By on December 19, 2017

Tesla Semi, Image: Tesla

The United Parcel Service said Tuesday it will purchase 125 all-electric semi trucks from Tesla, surpassing PepsiCo’s order to make it the largest known order for the vehicle thus far. While the purchase isn’t tantamount to UPS making a complete shift to an electric fleet, the company has previously stated it wants to convert up to 1,500 delivery trucks in New York to battery electric units and has been researching non-traditional powertrains for some time.

With so many of its trips taking place between distribution hubs, a medium-range EV truck boasting a high capacity could be a good fit for UPS. At the very least, Tesla seems to think so — the delivery service provided the automaker with extensive data on how its trucks function on real-world routes in order to evaluate how the hulking BEVs might perform in its fleet. Of course, the cooperative experience also helps both companies promote themselves as leaders in the green revolution. 

“For more than a century, UPS has led the industry in testing and implementing new technologies for more efficient fleet operations. We look forward to expanding further our commitment to fleet excellence with Tesla,” explained Juan Perez, chief information and engineering officer, in a statement. “These groundbreaking electric tractors are poised to usher in a new era in improved safety, reduced environmental impact, and reduced cost of ownership.”

Dropping any and all cynicism, UPS does have one of the most extensive alternatively fueled fleets in the world. Bent on saving cash, the company has invested into all manner of tech to reduce fuel expenditures. It’s perpetually hunting for the next piece of technology that will bolster its bottom line.

However, it has to test those vehicles to ensure they’ll work as intended and Tesla’s truck will be no different. “As with any introductory technology for our fleet, we want to make sure it’s in a position to succeed,” Scott Phillippi, UPS senior director for automotive maintenance and engineering for international operations, told Reuters.

Phillippi said the 125 trucks are being purchased so UPS to conduct a proper test of their abilities. With the company was still determining their routes, he claimed they’ll primarily be used within the United States, with Tesla providing consultation and assistance on the charging infrastructure. “We have high expectations and are very optimistic that this will be a good product and it will have firm support from Tesla to make it work,” he said.

[Image: Tesla]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

31 Comments on “Here’s What Brown Can Do for Tesla Motors...”


  • avatar
    Tinn-Can

    How well do these self driving things deal with stuff like dirt parking lots or basically anything that isn’t mapped?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I think you’re confusing this (electric truck driven by a human) with autonomous vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      It does have a windshield and a steering wheel.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The driver will drive the truck using a steering wheel and foot pedals when autonomous stuff doesn’t work. You know, like we’ve been doing for 100 years.

      The software for full autonomy (as opposed to fancy cruise control which can take you from highway exit to highway exit) hasn’t been developed yet. Tesla believes the hardware they’re building will be able to handle it, but a lot of the autonomous talk is what the rest of the world would call a “forward looking statement”.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “It’s perpetually hunting for the next piece of technology that will bolster its bottom line.”

    That is how Walmart operates, too. Walmart’s secret sauce isn’t just volume buying from its suppliers, but in reducing the cost of moving product on the road and in their distribution centers. Consumers want to pay for the product – not the S&H required to get their hands on it. If you have a technology that can save them a dollar, they’re interested.

  • avatar
    silentsod

    This doesn’t surprise me. All these companies are looking to reduce ongoing operating cost.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    “My” UPS guy was converted last year from diesel to gas.
    It’s an LS, I assume a 6.0.
    Guessing the low initial cost trumps the acquisition and maintenance on EPA 2007 diesels.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Given the huge rush of e-commerce (Amazon) delivery services (UPS and FedEx) and the “last mile” of service (your doorstep) is quickly becoming the holy grail for future retail sales (and thus profits). Things must be delivered faster and cheaper tomorrow or the whole system falls apart. Telsa knows this as much as everyone else… so the question is can they actually DO something about it? They can’t seem to make a mid-sized sedan in volume, but a handful of battery powered custom big rigs? I’m thinking yes this is right up their alley.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    As I have stated before, the Tesla big rig is a potential game changer for urban environments/air quality. A box truck that can run all day on a charge would be a huge fuel and air quality savings. Factor in the little to zero maintenance required for an EV/ET and you have a winner.

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      Yes, but very little is given up as to real specs. Will it accomplish the 500-mile range with the current 2170 battery packs? Tesla fanboys suggest that trailers be built with batteries in them but that’s a ridiculous proposal as many trailers will set at lots that not only have to be recharged, but cut into the 80,000lb. load limit.

      I get that at some point this will make sense, but hell, they can’t even kick Model 3s out the door and don’t have any line to build them. And if anyone thinks the big players in trucking are paying the “Founders Series” at full pop, please share your drugs. Notice how none of these announcements say anything about the deposit made.

      Ship some damn Model 3s and quit coming back to Wall Street hat in hand after he cooks hotdogs on the top of the Gigafactory.

      At least he’s got SpaceX in his ba pocket!

      • 0 avatar
        civicjohn

        Meant “BACK” pocket…

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        Musk is doing a lot besides Tesla and SpaceX. The Boring Company, for instance. Which has potential to be a bigger deal than Tesla or SoaceX.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        500 miles may sound cool, but most local deliveries don’t require it, assuming “megacharger” availability. I’m guessing early adopters are salivating at how easy it is to remove unneeded range, hence weight, from an e-powerstrain; hence retaining as much as possible of the truck’s GVVR for payload. With a diesel rig, most of the weight is in the engine and transmission itself. Which makes extra range cheap if you need it, but if you don’t……

        • 0 avatar
          87 Morgan

          Stuki, I 100% agree. The 500 mile range keeps coming up. I seriously doubt the average UPS truck does 500 miles while doing deliveries, or the beverage delivery truck or what have you. I would think the need is to have a 10 hour charge that can get the truck out of the loading dock, complete deliveries, and back on one charge.

