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What Does Walmart's Advanced Vehicle Experience Mean for Truckstops?

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators, Fuel and Trucking

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Welcome to the newest post in our blog series, Darren’s Great Ideas! for Independent Operators

What Does Walmart's Advanced Vehicle Experience Mean for Truckstops?

The trucking industry is buzzing with news of Walmart's Advanced Vehicle Experience. The truck prototype combines aerodynamics, mictroturbine-hybrid powertrain, electrification, advanced control systems, and cutting edge materials like carbon fiber all in one vehicle with the end goal of drastically improving fuel efficiency.

As truckstop operators have already seen, some to a greater degree than others, the significant mileage improvements from a percentage stand point have made it possible for drivers to stop less often.

It is understood that hours-of-service regulations play a role in location visits, but if a vehicle, such as Walmart’s AV, moves the mileage improvement from the low five-miles-per-gallon or high seven-miles-per-gallon range to the 12 miles-per-gallon range, that is a huge impact from a percentage stand point on our fuel gallons. I personally believe that a fueling stop is different than an hours-of-service stop and that fewer fuel stops will have an impact on other sales within the profit center. 

The trailer is made almost exclusively with carbon fiber, saving around 4,000 pounds, which can then be used to carry more freight resulting in fewer trucks on the road. This could impact the truckstop and travel plaza industry in many different ways, but many of which could be positive. For example, it could lead to more opportunity in the shops to repair the trailers and tires. While these are current activities, the new trailer could possibly bring in a host of safety features and thus repair opportunities that we don’t even consider today. 

Operators may also find shop opportunities related to the new gauges, which are electronic. Turn and click seems to wear out much slower than anything electronic. Additionally there are likely opportunities for add-on sales in areas we have not yet considered. That is a trend that continues to develop with electronic technology.

Another thing to consider is if this AV also becomes self-driving, it could change how the driver entertains him or herself while they are moving down the road. Could it be that drivers would no longer need to eat food that is easy to eat while safely driving?  Does the ability to eat spaghetti and or Pho style soups while driving safety become part of the norm?

Going forward, I expect we will see more of these trucks, certainly maybe not this particular one, but trucks that have improved load capabilities, expanded entertainment and connectivity capabilities, increased safety and driving mechanisms and serious MPG improvements. They are here now and more are coming and we, as an industry, better be prepared.  

 

/// Read more Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators posts here.

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About the Author

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte serves as Vice President of Membership at NATSO. In this role, he directs recruitment, retention and customer service for truckstop and travel plaza members. He is also responsible for developing NATSO products and programs, particularly those relating to education, research and training for truckstop and travel plaza operators.

Schulte also leads NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program. A Profitable Retail Review is a custom assessment of your truckstop, including recommendations for every aspect of your facility, from actionable ideas to improve revenue to tactical ways to improve your net operating costs. Learn about NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program here.

Schulte joined NATSO with nearly three decades of experience in truckstop and travel plaza operations and merchandising. Schulte has worked for: 

  • Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores,
  • HESS Corporation, 
  • Petro Stopping Centers, and
  • TSC Global/Barjan LLC.