Back in 2017, Tesla announced a new venture that stirred up massive conversation within the trucking industry: the electric semi-truck. It has been a much slower release than expected, but in December 2022 they did deliver trucks to their first customer, Pepsi Co. In early 2023, Tesla has now unveiled a new factory for their semi-truck manufacturing, set to open in Nevada. Currently they have a Tesla factory in Reno, Nevada. The new one is set to open nearby, also living in the northern part of the state.
Since its announcement, the Tesla Semi has been widely anticipated. It is expected to greatly shift the trucking industry the same way Tesla cars changed the automotive industry.
Companies like Daimler and Volvo, two of the biggest current big-rig truck manufacturers on the market, have been put on the spot to try and develop similar enough mechanisms in order for their vehicles to stand ground against Tesla’s electric power. Both companies have already pledged to develop trucks that emit no tailpipe emissions, but thus far they continue to primarily produce diesel powered trucks, leaving a gap in the industry Tesla is all to happy to fill with their electrically powered trucks.
Alongside the new factory, Tesla is opening a new battery plant in order to meet goals to support their production.
With this, they will be adding at least 3,000 employees to their books, creating a vast opening in the job market. Tesla needs the increased personnel as they are anticipated to begin production on their most advanced batteries yet, as they have to rework the ones they currently produce in order to run a semi-truck’s engine.
With this said, while there are many expectations from this new side of Tesla’s business, there is some division regarding how successful this will actually be. Generally, fleet owners work hard to calculate how cost effective a truck is based on the cost of the truck itself, the price of fuel, how much maintenance will be required, and the amount of driver downtime. With this in mind, the Tesla Semi will definitely cost more than others on the market, given its higher cost of production. Buyers will have to calculate if the higher cost will be worth it for them based on what they will save without having to buy fuel and relying on the electric powered engine.
The Tesla semi-truck is expected to have a range of 500 miles, making it appeal most to drivers who primarily have relatively short routes that they drive. The biggest reason it is not expected to be well suited for very long routes yet is that there is currently no network for charging trucks. In many places in the country, there is a plethora of gas stations, making it easy for trucks to refuel as needed. Because of the lack of charging networks in the country, the electric truck is far more limited in its ability. With the current way charging vehicles is set up, it is expected that the Tesla truck will primarily appeal to drivers who run routes that leave from a depot, so that they can charge it there overnight.
Ultimately, it is extremely hard to predict how the Tesla semi-trucks will affect the trucking industry until they have officially reached the market, which, with the opening of their new factory, may finally be on the horizon.