This site has written a few dozen articles on the Tesla Semi truck and other electric trucks and there has been criticism from many commenters who say how the Tesla electric semi will not work for them as experienced truckers.
Long haul truckers driving 800+ miles a day going all of over the US for loads will not be using the electric semi trucks in the first 2-3 years and maybe not for five years or more.
One of the situations where it does work is like Pepsi. Pepsi has a fleet of about 40,000 trucks. They have bought 100 Tesla Semi electric trucks. They received a $15 million grant from the state of California and they are installing at least four 750-kilowatt chargers. The Pepsi trucks will charge at the Pepsi locations and they will go from specific bottling plants or Frito-Lay plants to nearby cities for delivery. The Tesla trucks will return to the Pepsi factories to recharge and then get more loads.
The existing passenger car charging systems are far slower to charge which would result in four-hour or overnight charging for semi trucks at 150-350 kw Supercharging stations.
Another situation where electric Semi trucks will work is drayage. Instead of moving a heavy container from ship directly to warehouse, drayage corresponds to moving freight from port to truck or port to rail. Typically, it’s a short distance that can be covered in about 1-2 hours, and therefore almost always within the same geographical area.
The US has 4 million class 8 trucks and there are about 250k-300k sold each year. If Tesla hits its goal of selling 50,000 Tesla Semi in 2024 and perhaps 5,000 to 10,000 in 2023, this would be less than 1.5% of all class 8 trucks in the USA. The world has sales of 4 million per year class 8 and large trucks. This means the USA is about 6% of annual Semi truck sales and Europe is 9%, Asia is about 70-80%. China is usually almost half of the large truck sales.
There has been talk of a driver shortage but the current recession is showing an oversupply of trucks and drivers. ACT reported in October 2022 that there is a 15 month wait for new diesel Semi trucks. Truck companies are looking to switch to newer and more fuel-efficient diesel trucks. The 9 mpg Freightliner trucks have the best diesel mileage. The Tesla Semi is providing the equivalent of over 20 mpge.
Why are trucking companies going through the long waits for more fuel-efficient new trucks? Older trucks are getting 5-6 mpg which increases fuel costs by 50% and older trucks have far higher maintenance costs. Small companies with older trucks would be limited to going between or working in low fuel costs states.
The long wait for new class 8 diesel trucks had operators mix in new class 6 trucks with less capacity. The Tesla Semi will have higher equivalent fuel efficiency and as much capacity as needed for 60% of the loads.
If an operator has a fleet of trucks then they can match up trucks to the right loads. This can also mean mixing in class 6 trucks that have a maximum load capacity of 26,000 pounds versus 44,000-50,000 lbs for the most powerful class 8 trucks. I have proved by analyzing the size of the eleven concrete barriers that Tesla moved 45000 lbs on the Tesla Semi and drove it 500 miles on 93% charge. Mixing in ultra-fuel efficient trucks for 60% of the payloads and deliveries is something that is useful.
A dispatcher can look at the loadboard and bid for the loads that match the Tesla Semi capacity. Large companies like Pepsi and Walmart or My Pillow can know they have loads with high volume but less than max weight.
The long wait times for new diesel trucks also means that the low maintenance Tesla Semi with perhaps 60,000 trucks available from 2023 through 2024 will be an attractive option for companies seeing longer wait times but having a need for new efficient class 8 (or 90% of the max weight capacity) trucks.
Onsite Megapack and Solar Supporting 7 [SEVEN Truck Scenario] Tesla Semis
One megapack every 6 to 10 Tesla Semis. Megapacks do not need to be replaced every 10 years.
Megapacks have 30-50% discounts with Inflation Reduction Act and other subsidies. Solar also 30+% tax incentives. Using Megapacks and solar then all of the energy can be prepaid. Instead of $2.1M for the pack it can be only $1.1M-$1.4M after incentives. The $1M of solar for a megawatt is $650k after incentives. $2M and the energy is free if the payments were in cash. 7 trucks. Instead of $130k per year it would be zero. If the trucks were $250k less $40k IRA incentive. $1.47M for the trucks plus $2M for the megapack and solar.
$3.5M for 7 Tesla Semi, a Megapack and a megawatt of solar.
7 diesel trucks at $70k per year each for 100k miles each. For 7 trucks that is $490k/year in fuel. After 10 years that is $4.9M for the fuel. Plus you had to buy the diesel trucks at $130-150k each. This is $800k for 7 trucks. $5.7M diesel vs $3.5M Tesla semi with megapack and solar.
The Tesla Semi will have improving range and a Megapack charging network will be built. The Megapack charging network and new electric truck stops will take 10-20 years to build out. The initial electric truck fleets will be matched up with a lot of onsite Megacharging. Electric trucks will only be purchased in locations where Megacharging gets built. This is similar to the rollout of electric cars. Electric cars are about 12% of new vehicles purchases globally but are about 2% of the total vehicles on the road. The Tesla charging network is sufficient for Tesla drivers to go around the USA. The charging network is being increased to match the number of vehicles that are sold. Most electric car and Tesla owners have a home charging system.
The Tesla Semi only needs to match up with 2% of the situations for the first two years and 10% in the first 4 years and 30% in the first 6-8 years to achieve very successful goals.
The Tesla Cybertrucks will be addressing the consumer, light truck, and medium truck markets. The Cybertrucks will also have a demand for mega charging. If there are a total of million Tesla Cybertrucks in the next three years then this would be equal to 200k Tesla Semi.
California has mandated that 30% of new Semi trucks are electric by 2030. California truck mandates mean 100k electric Semi trucks by 2030 and 300,000 by 2035. NOTE: Fuel cell trucks will also count but I am not expecting high volumes of fuel cell trucks.
California requires 35 percent ZEV sales by 2026, 68 percent by 2030, and 100 percent by 2035 – provide our roadmap to reducing dangerous carbon emissions and moving away from fossil fuels
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.