Anheuser-Busch Reserves 40 Electric Semi Trucks From Tesla Motors

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

When you’re selling the self-professed “King of Beers,” you’re going to want to transport them in a style befitting of royalty. Either that, or you’re interested in keeping your shipping costs to a minimum and have the capital necessary to invest in new technologies like an electric semi.

Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser and over a dozen other beer brands, has decided to purchase 40 of Tesla’s battery-electric trucks. The company said it made the move in hopes of reducing fuel costs and cutting vehicle emissions. We’d also gamble that the adult beverage purveyor is interested in the vehicle’s claimed autonomous driving capabilities.

In 2016, an Otto truck carrying nearly 52,000 cans of Budweiser completed an autonomous delivery of 132 miles from Anheuser-Busch’s brewery in Ft. Collins, Colorado, to a distributor in Colorado Springs. The news was heavily promoted by the company, which had previously expressed an interest in autonomous shipping applications.

“At Anheuser-Busch, we are constantly seeking new ways to make our supply chain more sustainable, efficient, and innovative,” said James Sembrot, senior director of logistics strategy, in a press release. “This investment in Tesla semi-trucks helps us achieve these goals while improving road safety and lowering our environmental impact.”

However, it’s not just beer companies buying Tesla’s truck. Walmart announced it had preordered 15 trucks immediately after its unveiling as part of a North American pilot program to see how they would perform. Transport services like J.B. Hunt, DHL, and Ryder have also placed orders with Tesla.

All told, it’s estimated that the manufacturer currently has about 150 reservations with various companies — most of which just want to suss out how well the electric trucks stack up against traditional diesel models. The Tesla-branded haulers start at $150,000 when equipped with power source good for 300 miles. But customers willing to spend $180,000 can have a version with a 500-mile range.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk claims the trucks should be available by 2019 and that the company will begin deploying “megachargers” that can can resupply enough energy for 400 miles of travel in around 30 minutes. While that’s a major improvement compared to the company’s existing supercharger network, it’s still not as fast as the fueling islands slinging diesel at roadside truck stops.

[Image: Tesla Motors]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

More by Matt Posky

Join the conversation
3 of 47 comments
  • 87 Morgan 87 Morgan on Dec 08, 2017

    Some very interesting comments regarding the Tesla semi. The term OTR has been used. 'Over The Road' trucking is, in my recollection, the term for interstate highway hauling versus intrastate trucking. Pick up at the terminal in Houston and drop off in Edina MN for example and the operator is in the truck virtually the entire time driving, sleeping, or watching tv is interstate and not the intended use of the Tesla truck near as I can tell. Pick up in Fort Collins CO at the Budweiser plant and drop off in Colorado Springs? One driver can do this twice in one day, easily. AB ordering/investing in 20 or however many they ordered makes complete sense. 1. The amount of $$ they will spend is negligible compared to the profit of the macro operation. 2. If they electric trucks are a success it will save the company millions in shipping costs. They win either way, small investment to see if the technology works the downside is a drop in the bucket compared to the upside. Same for Wal-Mart. They load at the massive train depot in Cheyenne WY and distribute all across the region, Denver especially. 120 miles between the two cities. The other thing to keep in mind with the rapid charging, when the Wal-Mart truck backs up to the loading dock it is not like the entire 52' trailer is emptied immediately. If a rapid charger can be installed at each location you could virtually recharge or top off in the amount of time it takes to unload. Finally, what this could do for local air quality is incalculable. If this can work and Paccar, Volvo and others get on board and develop dump trucks, garbage haulers, box trucks and what have you the improvements to urban air quality would be substantial. We have all been behind, the cement truck or dump truck that is unintentionally rolling massive amounts of coal. The idea of retiring these rigs does not hurt my feelings one bit.

    • Redmondjp Redmondjp on Dec 08, 2017

      I'm with you, but if we as a country are serious about electrifying our vehicle fleets, we're going to have to spend hundreds of billions of dollars upgrading our electrical system first. Across our nation we should be building 25-50 new latest-generation nuclear plants right now. New nuclear plants have passive safety features designed right in, so they can lose all coolant and not melt down. Most plants in operation today have designs dating back to the 1960s and early 1970s. Alternative energy sources will never provide enough power for our needs. They will have to be supplemented with other power sources as well as a lot of storage as well. This all takes an incredible amount of money. I used to work for a privately-held electric utility, which got bought out and is now owned by an Australian investor group. These new owners exist to make money, not to upgrade the power systems to provide a massive increase in capability in order to serve electric vehicles. There is no short-term payback in doing so and that's all that they care about. So as much as I am in favor of this new technology and want to see it happen, from a practical standpoint, we have massive hurdles to overcome on the energy supply side. Now if the Department of Energy actually held to its original mission and was driving these infrastructure improvements, then maybe we would have a chance.

  • APaGttH APaGttH on Dec 08, 2017

    I will remind the Teslarati that a number of other makers have taken a pile of deposits (including Tesla) on products still in a near vaporware state and never delivered said orders. CEOs change, market conditions change, business models change, and suddenly these commercial orders (very different from 1 off consumers) go poof! How about all those Volts and Leaves that GE, etc. etc. etc. claimed they were going to buy a decade ago?

  • Grant P Farrell Oh no the dealership kept the car for hours on two occasions before giving me a loaner for two months while they supposedly replaced the ECU. I hate cords so I've only connected it wirelessly. Next I'm gonna try using the usb-c in the center console and leaving the phone plugged in in there, not as convenient but it might lower my blood pressure.
  • Jeff Tiny electrical parts are ruining today's cars! What can they ...
  • CEastwood From zero there is nowhere to go but up . BYD isn't sold in the U.S. and most Teslas are ugly azz 90s looking plain jane drone mobiles . I've only seen one Rivian on the road and it 's not looking good for them . I live out in the sticks of NW NJ and EVs just aren't practical here , but the local drag strip thrives in the warmer months with most cars making the trip from New York .
  • Lorenzo Aw, that's just the base price. Toyota dealers aren't in the same class as BMW/Porsche upsellers, and the Toyota base is more complete, but nobody will be driving that model off the lot at that price.
  • Mike The cost if our busing program is 6.2 million for our average size district in NJ. It was 3.5 last year.