|Tesla Semi Truck Hauls Heavy Disruptive Potential|
Tesla’s announcement of an electric semi-truck is a big deal – not only does it have the potential to disrupt one the nation’s largest industries, but it marks another leap forward in making Tesla’s grand vision a reality. That said, we caution that it will take years for the Tesla Semi to come to market.
Based on Tesla’s history, the most logical go-to-market approach would be staggered: Within about 3 years, Tesla could target short haul trucking (think of UPS or Fedex trucks that return to a depot to be charged at night). Then in about 5 years, Tesla could target long haul trucking, and, in 6-10 years, offer a fleet of trucks as a service. We expect the Oct 26th event will be short on details (we don’t expect details on pricing or delivery date) and long on the opportunity. That opportunity is ripe for Tesla’s taking, considering legacy truck manufacturers’ past struggles with innovation.
In his 2016 memo, Master Plan, Part Deux, Musk elaborates on this vision (which we detail here) and explains Tesla’s ambition to “expand to cover the major forms of terrestrial transport.” This includes heavy-duty trucks and high passenger-density urban transport, among others. By electrifying more forms of transportation (roughly 30% of our energy consumption), Tesla would advance their vision of accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy. Although many of the details surrounding the truck have yet to surface, the implications are clear – and they are widespread.
The trucking industry is downright massive. Upending an industry with such deep roots that touches a sizable portion of our economic activity is not a simple or a swift process, but its core elements are ripe for today’s disruptive forces. Let’s put the industry into perspective:
Trucks move roughly 70% of the nation’s freight by weight, and 82% of it by value. It takes 54.3 billion gallons of fuel to move this freight each year. It employs 7.3 million people, 6% of the U.S. working population, or 1 in 17 workers. Truck driver is the most common profession in 29 of 50 states. As of 2016 there were 1.5 million trucking companies in the country, 97% of which operate fewer than 20 trucks.
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