Walmart expands electric, hydrogen, natural-gas truck testing

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Freightliner’s eCascadia battery-electric semi.

Retail giant Walmart said on Wednesday it is expanding transportation pilot programs with manufacturers of electric, hydrogen and natural gas-powered vehicles, including Cummins and Daimler Truck’s Freightliner.

The partnerships, which are in addition to previously announced transportation agreements, are part of Walmart’s 2040 goal to achieve zero emissions for its global operations, including its fleet of approximately 10,000 tractors and 80,000 trailers.

A larger number of companies have pushed into the growing commercial EV space in an effort to reduce emissions. But Walmart’s US senior vice president, Fernando Cortes, warned that the company was in its early stages.

“We’re still in the testing phase and trying out these technologies,” Cortes said. “We know that for us to decarbonize our fleet, there is no single solution that can really scale us up and be ready to give us the future we want.”

Walmart said it will receive an unspecified number of new 15-liter Cummins natural gas engines early next year, which the retailer plans to include in its trucks.

Walmart said it had signed an agreement with Chevron Corp to supply compressed natural gas.

Walmart said it also plans to pilot a battery-powered battery of Freightliner’s eCascadia and Nikola Corp’s Tre BEV heavy-duty trucks at one of its distribution centers in California this summer.

It also plans to test hydrogen-powered yard trucks by Texas-based Capacity.

The retailer announced in January that it had reserved 5,000 electric vans with BrightDrop, General Motors’ commercial EV company.

Walmart Canada said in 2020 it had reserved 130 Semi trucks from Tesla Inc, but the EV leader has yet to begin production of the Semi.

Cortes said Walmart US was trying to understand which solutions worked best in its fleet. “We have the opportunity to buy Tesla’s electric semi-trucks, but we have not made any public commitments,” he said.