Wall Street analyst Alex Potter of Piper Jaffray remains optimistic on the Tesla Semi, despite receiving pushback from skeptics that question the long range and economic feasibility of an all-electric hauler. One might recall that Potter downgraded major truck stocks after the Silicon Valley-based electric carmaker announced that it would reveal its Tesla Semi truck this September.
Non-believers who don’t share the same vision as Potter see battery weight and capacity as being the main drawback of a Tesla Semi over the traditional diesel semi-truck that’s capable of more than double the range, and at a cheaper cost. Still, Potter defends his position, citing any increased weight of a battery pack will be offset by the reduction of weight from the electric drivetrain. Potter believes that any weight impact will be negligible and at most add up to 4,000 pounds (1,814 kg). Relative to the 80,000 pound max-payload capacity of a semi-truck, the increased weight is rather small.
“We think there is a misperception that fleets obsess over vehicle weight,” he wrote. “Most fleets run out of space in their trailers long before they approach the 80,000-pound threshold.” reports Barron’s.
Potter believes Tesla’s niche will be in the medium-range fleet that travels anywhere between 300-600 miles (482 – 965 km), as opposed to the long-haul fleet that can travel as far as 1,600 miles (2,575 km) using supplementary diesel tanks. “Some fleets that run fixed/visible routes can happily function with only 50-100 gallons of on-board diesel (300-600 miles of range),” says Potter in his note through Piper Jaffray. “If Tesla focuses on medium- to long-haul fleets like this, we think the payback will be compelling.”
The Tesla Semi Program is managed by Tesla veteran Jerome Guillen who was previously General Manager of New Product development at Freightliner, an American truck manufacturer best know for its heavy duty class 8 diesel trucks. “Jerome is driving the Tesla Semi & and is doing a great job with his team. At Daimler he lead the most successful semi truck program ever.” Tesla chief Elon Musk last year.
Musk recently revealed at TED2017 that the Tesla Semi will utilize several components and the electric motor from the Model 3. Sharing components gives Tesla the advantage of bringing its electric truck to market relatively quickly, and as early as 2019 or 2020.