Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) has unveiled its new electric semi-truck to the masses during a presentation in Hawthorne, Calif. The company’s Semi will reportedly cost 20 percent less to operate than a standard diesel truck. Tesla chief executive Elon musk said at the unveiling, “It’s unlike any truck that you’ve ever driven.”
Tesla says that the new semi-truck has the ability to travel 500 miles on a single charge. That would be an attractive range for commercial truck drivers as the vast majority of truck routes are less than 250 miles. About 30 percent of U.S. trucking trips are regional and range between 100 to 200 miles. The company says that drivers can fully charge the truck during a 30-minute break after six or seven hours of driving.
The company is proud of the fact that it was able to design a semi-truck that produces zero emissions. The truck uses four independent motors to operate, but contains no gears or transmission, reducing its maintenance needs. Tesla has guaranteed that the truck will not break down for 1 million miles.
Musk said at the event, “What does it feel like to drive this truck? It’s amazing! It’s smooth, just like driving a Tesla.” The semi-trucks are expected to be available for purchase in 2019. The exact pricing for the new truck has not yet been revealed.
The new truck could transform the commercial trucking industry. The trucking industry has been moving towards greater safety, lower fuel costs and cleaner energy. The Environmental Defense Fund claims that the movement of freight accounts for about 16 percent of all corporate greenhouse gas emissions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that 4,000 people were killed and another 116,000 injured in accidents involving large trucks in 2015, the most recent year with comprehensive data available.
Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has already announced that it has ordered five Tesla units in Walmart U.S. and 10 units in Walmart Canada. Walmart spokesperson Ryan Curell said in a statement, “We have a long history of testing new technology – including alternative-fuel trucks – and we are excited to be among the first to pilot this new heavy-duty electric vehicle.” Grocery chain Meijer Inc. and J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. have also paid a $5,000 deposit per vehicle to reserve multiple trucks.