Can Tesla Change the Face of Trucking in North America in 2018?

The name Tesla is synonymous with innovation and luxury. Tesla is now bringing that well-known penchant for style and efficiency into the world of trucking. The aptly named Semi is set to start production in 2019.

The world, apparently, is very excited to welcome this new Tesla battery-powered semi-truck. Already, pre-orders for the Tesla Semi have come in from Walmart, UPS, PepsiCo, and Anheuser Busch. Tesla and trucking industry standards are set to collide; the Semi is both fuel efficient and low on emissions.

The final price on the Tesla Semi has not yet been determined, but experts believe it will hover around $150,000. Companies who pre-ordered Tesla’s Semi were required to place a $20,000 deposit on each truck ordered. In 2018, what Tesla trucking in North America will look like, is the question on everyone’s mind.

Impact to the Industry and on Tesla’s Brand

Tesla and the transportation industry infrastructure are currently at odds. The highway system is simply not yet equipped to provide charging stations for Tesla’s electric trucks.

JB Hunt has said that the rigs are best suited for local hauling. Additionally, Jerry Hirsch of believes the Semi would be ideal for use on the California coast. The distribution centers and ports are generally located there within a 250-mile distance from end to end.

Meijer, a grocery chain, has stated that the trucks will help them lower their carbon footprint. This sentiment has been echoed by Walmart and others. Fuel costs were another reason customers cited for reserving the Tesla Semi.

Elon Musk claims that the Tesla Semi can travel 500 miles before needing to be recharged. Critics argue, however, that diesel trucks can go much further. They also add that conventional trucks don’t require a lengthy charging process, diesel stations are more plentiful.

Nevertheless, Tesla’s new technology is making waves in the automotive industry. It is aerodynamic, sleek, and stylish, and the driver will sit in the center of the cab. Truck manufacturers are now considering possibilities previously unseen.

Overall, the introduction of Semi has been good for the Tesla brand. The company stock finished 50% higher on Wall Street at the end of 2017 compared to the start of the year. Still, it is currently sitting at about 20% below their record high.

Tesla’s foray into the trucking market has made other manufacturers face an uncomfortable truth. Automakers have forged ahead into green technologies, and the trucking industry has lagged behind. The readiness of the market to embrace Tesla’s mission of cleaner truck emissions, is highly likely to bolster a new age in trucking.

Pros and Cons of the Semi

The Tesla Semi is not without its problems, however. Tesla is paving a new frontier without a ready market for electric trucks. Also, the batteries are heavy, reducing the all-important total load capacity.

Still, an important consideration for today’s consumer is the environment. Trucks are estimated to be responsible for a full 20% of the planet’s greenhouse gases. This is significant, as they comprise only 5% of vehicles on the road.

The world of trucking is currently an industry worth $726 billion. It moves slowly, and Tesla is uninhibited by traditional business models. GM – for example – has had to spend time rebuilding their stock price from their former glory.

Changes to the Trucking Industry

According to Martin Tiller of, electric motors are going to take hold on the trucking industry. Autonomous trucks are another innovation he expects to see replicated in trucking. He also believes that Tesla has paved the way to reduce fuel costs and to save money by eliminating drivers.

Paccar, Daimler, Cummins, and Volvo have already been working to develop substitutes for diesel-burning trucks. Toyota-Kenworth is working on hydrogen fuel cell technology, in addition to other solutions.

70% of the US freight market is moved via big rigs, and so the stakes couldn’t be higher. All eyes are on Tesla right now to see how this plays out. By joining the trucking game, it appears Tesla has already shaken things up.

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