What goes from zero to 60 in 20 seconds and looks like a Cylon raider? If you guessed the new Tesla semi-trucks, you’re spot on. Lauded by the company as the “safest, most comfortable truck ever,” these new long-haul vehicles could transform the shipping industry, with products expected to be under construction as early as 2019.
Big corporations are already hopping on the bandwagon, in what we hope is not just another “hey look at us, we’re environmentally friendly” move. UPS announced Tuesday that it’s ordered 125 of the trucks. Earlier this month, PepsiCo placed an order for 100. Beer conglomerate Anheuser-Busch reserved 40. And major food distributor Sysco requested 50. Not to be left behind, Wal-Mart ordered 15.
The trucks can run 300 to 500 miles between each charge and will range in price from $150,000 to $180,000, depending on features. Four engines manage traction control independently. Inside, the sleek cabin contains an enhanced autopilot feature to prevent collisions, the driver’s seat is centered, and a low center of gravity allegedly prevents rollovers.
While the early orders are promising, they’re just a drop in the bucket compared with the national need. According to the L.A. Times, 238,000 heavy-duty semi-trucks are produced in the U.S. each year to meet the need of companies. Despite the speed of Amazon prime — which often requires that packages are shipped instead of driven — 70 percent of the country’s total freight is transported by trucks.
The trucks have a lot of expectations riding on them, but despite being near the tech capital of the country, San Franciscans won’t get to see them first. That honor goes to Nevada, which is home to Tesla’s battery factory and has already encouraged “semi-truck experimentation” on its public highways. That’s just fine with us, thank you very much.