There is an interesting article on the Ars Technica website analyzing recent reports that automaker Tesla is planning to introduce electric-powered semis into the United States market with ranges of up to 300 miles in September. While Tesla itself refuses to confirm or deny, the initial reporting that the company will make this move comes from Reuters, a highly reliable source. Tesla has been talking about building semis as far back as August, 2016.
If Tesla does go ahead with this move, it will likely be a game-changer for the trucking industry. Approximately 80 percent of domestic freight runs are under 500 miles are handled by trucks; anything longer tends to go by water, pipeline or rail. Therefore, the Tesla electric trucks, even with a range under 300 miles, are ideal for many shorter trucking hauls.
Furthermore, especially as the number of electric recharging stations across the country increases, Tesla trucks may work out for even long hauls. Because transportation regulations require truckers to take frequent breaks, they would likely have time to charge their electric vehicles on long runs without losing any time. Additionally, new regulations requiring trucking companies to use electronic reporting devices may force many to plan shorter trips anyway.
Currently, diesel trucks are generally cheaper to repair and maintain than electric ones, but this is predicted to change over time as the industry changes to accommodate electric vehicles. Therefore, shipping companies turning to electric trucks could be considered a long-term investment. Tesla itself will likely shoulder the financial burden of installing charging stations, and this will make the vehicles more attractive to shipping companies.
Essentially, it seems clear that Tesla is making a substantial commitment to entering the trucking industry in a big way. While they face many hurdles in the short term, the company’s long-term prospects in this area are very good.