By on December 12, 2017

Tesla Semi, Image: Tesla

PepsiCo nearly doubled the number of new electric big rigs Tesla will have to manufacture after reserving 100 units. Adding to the list of orders by more than a dozen companies, including other massive companies like Wal-Mart and Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi is helping Tesla make a case for EVs with a fixation on freight.

Last year, the food brand stated it wanted to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent by 2030. With a fleet of over 10,000 units, semi trucks might be a good place to seek improvements. Granted, depending upon how it’s generated, pulling energy from the grid isn’t a perfect solution. But, at that point, it’s someone else’s problem. 

Like the rest of the companies reserving Tesla’s truck, this is something of a trial run. Reuters reported that PepsiCo intends to deploy the semis for shipments between manufacturing and distribution facilities and to retailers within the 500-mile range promised by Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Presumably, if everything goes well, the company will order more. Mike O‘Connell, senior director of North American supply chain for PepsiCo subsidiary Frito-Lay, says he sees a wide range of applications for lighter loads (like chips) or shorter shipments of beverages.

However, Pepsi will have to wait before it can begin its field research and discover if Tesla’s truck was “the right one, baby.” Musk doesn’t expect the electric rigs to enter into production until 2019.

O‘Connell didn’t specify how much PepsiCo paid to reserve the vehicles, when it placed its pre-orders, or whether it plans to lease the semis or purchase them. Tesla initially asked $5,000 per truck for pre-orders but Reuters claims the amount had risen to around $20,000 more recently.

[Image: Tesla Motors]

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24 Comments on “Pepsi Buys 100 Tesla Trucks: Do They ‘Have the Right One, Baby?’...”


  • avatar
    Syke

    Well, for the publicity value, it’s worthwhile. Pepsi (and Coke) are having this minor problem that the millennial generation is treating carbonated sugar water with the same disdain as they give to Harley-Davidson motorcycles. This could be a good selling point for their alternate (non-Pepsi) brands.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    For local short-haul traffic like your typical Pepsi delivery truck, an electric truck makes a lot of sense.

    I think too many people, when they think “semi” automatically think only of Over-the-Road trucks, for which an electric does indeed have a lot of obstacles, to put it mildly. But the market for trucks which don’t serve the long-haul market is plenty big.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      That being the case, you’d think they might have gone with something the size of an F-650. A medium duty truck, in other words.

      • 0 avatar
        Malforus

        Pepsi and Coke still use the fifth-wheel arrangements in cities and regional distribution so a F650’s max tow capacity of 26,500 on the fifth wheel is still on the low end for tractor arrangements.

        Beverage trucks actually end up carrying a huge amount of weight since their primary weight source is water and water is heavy in the volumes these things carry.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if International is staying quiet because they know Tesla can’t do the volume to threaten them, and by the point that Tesla can they will likely have a diesel electric hybrid.

        Cause honestly for long or medium haul batteries are still way down on energy density.

  • avatar
    turf3

    Use railroads to take freight to local terminals, then distribute from there using hybrid (diesel-electric) or all-electric trucks. This basic model, only using either horse/mule drawn wagons or gasoline trucks for local delivery, worked fine from about 1850 to 1950.

    Of course the graphic has nothing to do with the actual thing being discussed. No one with a brain expects long haul trucks to be all-electric for generations if ever.

    Note also that Pepsi did NOT “buy” these trucks; they have “reserved” them. Also it’s clearly stated that we don’t even know if they had to put a deposit. Or, if they did, under what conditions said deposit would be refundable.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Railroads lost to trucks because trucks offered lower cost and much more reliable service door to door. Loading onto a “local” truck and taking the load to the freight station to unload and reload from truck to boxcar, and then repeating this on the delivery end was very labor intensive and expensive. Also, a 200 car train in which your firm’s perishable product was in 5 cars often meant your cargo sat for days in some freight yard being coupled and decoupled from various trains going in different directions with mixed cargo. Trains are good for some cargo such as grain or coal, but not very good for smallish loads of perishable goods, so going back to the train and electric truck model is unlikely to be attractive for most shipping.

