While there remains a notable amount of skepticism from legacy trucking companies, the emergence of zero-emissions semi-trailers is looking more and more inevitable. Among these vehicles is the Tesla Semi, a battery-powered all-electric vehicle aimed at disrupting the lucrative trucking market.
Tesla pulled no punches with the Semi, with the Class 8 truck being capable of traveling up to 500 miles with one charge. In true Tesla tradition, the Tesla Semi is also very quick, thanks to its four Model 3-derived electric motors whose instant torque allows it to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 5 seconds flat without a trailer. That’s muscle car-level acceleration — from a large, fully capable electric long-hauler.
When Elon Musk announced the Semi last year, he noted that the vehicle is expected to start production sometime in 2019. Such a timeline is an aggressive goal for the company, considering that Tesla is yet to announce where the large electric truck would be built. Considering Elon Musk’s tendency to be overly optimistic about his targets, as well as Tesla head of investor relations Martin Viecha’s statement earlier this year when he noted that the company is “earnestly” planning on producing the Semi by 2020, skeptics of the company suggest that the all-electric truck would likely see notable manufacturing delays, just like the Model 3 and Model X.
Despite these reservations, Tesla Semi reservation holders appear to be fully confident in the company’s capability to deliver the vehicle. In a statement last month, NFI Industries vice president of fleet services James O’Leary, whose company ordered 10 Semis, stated that the electric car maker is actually staying relatively consistent with its self-imposed timeline.
“They are staying relatively consistent with their timeline, even though Elon doesn’t talk about it on their earnings call,” he said.
Albertsons Companies, one of the United States’ largest food and drug retailers, revealed its order of 10 Tesla Semis earlier this month. In a press release, the company noted that its adoption of the Semi is part of its efforts to decrease its overall carbon emissions and run a cleaner fleet. Tom Nartker, VP of Transportation, stated that Tesla Semi would play a part in advancing the company’s supply chain efficiency and sustainability as well.
“Advancing supply chain efficiency and sustainability is an important goal for our company. We’re excited to pilot this expansion of our transportation program with trucks that help us limit our overall carbon footprint,” Nartker said.
Much like the passenger car market, the emergence of electric-powered vehicles is starting to become notable in the trucking industry. Legacy automaker Daimler, for one, has released vehicles like an electrified Freightliner as an alternative to fossil fuel-powered trucks. Hydrogen-electric vehicles from startups like Nikola Motor are also expected to enter the market in the coming years. Amidst these competitors, the Tesla Semi could very well play a large part in the emerging zero-emissions trucking market, as it aims to prove that battery-powered long-haulers are fully-capable of performing tasks usually reserved for diesel trucks.
The market for the Tesla Semi is vast, and so far, reactions from the market have been encouraging. As of the company’s Q1 2018 earnings call, CEO Elon Musk and CTO JB Straubel noted that Tesla had around 2,000 reservations for the vehicle, from companies such as PepsiCo, FedEx, and UPS in the United States and Bee’ah from the United Arab Emirates, to name a few. Overall, Tesla appears to have targeted the perfect market that is ready to be disrupted with the Semi — and it is a market that is prepared to invest and wait for a vehicle that would satisfy its needs.