December 11, 2017
Anheuser-Busch Bets Big on Tesla
Not that long ago, Tesla announced plans to build the biggest fully electric vehicles yet on the market: tractor trailers. Now, before the first one is even on the assembly line, the company has its first fleet order. International brewer Anheuser-Busch recently ordered 40 electric semis in an effort, the company says, to reduce carbon emissions by 30% in the coming years. Speaking to CNN, James Sembrot, A-B’s head of logistics, said, “At Anheuser-Busch, we are constantly seeking new ways to make our supply chain more sustainable, efficient, and innovative… This investment in Tesla semi-trucks helps us achieve these goals while improving road safety and lowering our environmental impact.”
But Anheuser-Busch is not the only brand to place a big order for the electric semis. Walmart recently ordered 15, and JB Hunt plans to order some as well. According to reports, the fully electric semis require a $20,000 deposit and come at a base price of $150,000. On a fully-charged battery, the trucks are said to have a 300-mile range. The more expensive version could travel up to 500 miles on a single charge, and both of these range estimates are while carrying a full load. Tesla claims buyers will save so much on fuel they will pay for the entire price of the truck in as little as two years. The current driving ranges are still long outpaced by the current diesel fuel technology, so most market watchers expect the electric semis to be used in more local transport. That relative limitation may be offset by the quick acceleration of the trucks, 0 to 60 in about 20 seconds, even with a full load. In addition to the electric engine, the Tesla semis will come equipped with the company’s signature “autopilot” semi-autonomous driving systems, which are meant to assist on long drives.
Another interesting innovation: center drive position. There’s only one seat in the cab, situated in the center, rather than on the left or right of the cab. This innovation allowed designers to build the trucks with a more aerodynamic shape, cutting down on drag and achieving more speed and strength with less power. The orders are just the first step in a major shift in the shipping industry. While fully electric passenger cars are gaining slow ground on gas-powered consumer vehicles, if these commercial fleets are successful, that could signal a seismic shift in the industry in a very short period of time.
One of the biggest knocks against electric consumer cars is the lack of charging stations. If shipping fleets need them, they will be built quickly, erasing this hurdle for consumers. That could put Tesla in the driver’s seat for the next revolution in transportation.