Tesla has announced a new vehicle in development: the Tesla Semi. If it meets expectations, the all-electric truck is poised to change the nature of not just trucking, but commercial transport as a whole. Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas, an analyst with a history of covering Tesla’s products and market footprint, called it “the biggest catalyst in trucking in decades”.

Some of the expectations for the Semi are in line with how Tesla cars vary from gas-powered personal vehicles. For example:

It will be cheaper to operate. Jonas estimates it will be up to 70% less expensive to operate than a regular truck.

The sticker cost should be competitive. Morgan Stanley estimates a $100,000 price tag for the truck, though this includes an additional lease for batteries.

Its range may be problematic. At an estimated 200 to 300 miles, the Semi’s range will not match that of a gas-powered truck. The Semi’s viability in any given area will depend on how easily battery swap stations can be found.

However, Tesla founder Elon Musk envisions one major shift the Semi can bring to the industry: no more drivers. The Semi’s design includes autonomous driving capability. To be clear, this does not mean autonomous vehicles in the current sense, where a driver is still present to take over in an emergency. At TED 2017 in Vancouver, Musk spoke of a future where truck drivers are no longer in the vehicle, but rather maintain a “fleet manager” role, taking care of several vehicles simultaneously rather than just their own. If his design works, the result could be a major upswing in transport via semi, as it would sidestep current issues in finding qualified drivers.

The Semi prototype will be unveiled in September 2017, with full-scale release expected in 2019 or 2020. If you want to know more about the Semi or any other freight-related issue, contact us with your questions or concerns.