Just this morning, our Slack discussion was about the truck’s sales potential. We came to the not-at-all surprising conclusion that yes, it will sell.
While North America awaits Tesla Motors’ electrified big rig, the rest of the globe’s manufacturers are working on battery driven commercial vehicles of their own. These vehicles may not be able to match the Tesla’s size or ability to do burnouts, but their existence shows companies are taking electrification seriously.
FedEx, which has already reserved a handful of the Tesla trucks, bragged it would soon deploy Navistar-sourced electric trucks way back in 2010. However, with the exception of ultra-dense urban environments and shipping hubs, these units haven’t see a lot of action. For the most part, the addition of zero-emission vehicles seem like a good way for companies to virtue signal and test the feasibility of such a platform in a commercial setting. For example, UPS issued a press release in February saying it wanted to develop 50 battery electric vans that might someday replace its fleet of 35,000 gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles.
Still, there’s momentum building behind alternative energy vehicles in the commercial sector. Daimler-owned Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation started the slow rollout of its eCanter courier truck last September. It probably won’t break any sales records for the brand, but it does show manufacturers’ desire to not just develop, but sell these things at a meaningful volume — and it’s soon to be followed by Volvo Trucks’ brand new FL Electric.
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.
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.
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.
Having already dropped itself into an ocean of electric car R&D, Volkswagen is now making plans to develop battery-powered commercial vehicles aimed at servicing urban areas where public officials are having night terrors about air quality.
Jürgen Stackmann, VW’s board member responsible for sales and marketing, promised the company would be at “full steam” on EV production and development by 2020. That includes a battery-only option for “all styles and body types” by 2030, according to Stackmann. But the brand wants to have something similar on the table for trucks and buses before then.
Volkswagen Truck & Bus is investing 1.4 billion euros ($1.7 billion) into new electric drivetrains for use in both medium and heavy-duty distribution transport and city buses. While that development will go toward European vehicles initially, VW and strategic partner Navistar will use the “e-drivetrain” platform on U.S.-based electric trucks from 2019 onwards.