In November of 2017, Elon Musk sparked a combination of excitement and fear throughout the trucking world. The billionaire stepped on stage and introduced the Tesla Semi. Features packed into the all-electric big rig include semi-autonomous driving, up to 500 miles of range, and the ability to have a 400-mile charge in just 30 minutes. Tesla claims that their truck can cost as much as $0.20 cheaper per mile than traditional semis. Tesla also impressed industry experts with Convoy Mode. In a concept video, Convoy Mode was shown off with one human-controlled truck leading two other unmanned semi-autonomous vehicles.
Tesla Semi sparked controversy amongst industry veterans and analysts regarding the implications brought by the futuristic vehicle. Many fear that a human-free workforce will decimate the trucking industry. Today, some experts are saying otherwise. After debuting in 2019, the trucks may have the potential to change the industry for the better.
How the Tesla Semi May Help the Trucking Industry
Fears about the Tesla Semi have begun to dissipate since the earliest days of the vehicle’s announcement. Truck drivers often struggle to co-exist with the nation’s hours-of-service laws. These laws force drivers to selectively drive during certain hours of the day and create a burden to find a place to rest as required. If trucks are autonomous, they will give drivers the ability to rest as needed and focus on driving even more.
Automated trucks may also help with the shortage of truck drivers that the industry is experiencing throughout the nation. Tesla will address the trucker shortage with a feature called Convoy that will allow a single truck to lead two other unmanned semi-autonomous vehicles. If a vehicle requires less human interaction to make deliveries, what was once considered a deficit might soon be a stable and sustainable number of workers.
All predictions for Tesla Semi have been released exclusively by the company. However, this bias has not stopped several large companies from trusting Tesla enough to buy a small fleet of Tesla Semis. So far, giants such as UPS, FedEx, Pepsi, Walmart, and Anheuser-Busch have invested in what may be the future of trucking.
Be sure to read part 2 of this series, which will be released later this month.