In late November, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed plans for his new all-electric truck, the aptly named Semi, slated to hit markets in 2019. Though smaller, short-range electric delivery trucks have been in operation for some time, this is one of the first big endeavors into battery-operated long-haul trucking. Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, and Sysco are among the companies to preorder Semis to date.
Tesla aims to attract customers based on its claims of estimated long-term fuel savings as compared to diesel-powered trucks. The truck has self-driving capabilities and maintains a range of 500 miles on one 30 minute charge. The Semi's sleek, modern exterior is coupled with a unique interior design, with a center-mounted driver's seat and screens framing the steering wheel, facilitating navigation and visibility. Appealing to more than just revolutionary technology, Tesla's Semi boasts maximum safety and comfort.
Some critics are concerned about the weight of the Semi, which could potentially limit the carrying ability for long hauls, if the massive battery increases the overall load as expected. Others have pointed out the need for more charging stations across the nation to support this new trend on the horizon for the freight industry. And the truck would demand flexibility and adaptability of current truck drivers, who would need to become comfortable with the changes that Tesla's Semi would initiate.
But the Tesla Semi answers many of the questions posed to the trucking industry, namely the need to reduce emissions on a global scale and the general movement toward more regulation in that area. According to GreenBiz.com, the trucking industry is responsible for almost 6% of all greenhouse gas emissions, and reliance on fuel is a costly business. The enhanced autopilot features included with the Semi could also save lives, as 4,000 Americans die each year in truck-related accidents that might have been prevented with the assistance of self-driving technology. If Tesla is successful in this new venture, they could help bring cost savings, increased safety, and cleaner practices, all welcome improvements to the freight industry, an indispensable segment of the American economy.