Can Tesla’s Semi Change the Face of Commercial Trucking?

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk has introduced the company’s new electric Semi truck that has the capacity to travel 500 miles between charges. The success of Tesla’s Semi could compel the trucking industry to switch from diesel to electric trucks, spurring a change in the landscape, as charging stations would become a necessity and the potential for driverless vehicles becomes more of a possibility.

Musk’s latest innovation has the opportunity to change the face of commercial trucking as we know it. For better or for worse.

What Does Tesla’s Semi Mean for Truckers?

With the release of Tesla’s Semi, the company becomes poised to compete with Class 8 trucks, Paccar, Volvo, and Daimler in the electrification game. Reducing fuel costs is one of the many ways in which Tesla’s Semi could change the commercial trucking industry. Another is the art of “plantooning,” which essentially means linking more than one Semi together to offer more benefits to the customer. But how does this affect the trucker? Monumentally, of course.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that 1.4 million Americans make their living as truckers. When drivers are no longer needed (because of plantooning or automation, electrification or outsourcing), jobs are no longer needed either. The positive spin on this suggestion is that automation is expensive so if electric self-driving trucks are the wave of the future, that wave may not come for many more years down the road. The trucking industry will learn more as Musk reveals additional facets of Tesla’s Semi operation.

Charging Stations, Rules and Regulations

Supply and demand go hand-in-hand and nowhere is that more apparent than on the road. Thus, as more electric cars and trucks hit the pavement for distribution centers and retailers, there is an increased need for additional electric charging stations.

Building charging stations across the nation (and the world, potentially) will lead to an increase in employment across state lines. And what about security? Can hackers make their way into the automated system and take over the road? Anything is possible, but what is fact is the increased need for regulation assessment to prevent these unfavorable outcomes.

Investing in the Future

PepsiCo has already pre-purchased 100 units of Tesla’s Semi. This pre-purchase deal was a giant show of confidence in the future of Tesla’s commercial trucking endeavor. To put this deal into perspective, PepsiCo released a revenue report of over $66 billion in 2014. The brand is the parent company to Tropicana, Lay’s, Stacy’s, Sun Chips, Doritos, Ruffles, Quaker, Cheetos, and more.

PepsiCo is making plans to supplement its current fleet of 10,000 with Tesla’s Semi in order to ship its products to distributors and retailers at a fraction of environmental expenditure. Tesla’s Semi could aid in this goal by slashing environmental impact more than 20 percent by 2030. This buy in from PepsiCo is a major investment in the future of Tesla’s Semi.

An investment in Tesla’s Semi is also an investment in reducing the trucking industry’s reliance on diesel. Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to require heavy trucks (such as buses, tractor-trailers, garbage trucks, and semis) to make a huge leap – increasing their fuel economy by up to 40 percent by 2027. Tesla’s Semi could usher in a sizeable change for the future of truckers and their involvement in affecting global environmental impact.

Tesla’s Semi will be more thoroughly revealed in September, but for now: one can only imagine the musings of Musk and his automatic ideas and inventions.

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