Tesla has another major backer for its electric truck. DHL, one of the world’s largest package delivery companies, announced Tuesday that it has ordered 10 Tesla Semi vehicles ahead of its 2019 launch, a signal that companies are warming to the idea of Elon Musk’s newest product.
“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,” the company said in a statement to Reuters.
The truck comes in two configurations depending on battery size. There’s a $150,000 model capable of driving 300 miles on a single charge, and there’s a 500-mile model that is expected to cost $180,000. When Elon Musk unveiled the vehicle at the Tesla Design Studio earlier this month, he touted the energy savings from the solar powered megachargers — expected to come in at $1.26 per mile, compared to $1.51 per mile for diesel — as a reason why the truck made sense.
“It’s not just economic suicide to use a diesel truck, it’s economic suicide for rail,” said Musk. “This beats rail. That’s really quite profound.”
It seems companies are cautiously agreeing with him. Alongside DHL, retailers Wal-Mart, Meijer and Loblaw have announced plans to test the vehicle, as well as carriers J.B. Hunt, Bison and NFI. Wal-Mart plans to order 15 trucks for its United States and Canada operations, while Loblaw will order 25 for use in Canada.
There is some uncertainty around whether Tesla’s vehicles can meet the needs of the industry. The Tesla Semi is two years away from hitting the roads, and in that time Musk will also need to make good on his promise to install a Megacharger every 400 miles for recharging in around half an hour.
Not everyone is entirely on board at this point. Meijer, for example, plans to conduct tests and “make a decision on whether we will complete the purchase.” The vehicle offers around half the range of a standard diesel truck, but Musk stressed that around 80 percent of trucking routes are 250 miles or fewer. Tests like Meijer’s will show whether the electric revolution has arrived for the trucking industry.