Following an order for 15 Tesla Semi Trucks by Walmart, an order for 25 from Loblaw, and orders from JB Hunt, Ryder Systems, and others, Deutsche Post AG’s DHL has reportedly now pre-ordered 10 of the all-electric semi trucks to test on select routes.
To be more specific, DHL Supply Chain — a provider of transportation, warehousing, and distribution services to manufacturers and retailers in the US — will be trialling the Tesla Semi Truck in various major cities following delivery in 2019 (or later if that’s when the truck actually makes it to market).
“The trucks will be used for shuttle runs and same-day customer deliveries, and will be tested for fuel efficiency on longer runs from major markets to other DHL operations across the country,” a company statement on the matter read.
“At DHL Supply Chain, we’re always thinking beyond today’s shipment — whether that be thinking about tomorrow, next month or two years from now when these trucks become available,” said Jim Monkmeyer, President of Transportation at DHL Supply Chain. “This is a revolutionary approach to trucking, and we want to be a part of it for our customers, for our associates and for our industry.”
While that’s basically a lot of typical PR talk, the term “revolutionary” being used by a DHL president seems out of the ordinary and worth noting.
“Factors like comfort and time on the road play a large role in driver job satisfaction,” added Monkmeyer. “While we always try to optimize transportation routes to allow our drivers to be home same-day, we’re also excited about the potential to bring our drivers the comfort and safety benefits that the Tesla Class 8 truck could offer.”
The Canada-based fleet management firm Fortigo Freight Services Inc has also been persuaded to pre-order a Tesla Semi Truck — just one, it should be noted, with the intent of seeing how it performs in the real world before possibly ordering more.
Fortigo CEO Elias Demangos was quoted by Reuters as stating: “We’ll be running it in a pilot program to ensure it meets our business objectives.”
The Reuters coverage continues: “The 500-mile (800 km) range between charges for the Tesla Semi is about half the range between fill-ups of a diesel Class 8 truck. Heavy batteries cut payload and add cost, potential deal killers for fleet buyers focused on operating cost per mile.”
While that is somewhat true, it should be realized that, for many, stopping for a 20–30 minute break every 4–5 hours or so for a rest or a meal makes sense and amounts to a safer work schedule. As regards the comments about operating cost per mile, in most markets, the opposite would be the truth of the matter, with an all-electric semi truck’s operating and maintenance costs being well below those of a diesel unit’s. I have to wonder a bit about the motive of the author who wrote that.
One way or another, though, all of this is a moot point until Tesla actually delivers the units and real-world usage proves the reality of lower operating and maintenance costs — and that won’t be until 2019, at the earliest.