Following Tesla’s recent announcement of the intention to launch its all-electric semi truck later in September, CEO Elon Musk shared a teaser at last week’s annual TED Conference of what the planned semi truck may look like.
Describing it as a ‘heavy-duty, long-range semi truck’, Musk explained that the intention is to alleviate the heavy-duty trucking loads. The key differentiator seems to be that the Tesla semi truck will have a flat torque RPM curve with an electric motor, compared to a diesel motor or other internal combustion engine that has a torque RPM curve that looks like hill. “So this will be a very spry truck,” he said. “You can drive this around like a sports car.”
The concept of a heavy-duty truck that drives like a sports car using clean energy is irresistible, and, if it does tick all the aforementioned boxes, will without doubt disrupt the current fleet market. I think it’s important to consider the impact that electric vehicle technology will have on the fleet industry.
I can certainly foresee an advantage to using electric vehicles in populated areas. Generally, traditional engines perform best when running across long distances rather than stop-starting and idling in traffic. So, in more congested areas electric vehicles may perform better as there is a reduction in noise and air pollution and a greater availability of charging stations.
The main challenges for electric lorries will be their capacity for the long-distance travel. The capacity of the battery and availability of suitable charging stations will determine their success over long distances. This might be less of an issue in populated areas, where there are more charging points available but in more remote locations this will prove difficult with current infrastructure.
If Tesla does crack it with sexy, easy-to-drive lorries that drive sustainably, the fleet sector will never be the same. I’m watching with keen interest.