- Tesla Motors on Thursday unveiled a new, electric semi-truck with a 500-mile range, autopilot and "convoy" (or platooning) capabilities, marking the automaker's entry into the truck manufacturing market.
- A Tesla Semi can be reserved for $5,000 per truck, with production starting in 2019. Tesla claims owners can expect "$200,000 or more" in fuel cost savings alone by transitioning to the electric vehicle, and is ideal for short-haul trucking, considering 80% of U.S. freight moves within a 250-mile range.
- Just hours after the vehicle's launch event, J.B. Hunt Transport Services announced it had reserved "multiple Tesla Semi tractors," and had plans to deploy the vehicles in the West Coast upon delivery and would be used for local and dray routes. Walmart also joined the mix, announcing Friday it would also test the new trucks in the U.S. and Canada.
The electric vehicle revolution is here — heralded by a Tesla Semi with autopilot and platooning — and it could not come at a better time.
The drive to create a more sustainable supply chain is kicking into full gear, buoyed by increasingly lower energy costs and improved energy storage technologies. By transitioning to electric vehicles, companies including UPS, J.B. Hunt and Walmart can reduce operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions at once for a dual benefit.
In fact, everyone stands to gain from the rise of electric vehicles, as their increased acceptance will make it easier to comply with growing environmental regulations, particularly in states like California. At least that is the case at the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach, where a new clean air plan expects to phase out diesel trucks by 2024, using fees as a disincentive for their use.
"Our common goal is to add as many sustainable mobility and logistics options to the mass market as possible" - Congratulations for adding some more thunder, Elon!https://t.co/OidxdgvizW— Daimler AG (@Daimler) November 17, 2017
These market pressures are forcing truck manufacturers to develop more sustainable products. Vox reports a few electric semis on the market: Cummins released a Class 7 truck in August, and Loblaw Companies launched a Class 8 vehicle in November. Daimler, Nikola, Volvo and Toyota are not falling behind, either.
Tesla may be entering a competitive global market with the Tesla Semi, but it is doing so at the perfect time. Retailers, manufacturers and logistics providers alike are boosting their clean energy initiatives.
The question, then, is not whether the vehicle will be a success, but how long until a company develops an efficient long-haul alternative fuel truck?