Answering Electric Semi Truck Critics

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.

BREAKING NEWS Jan 24, 2023 Nevada Governor announces Tesla will build a new $3.5 billion Semi Truck Factory.

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.

Future

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

29 thoughts on “Answering Electric Semi Truck Critics”

  1. Brian, you stated the semi fuel cost at 100,000 miles per year would be $490,000 ! Diesel at $5.00 a gallon, semi getting 5 mpg would be $100,000 a year. The freightliner at 9 mpg would be something like $55,000 a year.

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    • I think to get the networking place for electric trucks major truck stops should put in either diesel generators or natural gas generators for these megawatt charging stations. The network is there for fuel distribution, they also become backup generators for the power grid.

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  2. So funny, NBF has become a car sales pitch website.

    Anyone can use a battery operated chainsaw vs. gasoline powered, let us know what your scientific experiment results would be. The supposed solutions, at this point in time, would fill a niche of a niche. But, every change does start with a first step, or roll.

    The energy density of the batteries needs to be two orders of degree better than what is currently available. But that has happened over the last few decades (40 years) with battery powered tools, they are orders of degrees better than they used to be.

    Light use, rolling vehicles is the best case scenario for EV transport. And it struggles to get a wheel hold with significant subsidies in an ideologically possessed environment where it is demanded by decree.

    OTOH, if a revolutionary battery tech is developed, existing battery packs could be retrofitted with the new, and then that would be something worthwhile. The chassis and motor stay the same, less weight, more load, longer mileage. Win/win/win.
    With the charging rate and subsequent infrastructure, as goat guy wrote about a few years ago, swap-able battery packs will likely be a necessity even with the vastly improved battery tech. Maybe a version of microwave charging. Stand back everyone.

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    • I think to get the networking place for electric trucks major truck stops should put in either diesel generators or natural gas generators for these megawatt charging stations. The network is there for fuel distribution, they also become backup generators for the power grid.

      Reply
    • I think to get the networking place for electric trucks, major truck stops should put in either diesel generators or natural gas generators for these megawatt charging stations. The network is there for fuel distribution, they also become backup generators for the power grid.

      Reply
  3. The writer of this article is biases towards Tesla. He has no clue what a trucking company pays or how it operates. He talk to a so called trucking professional who is jaded and got his information from him. I have seen purchase orders on semi trucks as low as $70k on 2020 Semi trucks. It depends on the quantity of semi trucks they are buying. Swift and UPS is get OTR trucks lower than that, they are close to $60k per truck. The more you buy the more you save.

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    • You obviously haven’t been in the truck market recently. No one is buying a new semi for $60k or even 70. Wait times are through the roof and pricing to match. Manufacturing literally has no build slots and new pricing is on hold waiting for the new mandates that are expected to push the price up another $10k. And that comes straight from a major truck leasing company who is buying thousands per year. Used semis are going at auction for $60k or better.

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  4. And what people are not talking about is after the warranty is up , and the batteries are toast , now you have a fortune to fix. Look at all electric cars , pickups, once the battery dies $20,000 plus is more then the vehicle is worth. Total loss !!! Then your resale value on a vehicle with low battery life totally worthless again . Today’s semi trucks you can overhaul the engine yourself for $6000 or pay someone a total of $12,000 . So how much will the truck batteries be ? It’s just not a good value for a 20 year owner operator like myself, this would put me out of business.

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    • When they last spoke about it in 2017. Tesla indicated they would warranty the Semi batteries for 1 million miles. The 150k mile warranty for their other cars talk about having at least 70% charge and range. Tesla has a battery warranty for the Semi and will have an extended warranty. Certainty on the batteries can be had.

      Under normal expected degradation, you should assume maintaining 70-80% of starting range over the first 1 million miles. 530 miles max range goes to 370-420 miles.

      In 2017, Tesla was offering the 300 mile range truck for $150k and the 500 mile for $180k. The degraded range 500 mile is still more than the 300 mile version and more than the peak range of any competing electric semi. Only buy it if your usage is for 350-400 mile range situations.

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      • Usually high number of charge cycles is achieved when limiting the maximal charge under 80% and avoiding draining the battery below 20% and most importantly slow charging rates.
        This means that to even get close to your 1M miles the Tesla Semi range must be prelimited to 300 miles and the charging time 20% to 80% to 12hours.
        Although even after carefully keeping thus rules the chance of reaching 1M miles is slim, even 500K will be a big success.

