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Thursday, Jun 20, 2024

Turbine gives spark to Wal-Mart Truck

A new concept delivery truck for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. comes with a microturbine, made by Chatsworth’s Capstone Turbine Inc., designed to extend the mileage range of the vehicle. The Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience truck was built for the Bentonville, Ark., retailer by Peterbilt Motors Co., a subsidiary of Paccar Inc., in Bellevue, Wash. It has a hybrid motor that runs on battery power. The turbine also uses diesel or natural gas to generate electricity and recharge the battery on the road, eliminating down time for the vehicle or swapping out batteries. “Although not on the road in its current form, it will serve as a learning platform for the future that will accelerate our progress toward our goals,” said Tracy Rosser, Wal-Mart’s senior vice president of transportation, in a prepared statement. Capstone Chief Executive Darren Jamison said that supplying the component for a truck developed for the world’s largest retailer is a bonus for the company. “The weight and clout of Wal-Mart is more exciting than any other customer I could pick,” he said. Getting a microturbine into a tractor-trailer truck, even if it’s just a prototype, takes the company back to its roots, Jamison said. When the company started in 1988, electric vehicles had been identified as a primary market. With the design of the truck, Peterbilt projected what future semis will look like. There is a single seat in the middle of the cab that allows the driver to make 180-degree turns. The body is made from a carbon-fiber material. “It is cutting edge in all facets and not just the microturbine,” Jamison said. Since 1998, Capstone has delivered about 8,500 of its microturbines to primarily industrial and commercial customers. The company employs more than 200 people at its headquarters and two plants in Chatsworth and Van Nuys as well as sales and service personnel in New York, Mexico City, Shanghai, Singapore and the United Kingdom. In addition to the Wal-Mart truck, Capstone has provided microturbines for a refrigerated delivery truck used in a demonstration project in the San Joaquin Valley and for a semi used at the Port of Los Angeles. While still a few years away from widespread use in heavy-duty vehicles, automotive microturbines could give Capstone a huge market for its product. “This is all virgin territory,” Jamison said. “This is all growth and high-volume manufacturing for us.” – Mark R. Madler

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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