The Semi, Tesla’s all-electric battery-powered semi-truck, has finally started shipping with PepsiCo adding the first 100 trucks to their fleet. The all-electric semi-trailer is one of the first of its kind, and may have a large impact into the future of the trucking industry with it offering reduced emissions, autonomous technology, and of course alternative fuel options that could save workers thousands of dollars annually.
Though it may have had a slow start, Tesla’s Semi is really shaping up to make a big impact on the industry, and could even lead the way in electric trucks becoming the future of car hauling. Here are the biggest ways that Semi may be paving the way for its own success and for the future of the industry as a whole.
Those who have been following news related to the Tesla Semi are aware of the vehicle’s slow production – initially planned to start in 2019 with 100,000 trucks per year by 2022, the production was delayed until October 2022. This delay was due to the battery shortage, with Tesla prioritizing the production of passenger vehicles over Semis.
But after several delays, the Semi has finally been released – but only on a very limited scale this year. It seems that Tesla will be ramping up production next year, with the company greatly increasing the number of units in time for next year. This slow roll out is entirely expected, due to the lithium-ion battery shortage and semiconductor chip shortages that have been ongoing.
This limited release isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. As industry workers are well aware, vehicle production issues have been across the entire automotive industry, and is a problem that is being addressed slowly but surely. In fact, this slow roll out of units may be a better move on Tesla’s part, as it’s allowed for demand to build – the Semi has had unit reservations going as far back as 2017, which indicates that the demand for it is quite high.
It’s no secret that commercial trucks cost a lot to operate and maintain, with fueling costs sometimes costing upwards of $70,000 on an annual basis. In 2021, it was estimated that the average owner-operator spent 48 cents per mile, with the number varying depending on weight.
Understandably, one of the biggest selling points of the Semi is its alternative fueling, with electric charging costing significantly less. The truck costs less than 2 kWh per mile, or to put things into perspective, a 200 mile-trip with a Tesla Semi costs about $28, while a diesel truck costs $169.76 comparatively. This pricing difference is astounding, as it could allow for drivers to save literally thousands of dollars in fueling costs every month, which could make the difference between a successful business and failure.
If all-electric vehicles became regularly available to truckers, then it would be a game changer for many. Especially with fueling costs being particularly high this past year, accounting for drastic changes in the cost of fuel makes car hauling a rough business to be involved in lately.
Of course, one of the other key features of the Semi is its autopilot mode, which would allow for drivers to take their hand off the wheel and for the truck to drive itself almost entirely while on the road. This tech has been used in Tesla’s vehicles for years now, but has never before been utilized for semi-trucks. This would be revolutionary for truckers, as it would help truck drivers to save energy and be capable of working longer hours with fewer risks of making mistakes on the road. Over time, it will be interesting to see whether this technology becomes popular among truck drivers or not, as autonomous cars have become somewhat of a controversial topic lately.
Semi Trucks have always been more on the expensive side, with higher-end units costing upwards of $200,000. So with the Semi starting at a very reasonable price of $150,000, it seems certain that the model is destined to be a hit with trucking companies. The Semi will launch at two price tiers, with the aforementioned $150,000 unit having a 300 mile-range, and a 500 mile-range unit costing $180,000. Combined with far cheaper fuel costs, the Semi doesn’t seem all that expensive, when compared to ICE semi-trucks.
Two of the biggest fears surrounding electric vehicles are high costs and range anxiety, and the Semi seems to solve both of those fears. When units begin rolling out in higher quantities to the public, it seems almost certain that their affordability and efficiency will catch on, and may end up moving the trucking industry closer towards an all-electric future.
Overall, the release of Tesla’s Semi may be a huge game-changer for both Tesla and the trucking industry as a whole, with only time telling exactly what sort of impact it will have.
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