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    • How long do you think that battery will last?
      If the buyer gets a truck with 500 mile range but is running the truck 300 miles a day that battery can last 5500 cycles. That’s 5500 complete charges so around 6500 70% charges. That’s almost 20byears before the battery degrades to 70% original capacity… at 70% that battery still holds over 600kw and has a LOT of value as grid tied storage. 20 years from know the batteries we have now will look like toys. They already are working on batteries with 4x the density, 10 minute charges and almost unlimited recharges.
      The 1st cars on the road were laughter at by guys on horses. How you gonna fix it? How you gonna fuel it? It’s slow and can’t go where my horse goes… I don’t see a lot of people still commuting by horse.
      Stop thinking revolution (fast change) and start thinking evolution (slow change) and maybe you will understand

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  5. My heart goes & bleeds out for all those poor Congolese and their minor children who have to work & wade through dangerous mines harder than their descendants did just to fulfil this western “climate” motive of going green.. Lord Jesus protect us africa

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    • As opposed to the thousands that died every year mining coal? Millions that die every year from fossil fuel air pollution? Particulates in every breath that everyone takes. In the most polluted cities in China and India and Iran it is like smoking 6 cigarettes per day. Every baby, asthmatic and old person forced to smoke particulates. The not going green approach. In a coal mine collapse in China, one person dug his way out by hand after drinking his own urine to survive. They don’t tell you but others trapped in mine collapses also survive for days and most fail in similarly difficult attempts to survive. In Africa, there have been multiple incidents where 100-200 people have died when an oil truck overturned and they tried to scoop up the oil. The oil then caught fire and they burned alive. But lets pretend the cobalt mines are anywhere near the scale to the World War levels of annual death from fossil fuel and the insane levels of suffering that goes with it.

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      • The issue is though that it’s the mining practices that are hurting people. Going green is full of falsehood that only look at certain parts, EV for example the mad rush to min lithium and other such materials used in production of them are vastly damaging to our plant, the extra electricity to run so called green products or systems HAS YET to be explained by anyone including you. I am not opposed to changing how we do things and being more sustainable but putting our global culture in crisis causing deliberate food and energy shortages risking human life for the sake of highly profitable green projects that most refuse to provide all info on carbon and climate foot print start to finish is asking to be put into global war and suffering. Are the one who created bioeconomics and coined the phrase I found rather interesting that both government industry and media alike did everything they could to hinder people getting to understand it and even know it exists as it puts life human and other wise in priority over profit but still provide profit while airing in the evolution of humanity,but of course when your part of the privileged or the wealthy why would you ever want humanity to evolve past the need for greed , power and control of the Populus.

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  6. First of all if a truck driver is driving 800 miles a day they are not going to be able to drive much longer. Because they’re speeding. Yes I realize there are some states where the speed limit is 80 mph but it’s hard to drive for 10 hours in one state at 80 mph. Secondly you’re not addressing the elephant in the room. No one has ever addressed this issue about how much does the tractor weigh by itself. Can you please answer that, somebody, anybody?

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    • I know, their asinine secrecy is ludicrous.
      All Tesla has to do is bobtail one of their tractors to any truck stop with a certified scale, pay the $12 to $15 and publish the scale ticket. (I guess ol’ Elon can’t afford the $12 after blowing billions on Twitter.)
      I’ve read that the Volvo VNR electric tractor weighs in at 24,500 pounds, of which 7,200 pounds is the 540 kWh battery system. The diesel version (same wheelbase, cab configuration, horsepower, etc.) weighs 16,000 pounds.
      Ouch.
      Tesla admitted in the 3Q ’22 call that the semi is using the same battery cells as the cars – and not the newest generation cell, either.
      So a 100 kWh Tesla car battery weighs around 1,300 pounds … Wouldn’t a 900 kWh battery using the exact same cells weigh around 11,700 pounds +/-?

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  7. My concern on these electric semi trucks is the weather and how they hold up in traffic jams and accidents. What happens when these trucks get stuck in snow storms what then .

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    • They do amazing in traffic since they don’t idle, weather has an impact but that’s being addressed with next gen batteries.
      There are also battery warming systems for sub 0 climate

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  8. Seems your hyperthetical test does not match real world traffic and roads conditions, as of today in Europe it was dearer to charge a electric car than it was to fill up with diesel.
    Seems the ev mold is falling over and 15 million of tax payers money just goes to show it is not viable

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  9. Normally the argument against that is twofold

    1. Idiot forklift drivers jostling removable packs are a safety hazard, but the alternative of fixed site automated replacement isn’t that great an improvement.

    2. Truck length vs maneuverability. It would be easier to replace a pack if the pack was in an easier shape and space between the front and rear wheels, but that increases length which hampers tight turning with a trailer. Not that a long truck isn’t normal (big old kenworths’ as a long as a bus are still commonplace), but tight steering with conventional steering systems means a long wheelbase isn’t an all-rounder vehicle.

    Though I do wonder, why haven’t there been renewed efforts to design a skateboard frame truck with all wheel steering based on the propulsive units in a SPMT? If a cross-vehicle axle isn’t an absolute requirement, why not have individually steerable doublewheel units?

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      • You can’t just come up with a vague statement like that.
        What agenda are you talking about that would not work with swappable batteries?
        You make it sound like it’s some nefarious agenda, but such a conspiracy would benefit from pushing people towards only being able to swap batteries at centrally controlled locations, and not recharge with a simple wall plug.

        Reply

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