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Electrifying the future of commercial trucking: Tesla Semi and beyond

July 11, 2023
5 minutes
Ferenc Boroczky
Founder and CEO of anet360

The trucking industry is undergoing a significant transformation as electric trucks emerge as a promising solution for sustainable transportation. In this blog post, we aim to provide decision-makers with a comprehensive view of the electric truck landscape, specifically focusing on the Tesla Semi and alternative options. By exploring the promises, challenges, and considerations, decision-makers can make informed choices when considering the adoption of electric trucks for their fleets.

Tesla Semi: A Paradigm Shift for Trucking?

After five years of anticipation, the Tesla Semi has finally hit the roads. Recently, Pepsi's Frito-Lay facility in Modesto, California, became one of the first to put the new electric trucks to the test. Tesla's ambitious goal was to create an affordable electric big rig capable of competing with traditional, cost-effective diesel trucks. However, some transportation firms remain cautious, citing concerns about recharge time, range limitations, payload capabilities, and the nascent market for electric commercial vehicles.

PepsiCo's Move: Investing in the Promise

Amidst this backdrop, PepsiCo, one of North America's largest fleet owners, has taken the bold step of deploying Tesla Semis for its snack foods and beverage shipments. With a promised range of 500 miles (800 km), these electric trucks aim to serve the crucial manufacturing-to-distribution and direct retail routes. While early reports indicate that the actual range may differ from the original promise, PepsiCo's move underscores its confidence in electric trucking potential.

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Advantages of electric trucks for fleet operators
  1. Environmental benefits: Electric trucks produce zero tailpipe emissions, combating air pollution and climate change. Improved Urban Air Quality: Fleet operators can enhance air quality in urban areas, reducing the impact of transportation on public health.
  2. Cost savings: Despite higher upfront costs compared to diesel trucks, electric trucks offer significant long-term savings. Lower electricity costs, coupled with reduced maintenance and repair expenses due to fewer moving parts, contribute to enhanced cost efficiency over the vehicle's lifespan.
  3. Fuel efficiency: Electric trucks demonstrate superior energy efficiency, converting a higher percentage of stored battery energy into driving power. This increased efficiency results in reduced energy waste, lower consumption, and extended driving ranges, particularly advantageous for long-haul and regular routes.
  4. Government Incentives: Road to Zero Strategy: The Road to Zero Strategy sets out the UK government's plan to transition to zero-emission vehicles, including electric trucks. It includes commitments to increase the availability of charging infrastructure, invest in research and development, and provide financial incentives to support the adoption of electric vehicles in the commercial sector. (More information here). Plug-in Van Grant (PiVG): The Plug-in Van Grant provides financial incentives to support the purchase of eligible electric vans, including electric trucks. The grant offers a discount on the purchase price, making electric trucks more affordable for fleet operators. (More information here)
  5. Brand image and public perception: In an era where sustainability is a key consumer concern, businesses prioritizing environmental responsibility gain a competitive advantage. Deploying electric trucks allows fleet operators to enhance brand image, attract eco-conscious customers, and demonstrate their commitment to a sustainable future.
Considerations for Fleet Operators
  1. Limited charging infrastructure: Fleet operators must carefully plan routes and ensure access to reliable charging facilities, especially for long-haul operations or areas with limited charging station coverage. (The most common public EV charge point providers are in the UK BP Pulse (Chargemaster), Chargeplace Scotland, Chargeyourcar, Fastned, Geniepoint, Gridserve (Ecotricity), Instavolt, Ionity, Osprey/Engenie, Pod Point, Shell Recharge and Tesla.)
  2. Initial cost: Although electric trucks offer long-term savings, the upfront purchase cost may be higher than that of diesel trucks. Fleet operators must assess their financial capabilities and evaluate the total cost of ownership over the vehicle's lifespan.
  3. Range limitations: While electric truck ranges are improving, they may still have limitations compared to diesel counterparts, particularly for long-haul operations. Fleet operators must evaluate their specific needs and select electric truck models that meet their range requirements without compromising efficiency. According to Statista the projected average range of electric vehicles between 2020 and 2030 will be from 220 Km to 440 Km in 2030.(Source)
  4. Charging time: Charging electric trucks takes longer than refuelling diesel trucks. Fleet operators need to account for adequate charging time to avoid operational disruptions. However, advancements in charging technology, such as fast-charging infrastructure, are being developed to address this challenge.
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Alternative options 

While the Tesla Semi has garnered significant attention, other manufacturers are also making strides in the electric truck market. Here are a few noteworthy alternatives:

  • Daimler (Freightliner eCascadia): The eCascadia is an all-electric heavy-duty truck by Daimler's Freightliner brand, designed for long-haul applications. Link
  • Volvo (Volvo VNR Electric): Volvo Trucks offers the VNR Electric, an all-electric regional haul truck suitable for local and regional distribution operations. Link
  • Nikola (Nikola Tre): Nikola Corporation's electric heavy-duty truck, the Nikola Tre, targets long-haul and regional operations, offering multiple range options. Link
  • BYD (BYD Electric Trucks): BYD specializes in electric vehicles, providing a range of electric trucks, including medium-duty and heavy-duty models suitable for various applications. Link
  • Scania Electric Trucks: Scania offers a range of electric trucks designed for various applications, including urban distribution, construction, and waste management. These trucks are powered by electric drivetrains and feature zero tailpipe emissions, contributing to reduced air pollution and noise levels in urban areas. Link

When considering the adoption of electric trucks, decision-makers must carefully evaluate the promises and challenges they present. The Tesla Semi and alternative electric truck options offer advantages such as environmental benefits, cost savings, and government support. However, considerations regarding charging infrastructure, total cost of ownership, range limitations, and charging time are vital for making informed decisions. Exploring alternative options beyond Tesla ensures a comprehensive understanding of the evolving electric truck market. By embracing electric trucks, fleet operators can contribute to a sustainable future, leverage cost savings, and align with regulatory initiatives.

Note: The links provided in this blog post are accurate as of the time of writing, but it's advisable to visit the respective manufacturers' websites for the most up-to-date information on their electric truck offerings.,

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Ferenc Boroczky
Founder and CEO of anet360
With more than 15 years in design and technology focused on people, I've dedicated myself to growing a business that makes a real difference. I'm the Founder and CEO of Another Set of Eyes (anet), a company my wife and I built from scratch. We've come a long way without financial backing from investors, proving our resilience and innovation and developing a high-quality, yet user-friendly software solution. Our mission is to change how organizations gather and use important information, share insights, and train their teams.

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