Inside the Walmart Supercube

Walmart Canada recently unveiled a tractor-trailer configuration that allows the retailer to ship up to 30% more product than a standard 53-foot trailer, which would eliminate approximately one truck trip for every three deliveries. The company plans to test two tractors and four trailers in Ontario, Canada.

Is this legal and on the road?

Not yet. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation is still sorting out the permit conditions for this pilot project, including qualifications for carriers and drivers. The permits would be issued to Walmart Canada’s individual carriers and not to Walmart Canada, which has no trucks of its own.

What are the trailer specs?

The total trailer length is 60.5 feet with a 62-inch kingpin setting. The inside trailer height is 126 inches on the lower/main deck and 100 inches on the upper deck. Total inside cube: 5,100 cubic feet (compared to 3,900 cubic feet for a 53-foot trailer). Apart from the length of the trailer, the overall combination length, height, width, gross weight, and wheelbase are the same as a standard tractor-trailer. The wheelbase of the trailer is no different than that of a 53-footer, but the swing from the overhang will be something to see.

What’s the box on the back of the tractor?

That’s a 7-foot-long dromedary box. It adds 10% cubic capacity to the vehicle and can accommodate four skids. The drom box rolls to the back of truck frame for easier loading and unloading at a dock door.

What are the benefits of the Supercube?

This initiative is part of Walmart Canada’s “environmental sustainability” program, with a goal to reduce emissions through better truck productivity. Whether it can accomplish this goal is debatable.

One reason is the tractor, a Freightliner Argosy cabover glider kit. You may remember the Argosy, which Freightliner stopped building in North America in 2006. With its shorter wheelbase, the Argosy is the one tractor that can make this configuration work. Unfortunately, the glider kit is only available with an EPA02 engine, which falls well short of current emissions standards for heavy-duty diesel engines.

Walmart Canada’s new Supercube, with a total capacity of 5,100 cubic feet, will roll out in a pilot program after it receives necessary permits. [Photo credit: ITD Trailers)