Wednesday, December 20, 2017

New Tesla Electric Heavy Haulage Truck Set to Change the Freight Industry as Orders Come In

(but all depends on that key battery life)
Shipping News Feature
US – As with anything having the name Tesla attached, the updates on the new all electric semi-truck from the company are accompanied by a frisson of excitement, the feeling that this really may be a game changer for much of the road haulage freight industry, despite the Presidential attitude to climate change. As ever Tesla boss Elon Musk has accompanied this latest achievement with a balanced sales technique and press coverage which has given the company some impressive first order statistics.

So far, for a vehicle which will not hit the streets until at least 2019, Tesla have managed to acquire orders for quite a few of the new range. UPS wants 125, Walmart 15, Loblaws 25, Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser) 40, Sysco 50, Pepsico 100, DHL 10 and Schneider an undisclosed number. A pretty healthy mix of retail distributors and road hauliers. However the methods used to gain such attention for a completely new concept have been worth a look.

Despite deposits on each vehicle ranging up to $20,000 per unit Tesla has made it clear that these are fully refundable. Tesla has a lot of its own haulage work and one can be sure that the thousands of tonnes of batteries emanating from its Nevada Gigafactory will be carried by the company’s own brand of trucks (passing the huge neighbouring Wal-Mart distribution centre en route).

Already there are rumours of the trucks having autonomous ability, a natural progression for a company in the vanguard of such automotive technology. Again Nevada has allowances for testing such equipment, despite local law requiring a driver in every cab, there is a get out clause for testing of new equipment given Department of Motor Vehicle permission.

These initial orders for the new trucks represent only around 0.15% of new truck orders in the US annually but every company employed in haulage, in the US and every developed country, will be watching the progress of the vehicles which are said to be capable of up to 500 miles between charges and are set to revolutionise short haul trucking. Many will be primarily concerned with the life of the truck and that will be the test.

If the Tesla semi, which by the very nature of its motive power is bound to be more economical to run on a daily basis, can last the course without the expense of new batteries for a reasonable time, it may prove to be Musk’s most lucrative venture yet. We may be five or ten years away from a complete change in the road haulage industry as we currently know it.

Photo: The new truck. Note the central steering wheel making it suitable for all countries.