          In an urban setting the truck may actually only drive 90 miles, but how much is spent idling in traffic, or at an unloading dock.

          Just because the word semi was used, it does not have to mean the long haul cross country tractor with a super sleeper.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            Yup.

            In the diesel world, short/local delivery class 8 trucks, are largely stuck with the same drivetrain as their long haul brethren, since diesel drivetrain weight, size and cost is determined to a large extent by the size of load that needs to be moved; accelerated and slowed down in a reasonably dynamic fashion.

            For smaller trucks, there has been a strong trend towards gasoline engines for shorter hauls. But for the big guys, there are few, if any, gas drivetrains up to the task. If Tesla can deliver an electric truck, and a charging infrastructure to go with it, that does allow for more short/local optimized class 8 capacity, I wouldn’t be surprised if that market turns out to be bigger than most anyone expects right now. Heck, it wouldn’t surprise me if Tesla is predominantly a truck maker in a decade’s time, leaving commoditized passenger cars to other players.

            Even before costs in isolation make the Tesla rig the economic choice, the mere demonstrated existence of such a truck, at a somewhat sane cost, will entice cities to start regulating polluting diesel rigs out of their cores. Those truck have so far been exempt from the toughest anti pollution measures, to a large extent because viable alternatives have not existed. Once/if they demonstrably do, it will become increasingly difficult to justify idling around densely populated areas in big diesel rigs optimized for the open road.

  • avatar
    badreligion702

    They can barely roll out 300 Model 3’s. Will the remaining 400k preorders be pushed aside to get these to UPS, Pepsi and Annheiser Busch?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Seems like they’re living from one deposit to the other.

      Tesla: “We PROMISE you a vehicle, eventually. Make the check payable to “cash”, and I’ll be right back with it…”

      • 0 avatar
        Erikstrawn

        That’s how business is done now. What do you think a “leveraged buyout” is? Instead of borrowing cash to buy bigger competitors, he’s borrowing cash to expand his company into new areas. Unlike leveraged buyouts, which really create nothing, Tesla’s growth actually achieves something… eventually… if they ever get the Model 3 out the door.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          +1

          With the Fed in full debase-everyone-forever-and-hand-the-resulting-loot-to-know-nothing-banksters mode, whatever money you can make selling goods and services, pales into virtual insignificance compared to what you can make selling paper.

        • 0 avatar
          Ar-Pharazon

          Hardly. These are not investors buying stock. They’re customers “buying” vehicles. Using the sales revenue from pre-orders to design and develop the product you are selling is a hucker’s move.

          UPS and the others are buying a cheap ticket onto the bandwagon. What kind of deposits are they putting down, and at what terms?

  • avatar
    65corvair

    UPS will take delivery on these trucks about the time they have converted over to cold fusion.

  • avatar
    stuki

    From where I’m sitting, Tesla has finally found their business. A gang of Bay Area option millionaires, will likely never have any lasting advantage in producing anything as low margin and supply chain constrained as mainstream passenger cars. Bigger trucks, with their individually higher margins allowing for more room for unit to unit innovation and customization, plays much more to their strengths.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    I don’t understand why Tesla is pushing their big rig, long-haul design when the real money for them, higher volume and likely better real-world application is indeed in this “last mile” type vehicle.

    A fleet of short-haul intra-urban Tesla Fedex and UPS trucks makes a world of sense.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      I think USPS should work with Tesla to convert their fleet of ancient LLVs to electric. That’ll fix all their problems.

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      I agree- the last-few-miles UPS delivery trucks is where electric would REALLY shine, rather than continuous, high loads of long-haul trucks. The regenerative braking would really be put to good use, the constant start/stop would not result in a lot of wear, they’d not be noisy and stinky, and total miles driven in a day is relatively short.

      Hell- even a super-capacitor based delivery truck/garbage truck would be extremely useful. Just enough juice to slow it down and get it back up to speed a couple times.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      My guess is that they tackled the semi first for a few reasons:
      1) Because they need it to haul cargo between Tesla facilities (gigafactory and NUMMI)
      2) It’ll make it easier to convince the world to buy smaller trucks and vans.
      3) It’s within bounds for their 3rd generation battery cell, which pretty much has to be lighter and smaller per KWH than the batteries we’re familiar with.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    My vaporware company just bought 1,125 of these vaporware trucks

    There’s your story TTAC.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Yeah, because UPS and PepsiCo are vaporware companies.

      Honestly this is probably the most logical product in Tesla’s portfolio assuming they can get it built.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Isn’t this just kind of us coming full circle? Weren’t milk trucks and what not back in the day electric?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    One UPS long haul drive leaves Point A. Another UPS drive leaves Point B. No, this won’t be an algebra problem. The drivers meet midway between Point A and Point B. The drivers swap trailers and return to their Starting Points. They drive safely, at the speed limit, for an eight hour day. Easy enough for an electric semi. I could see them switching back to a diesel truck on “iffy” weather days. Two full tanks of diesel will keep a driver toasty warm while waiting out a snowstorm.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • MRF 95 T-Bird: At one time in the 80’s the family fleet in my folks household ran the gamut from my sisters 77 Toyota...
  • la834: The Chevy 2.8L V6 was considered, and at least one prototype built, but I’m unaware of the Buick 3.8...
  • ToolGuy: And then specific to Nissan’s situation with Titan (conjecture): – If you need a truck you might...
  • ToolGuy: For purposes of this post, assume I know nothing about the automotive industry, not much about pickup...
  • Lorenzo: Biggest was the 472 in a 1968 Coupe De Ville. Second biggest was a 440 in a 1971 New Yorker. The Chrysler...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber