jul 17, 2007)

Wal-mart to cut truck fuel use

By Marcus Kabel
From AP

Yatsko said that the 25 percent gain will apply to most of the fleet but not to all of it by late 2008. Wal-Mart will need to switch out its older trucks over time but expects to have at least half the fleet up to date with the most efficient trucks by the end of 2008 and the rest completed by 2010.

As the retailer continues to look for fuel gains in components, driving practices, tires, fuel and other areas, the total effect could be a savings of 28 or 30 percent from the 2005 base by the time the entire fleet is updated, Yatsko said.

That leaves the 100-percent goal.

Yatsko says the biggest piece of the solution will come from future hybrid diesel-electric engines. Wal-Mart is pitching in $2 million a year for research and development by two teams of national truck manufactures _ International Truck with ArvinMeritor Inc. and Peterbilt with Eaton _ and has agreed to buy the prototypes.

New hybrid engines will deliver about a 50 percent efficiency increase on top of the 25 percent set for next year, Yatsko said.

Wal-Mart is also working with Great Dane on prototype trailers that would cut fuel use with the help of aerodynamic designs, including adding a cover or skirting down the sides at the bottom of the truck and crimping the back end of the trailer so that the sides and top turn in.

The effect of that back end design could add 5-6 percent to fuel efficiency by cutting wind drag, Yatsko said.

All of this work has to pay for itself, Yatsko said. Changes and additions to the fleet have to provide a return on investment or they cannot be sustained, he said.

''I definitely think we're leading the industry,'' Yatsko said.

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