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WalMart expands transportation partnerships with electric and hydrogen vehicle pilots

By Tina Bellon and Siddharth Cavale

(Reuters) – Retail giant Walmart Inc said on Wednesday it was expanding its transportation pilot projects with makers of electric, hydrogen and natural gas vehicles, including Cummins Inc and Daimler Truck’s Freightliner.

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

More companies have jumped into the growing EV business space in an effort to reduce emissions. But Walmart’s senior vice president in the United States, Fernando Cortes, warned that the company was in its infancy.

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

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

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

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

It also plans to test construction trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cells by Texas-based Capacity.

The retailer announced in January that it had reserved 5,000 electric delivery vans from BrightDrop, General Motors’ electric vehicle business.

Walmart Canada in 2020 said it had reserved 130 Semi trucks from Tesla Inc, but the electric vehicle leader has yet to start manufacturing the Semi.

Cortes said Walmart US is trying to figure out which solutions work best in its fleet. “We have the option to buy Tesla’s electric tractor-trailers, but we have not shared any public commitment,” he said.

(Reporting by Tina Bellon in Austin, Texas, and Siddharth Cavale in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)