Commercial truck driving is going through a period of change, and one that may alter it like nothing that has ever come before.
Diesel is as common to truckers as tight deadlines and winding roads. But the long-time favorite fuel source of commercial operators may be bumped from its top spot soon, as electric trucks are quickly becoming a reality in the mainstream market.
Vehicles that run (at least partially) off batteries have been popular in prototype test-runs and trucking conventions for years. Though they’ve been popping up in one form or another for some time now, a fully-functional electric semi was just announced by Tesla. The unveiling in Hawthorne, California had investors and spectators watching closely.
Trucking has faced uphill battles in the wake of the green movement. Large trucks are some of the biggest sources of fossil fuel emissions in the world. Despite the efforts of the industry to cut back on this issue, it seems only a largescale technological overhaul can deliver the long-term results sought in this case.
The truck won’t be out until 2019, but the early showing was a wise move. Orders have already been pouring in, with big names like Walmart already excited to add the new vehicles to their fleets.
Companies like J.B. Hunt Transport Services, a leading logistics and freight delivery service, have also made reservations to buy these trucks. Retailers, grocery chains, and many other companies were keeping a close eye on Tesla’s progress with their newest creation.
Given that it could be the world’s first mainstream alternative-fuel commercial vehicle, this creation could be Tesla’s biggest announcement yet. Particularly for the trucking industry, it could mean changing the way business is done in some regards.
Fuel surcharges and gas taxes are a big factor in trucking, as they influence the financial decisions of carriers and also contribute to the funding of infrastructure. Electric trucks could also change the game for logistics managers, as they’d have to refine the way they go about constructing routes to accommodate the new equipment.
A good charge length is vital for these trucks, and charge stations are expected to become more common as electric trucks become mainstream. Since short-term trips may be the only ones possible in the young market, local routes are expected to benefit the most from Tesla’s new electric semi.
This isn’t the first time Tesla has made waves in the transportation industry. Their purchase of Solar City raised talks of vehicles being equipped with solar panels to provide charging during travel. For commercial trucks, especially those with large trailers, this would be a promising idea.
Other big names like Uber have gotten involved in the freight industry as well. Despite finding their main success in ride sharing and corporate travel, their Uber for Trucking app seeks to bring the same type of decentralized convenience to trucking that the company brought to public transportation.
Tesla remains one of the biggest companies to watch in trucking, with large carriers, smaller companies, and owner-operators all poised to benefit from the new electric semi.