Major shippers like Wal-Mart and shipping company J.B. Hunt are ordering Tesla’s recently showcased new semi truck. The Wall Street Journal reports the truck will run up to 500 miles on a single charge. Jennifer Smith writes:
The Semi is designed to run up to 500 miles on a single charge, and incorporates Tesla’s semiautonomous driving system, which the company said could allow big rigs to travel in autonomous convoys with other of its trucks. The company did not provide a sticker price, but said the truck would be cheaper to operate than diesel rivals and could potentially cost less than transport by rail.
Wal-Mart has preordered five units for the U.S. and 10 for its Canadian division, and sees potential for the trucks to help meet company targets for lower emissions, a spokesman said Friday. The order was reported earlier by CNBC.
The company has one of the largest private fleets in the U.S., with some 6,000 trucks. Wal-Mart has tested other new vehicle technology, including diesel-electric hybrid trucks and some that run on liquefied natural gas or other alternative fuels.
J.B. Hunt, a leading U.S. carrier, said Friday it “placed a reservation to purchase multiple Tesla Semi tractors,” but declined to specify how many units it ordered. The vehicles will support West Coast operations of J.B. Hunt’s intermodal unit, where freight is moved long distance by road and rail, and its dedicated contract division, which provides trucking services for companies that have outsourced their private fleet operations.
The electric vehicles will be most useful on local routes, J.B. Hunt Chief Executive John Roberts said in a statement.
The Semi’s 500-mile range on a single charge exceeds what some analysts had expected but could still limit its use on long-haul routes, at least until a nationwide network of charging stations is built. The battery’s weight could also be an issue, as heavier trucks can carry less freight. “As presented it is hard to argue that the Tesla semi … can do anything a diesel truck can do,” Bernstein analysts said in a research note.
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