There has been a lot of hype and excitement around the growing fleet of passenger vehicles manufactured by Tesla, Elon Musk’s automobile company focused on all-electric vehicles. Now, Musk is planning to expand beyond the passenger demographic and into commercial/industrial markets with the development of the Tesla Semi. Tentatively scheduled to be unveiled on October 26 of this year, the Semi could change the way the trucking industry does business, from reduced fuel costs to autonomous fleets and everything in between. Such a transition wouldn’t be seamless, however. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of introducing electric vehicles to the trucking industry.
Pros of the Electric Trucks
- No Emissions – The first and most obvious benefit, electric trucks would help companies stay in compliance with regulations for carbon emissions and the push for zero-emission vehicles.
- Stronger Engines – Tesla leadership has said their electric drivetrains will perform better than diesel, with better torque and lower maintenance and insurance costs.
- Autonomous Fleets – Many analysts expect that Tesla will attempt to carry over their autonomous vehicle technology from passenger vehicles. Implementation of this could further optimize driving routes to avoid slowdowns and prevent user error from exhaustion.
- Reduced Costs for Trucking Companies – With the possibility of autonomous fleets of vehicles comes the reduction in human resource costs for trucking companies. This could allow companies to better allocate their workers to longer, more complex routes while leaving smaller, regional routes to the self-driving fleets.
Cons of Electric Trucks
- Distance – The majority of trucking routes are hundreds of miles long, passing through parts of the country that haven’t caught up with the rise of electric vehicles. With fewer places to charge a battery, routes would need to be optimized to the detail in order to prevent trucks from shutting down on the side of the road.
- Expensive Batteries – A passenger vehicle battery has to power a car that’s relatively lightweight, even with passengers and items in tow. How would that extrapolate to a massively heavy truck carrying tons of goods? Batteries for such trucks wouldn’t come cheap, and would likely cost more than a current diesel truck.
- Weight Limitations – Electric batteries are predominantly heavier than diesel internal combustion engines. Federal regulations have weight limits on trucks, which would mean Tesla would have to alter shipping routes or numbers of trucks to support larger shipment weights.
Tesla’s emergence in the industrial vehicle market is still a ways off, with upwards of two years being required to meet demand and scale as well as testing and implementation alongside existing diesel fleets. Nevertheless, the prospect is an ambitious and potentially game-changing approach to reducing our carbon footprint. What do you think about Tesla’s announcement of an electric semi-truck? Let us know in the comments below.