This year, the FreightWaves Research Institute conducted a study aimed at determining which companies are the most innovative and disruptive in the freight and logistics industry. From 500 companies, a panel of experts selected by the institute narrowed down the list to 25. These 25 companies represented the best that the freight and logistics industry has to offer, in terms of innovation, tech, and potential disruption.
Dubbed as the Freight.Tech25, the institute’s list of top companies included freight logistics heavyweights such as Amazon and J.B. Hunt. Standing near the top of the Top 25 list was Tesla, which placed third overall. Tesla was among the few automakers that made it to the Freight.Tech25, beating out Daimler, which placed 11th in the study’s rankings. Trucking startup Nikola Motor Company, which makes hydrogen-electric trucks, placed 24th in the Top 25 list.
FreightWaves (a publication behind the institute that conducted the study) has traditionally been quite bearish on Tesla, and in particular, Elon Musk. That said, the publication notes that behind all the drama and controversy surrounding its CEO, it is undeniable that Tesla has “set much of the conversation around autonomous (technologies) and electrification, and incumbents and OEMs across the globe are chasing them.” Led by the Tesla Semi and vehicles like the Model 3, the electric car maker seems poised to be a true disruptor in the transportation and logistics field.
Speaking in a symposium, James O’Leary, VP of NFI Industries fleet services noted that the long-haul industry today is becoming very particular about electrification. The NFI Industries executive had a name for the trend — the “Tesla Effect.”
“Nobody in North America was talking about electric vehicles until your local news outlets picked up the rollout of the Tesla Semi. That led basically to what we call the Tesla effect. Now shippers are asking their carriers where you are with electric vehicles,” he said.
Another surprising automaker that made it to the Freight.Tech25 is Tesla rival Nikola Motor, a company that creates hydrogen-electric long-haulers. Considering that the startup is yet to start the production of any of its vehicles, the company’s place in the FreightWaves Research Institute’s list is commendable. The institute has noted, though, that Nikola’s tech has received rave reviews in terms of fleet pre-orders. Thanks in part to the company’s practice of accepting orders without a reservation fee, Nikola has also reportedly received over $8 billion in pre-orders for its lineup of hydrogen-electric trucks — the Nikola One sleeper, the Nikola Two daycab, and the Nikola Tre, which is designed for the European and Australian market.
In true Nikola fashion, the trucking startup has issued a bold, optimistic statement on its official Twitter page, stating that while it was great to have made it into the Freight.Tech25, the company believes in the notion that “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” As such, Nikola declared that it “will never be okay with 24th place.”
While it is nice getting in top 25, our company belief is that "If you ain't first you're last". Thank you Ricky Bobby, we agree. Nikola will never be ok with 24th place. Our only goal is #emissionsgameover https://t.co/x9Mwz6Nvvy
— Nikola Motor Company (@nikolamotor) December 17, 2018
For now, Tesla continues to test the Semi on US roads, with the company’s prototypes being sighted across several states. Just recently, even the matte black Tesla Semi prototype, which has remained unseen for months, was sighted charging in the Kettleman City Supercharger. Nikola, for its part, is preparing to hold its most ambitious event this coming April, where it is set to unveil its new hydrogen-electric trucks.