      • 0 avatar
        PandaBear

        stingray65, switch Railroad out for cargo ship and look again.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Because there is a viable alternative to shipping things across the ocean like there is shipping them over land? I guess they could use cargo planes, but that is extremely cost prohibitive.

          If you want your product to make it from one shore to another, you do what you have to do. If you want your product to make it from one state to another, there are choices of land-based vehicles (trains vs. trucks).

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        A significant factor in the train vs truck matter was that the railroads had to pay for and maintain both the trains and the tracks, while trucking had the roads built and maintained by the public. And the roads require an awful lot more land. Trains would gain another advantage if shippers had to pay for pollution.

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    so when are diesel-hybrid long-haul trucks debuting? (or have they already?)

    I’d imagine hybrids hit the sweet spot of price and efficiency better than near-future electric tech. (unless Elon has some physics breakthrough up his sleeve)

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    They can off-set some of the charging by placing solar and wind power generators on their properties (think how much square footage there is on top of a warehouse or distribution terminal).

    • 0 avatar
      Malforus

      Lots of warehouses are already doing that, retrofits are expensive so its mostly in the new warehouses but they are able to largely offset their HVAC and lighting costs by running LED lighting and using the roof for solar.

      Just don’t do it in Tornado or hail country.

  • avatar
    Heino

    No Pepsi! Coke. No fries! Chips. This makes a lot of sense now that Pepsi/Coke are focusing on their healthier offerings. I would like to see a remake of Duel with a Tesla truck and a Model S.

    • 0 avatar
      James2

      “I would like to see a remake of Duel with a Tesla truck and a Model S.”

      Good time for the movies to bring back intermission, giving both predator and prey a chance to recharge.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        Has the possibilities like that episode of Good Behavior, Season 1, where the protagonists steal a Tesla Model S and then have to make their getaway with no Superchargers anywhere near by.

        It was quite an entertaining episode, and doing it using a Tesla rather than, say, an Audi added to the plot and suspense.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      A haunting movie indeed.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    If Tesla electric trucks make it to market by 2019, it will be a miracle. The Model 3 is still not up to production speed. Any established truck maker could make ET’s, it ain’t rocket science. In Britain in the ’50s there were all sorts of local delivery trucks and even giant hand carts delivering milk. Can remember the whirring sounds. Of course they used regular lead-acid batteries, but were missing GPS for some reason

    This old is new again routine is getting boring.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Okay, then what would you suggest as an alternative?

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      You always have to consider that any deliveries are based on “Musk time”, which is a completely different calendar that you or I are used to.

      Good luck with getting that production line up and running by 2019, first we had Elon cooking hot dogs on top of the Gigafactory to fix that “production hell” problem, and goodness knows what they are turning out at Fremont.

      They don’t post monthly sales, only quarterly, and I was roundly criticized for even bringing it up – “Tesla is basically made to order, some monthly production goes overseas, etc., etc.”

      Now Elon is going to send a Roadster to Mars…I expect another silly event to gloss over the dismal deliveries of Model 3s. If they lose the $7500 tax credit, say bye-bye to some of those 500,000 pre orders (I can’t believe that people put down $1k and are trying to sell their reservation on eBay!)

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Perhaps they’re following the Elio model now – that is, using prepaid “reservations” to fund the startup of a new model.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Pepsi can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions immediately, by just putting a bit less carbon dioxide gas in its soda pop.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    So-all these deposits for this “VAPOR-WARE” semi will help keep Tesla afloat a little while longer.

    What makes anybody think if they can’t produce the Model 3 they will be able to produce a number of Semis?

    The pyramid continues…

    (queue SCE)

  • avatar
    tylanner

    Trucking is cool again…

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