Future truck-trailer combinations

The truck-trailer combination that was recently presented by Wal-Mart is an impressive demonstration of a futuristic vehicle combination that challenges the traditional truck and trailer industry. With a trailer for the first time built almost exclusively of carbon fibre, the hybrid-powered aerodynamic prototype designed by truck manufacturer Peterbilt and trailer manufacturer Great Dane is 4,000 pounds lighter than Wal-Mart’s existing trucks. It also boasts fully-customizable screens, providing drivers the ability to monitor performance gauges in real time. From its sleek sliding doors, centred driver’s seat that bears a liking to a captain’s chair on a spaceship, to the monitors that stick out from both sides of the dashboard like antennas, the vehicle has a futuristic feel that is different from the 18-wheelers commonly seen on the US roads today.  

The Wal-Mart prototype has frequently been titled as a “Transformer”, and it has indeed a lot of connections to the EU-funded project TransFormers. It is in the same way aiming at pushing the boundaries of transport efficiency by using the multifaceted knowledge and skills in the industry, and optimizing the overall design of the vehicle combination. Like the Wal-Mart truck, the TransFormers project is aiming at improving fuel efficiency by hybridization. This will allow the vehicle to store energy when it otherwise would be wasted, and then re-using it when it is needed the most. By also demonstrating a distributed driveline with an Electric Motor/Generator (EMG) and Electric

al Storage Unit (ESU) installed in the trailer, the TransFormers vehicle is also demonstrating the possibilities of mission rightsizing by utilizing the already available modularity of today’s vehicles. In line with this flexible approach, the project will also demonstrate how the aerodynamics of the vehicle combination can be adapted and optimized to its current cargo and transport mission.


Given the differences in legislation between US and Europe, and the scope of the two mentioned projects, the TransFormers demonstrator will perhaps not reach the futuristic visual feel of the Wal-Mart truck, but will nonetheless demonstrate a 25% increase in transport efficiency. This work is done closely in parallel with EU legislations, to allow for a maximum utilization of both European vehicles, and in its turn the European road network.

Read the article on the Wal-Mart prototype



HoD Trailer awarded [SCB]
TRANSFORMERS Final Conference


Facts & Figures

  • Full name: Configurable and Adaptable Trucks and Trailers for Optimal Transport Efficiency
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Start date: 1 September 2013
  • Total budget: 7.9 M€
  • EC Funding: 5.2 M€


  • Develop and demonstrate Hybrid-on-Demand Driveline for Truck-trailer Combination
  • Develop innovative complete vehicle aerodynamic measures
  • Develop innovative loading efficiency measures