Tesla undoubtedly is one of the most influential firms of our time. Its prowess and footprint in the electric car market are increasing day by day. But, its most significant innovation yet was unveiled very recently with Tesla’s electric semi-truck.
Debuted with much fanfare and drama by none other than the firm’s quirky CEO Elon Musk, who drove the truck to the podium himself, the electric semi truck looked highly futuristic. In fact, for a specific time, it felt that we finally had some sort of an answer to the pressing climate change concerns that have seemed so hard to overturn in time for saving our beleaguered Earth from utter destruction and mayhem.
However, despite all the fanfare and good press, Tesla’s electric semi-truck has received up till now, the most pressing concerns about it have yet to have been acknowledged.
Tesla’s Electric Semi-Truck Will Provide Massive Fuel Savings
Tesla’s electric semi-truck has an impressive range of 500 miles on a single charge. It will provide savings on fuel on a gargantuan scale, and above all, it’s going to be environmentally friendly due to its dependence on electricity. The vehicle will also be safer, due to its partial autonomous driving capabilities. What more can someone ask for from a revolutionary truck of the future?
Like all products in the B2B sector, it’s not about the product itself, but how it’s going to affect the industry it’s going be used in. The focus has so much been on the truck that people from the logistics industry have failed to realize as to how this vehicle is going to affect their business and profitability in the years to come and in this, lies immense cause for concern.
How Will It Affect Last Mile Logistics?
The electric truck has been touted as the last mile favorite, ahead of potential game changers like autonomous drone delivery systems, but that’s a very shallow and abrupt analysis of the capabilities of this truck.
The logistics industry has, up till now, relied on conventional trucks, which don’t have restrictions on how much they can travel or require a specialized refueling infrastructure to move conveniently.
Class 8 orders have been on the rise this year as compared to the previous year, and apparently, buying a truck is not a short-term plan for any trucking firm.
Electric trucks can’t top these two, top concerns, no matter how much they try. The current levels of technology have not advanced to a level yet where they can answer these concerns in a meaningful way.
For being touted as the last mile star performer in the next decade, Tesla’s semi would have to be highly reliable and durable, as short-haul trucks should be. But, having said that, Tesla doesn’t have an outstanding track record when it comes down to quality control.
They have had problems with their reputation in this regard in the past, and that was within the domain of cars, a smaller domain as compared to a critical decision of buying a truck. Logistics companies need to move ahead with caution and try to look beyond the “futuristic feel” of this vehicle.
Are the Savings Worth the Investment?
Time and cost are critical in the logistics industry. You can quickly get a good condition class 8 truck in the cost range of $100,000-$130,000. However, the Tesla semi is a whole different case when it comes to acquisition cost.
The batteries on this truck are prohibitively expensive, almost costing $100,000, and on top of that, add the cost of the truck itself, and you arrive at a figure of around $250,000-$300,000. That’s about three times the cost of a conventional rig and on a purchase that has limited competencies regarding range and fuelling capabilities. Tesla needs to put more on the table other than its “electric” capabilities to entice customers to actually buy its newest product in good numbers.
And on top of that, the batteries that will power the electric truck will be less energy dense and hence more massive, with just 5000 cycles of recharges available.
According to industry competitors of Tesla, this ‘stationary load” will be an unwelcome addition to the truck. And it doesn’t end here. Total gas stations number at around 168,000, while Tesla Supercharger stations that carry faster-charging capabilities stand at a disappointing figure of just 2172 stations in the U.S. That’s some distance to go before Tesla can provide refueling infrastructure comparable to the existing one in place. No trucker would like to wait in long queues to recharge his/her truck and recharging process itself takes a significant amount of time as compared to conventional diesel refueling.
And not just the logistics industry, other related industries like the moving industry won’t be willing to accept electric trucks right away, The latest corporate relocation trends show that, people always move from state to state, a move which requires conventional trucks that can travel longer distances.
No electric truck is ready to replace conventional lorries in realms like these, so the idea for logistics and similar firms to include both types of vehicles in their fleets seems unfeasible at best.
Why would you opt for a truck with limited capabilities when your existing one does the work just fine and is still available at a lower cost than the one you are trying to acquire?
Tesla’s truck looked terrific, and nearly everyone got impressed by its design, but there is a vast and unprecedented difference between how a thing looks and how well it performs the actual functions it’s built for. The flashiness still doesn’t overshadow the more vital performance parameters required for groundbreaking success.
Tesla is trying to revolutionize a whole industry with a half-sized tool, which is not a good idea indeed. Shortly, we will see these electric semis, but they will probably be owned by large firms like Pepsi or UPS, who have the financial muscle to experiment with such additions in their fleets.
These trucks might be great for giving your firm an overall environmental friendly image, but as far as performance goes, the electric semi is still in its nascent stages with a long, long journey to finally reach its destination. Tesla will probably improve its battery capabilities, but it won’t be good enough to replace conventional trucks any time in the near future.