The development marks the birth of a green, cost effective long-haul trucking industry.
Next month, Tesla Inc is set to unveil a big-rig electric truck which will have a mile range of 200 to 300 miles.
The development is a sign that Tesla is eyeing the commercial freight market as it aggressively ramps up the production of its mass market Model 3 sedan.
The development has tantalized the trucking industry with the prospect of a long range battery-powered heavy-duty vehicles that can compete with conventional diesel-powered vehicles that can travel up to 1,000 miles on a fully loaded fuel tank.
Tesla electric prototype is likely to fall in the low of of the trucking industry, said Scott Perry, an executive at Ryder System Inc, a Miami-based fleet operator, who had met Tesla officials earlier this year to discuss the technology at the automaker’s manufacturing facility in Fremont, California.
According to Perry, Tesla’s efforts are centered on an electric big-rig known as a “day cab” that has a mile range of 200 to 300 miles with a typical payload on a single charge.
“I’m not going to count them out for having a strategy for longer distances or ranges, but right out of the gate I think that’s where they’ll start,” said Perry, CTO at Ryder.
When asked to respond to requests for comments, Tesla’s spokesperson stated, ”Tesla’s policy is to always decline to comment on speculation, whether true or untrue, as doing so would be silly. Silly!”
Although Tesla’s plan could change as the prototype undergoes further improvements, their current plan is consistent with what Perry stated.
Tesla has not publicly disclosed the mile range of its electric long-haul trucks, including how much they would cost and its cargo load. Musk has however acknowledged that Tesla has met privately with potential buyers to discuss their requirements.
Large scale production of Tesla’s semi-autonomous trucks, within the near future, could mark Tesla’s entry into a lucrative new market.
Tesla’s shares are up by around 65% this year.
The transportation industry is likely to significantly benefit from the introduction of long-haul electric trucks since it could reduce their operational costs since electricity from the grid is cheaper than diesel.
According to researchers and industry leaders, if Tesla’s long-haul electric trucks have a mile range of 200 to 300 it is likely to place Tesla at the edge of the nascent electric truck industry.
Leaders in the transportation industry believes that although electric trucks could be more expensive than their fossil-fuel guzzling cousins, they are however much cheaper to maintain and have more predictable fuel costs.
Furthermore, with batteries become cheaper and an increase in environmental regulation, the case for electric trucks is only set to strengthen.
“This tech is being seen as a major potential differentiator. Everyone wants to understand how real it is,” said Perry.