Will Tesla Semi Truck Dramatically Change the Trucking Industry?

Autopilot, Electric Trucks, Elon Musk, Full Self-Driving, Tesla, Tesla Semi, Trucking, Trucking Insurance, Trucks

Major changes have been ongoing lately in the trucking industry, which actually began roughly a century ago. With the upcoming Tesla Semi truck, we believe there will be drastic changes coming to the trucking industry.

There are numerous reports indicating technological changes that are helping the trucking and delivery businesses. But in our experience, most people that we asked about it focus on the potential negatives rather than looking for opportunities.

Those noticeable points paint a much bigger-picture than most comments on the Tesla Semi and other related vehicles. Almost every major manufacturer of commercial vehicles, including Class 8 trucks, is getting in the automation and electrification game. Companies like Tesla and Nikola, are actually side-players compared to the already-established heavy-duty builders like Paccar (Kenworth, Peterbilt), Daimler and Volvo. Even manufacturers like Cummins are working with alternatives to petroleum-burning drivetrains.

Tesla Semi Truck Event

The stakes are gigantic. As indicated by the American Trucking Associations, more than 70 percent of the cargo (by tonnage) transported in the United States is moved by truck. This is around ten and a half billion tons of cargo moved around the U.S. yearly and around 3.6 million Class 8 trucks on the road pulling that cargo.

Is Electricity Revolutionizing The Trucking Industry?

The electrification of trucks is a major advancement. It won’t happen really fast, yet it will happen eventually. Precisely how fast the electrification comes, will rely on plenty of things. It could be the battery-powered Tesla Semi or it could be the hydrogen fuel cell-run Toyota-Kenworth collaboration. Or then again any blend of things, including the range-extending turbine proposed for the original Nikola design or that of Capstone.

Whatever the arrangements are, cargo pulling trucks of all sizes are going to become electric. Why? For a similar reason, they all went to diesel a couple of decades back. It’s more proficient and hence less expensive. Before diesel, we were powering most trucks by gas and they were extremely inefficient, pulling less getting horrible fuel economy. Diesel itself saw many changes after some time as the engines it powered enhanced and emissions dropped. At present, trucks use around 38 billion gallons of fuel a year. At four dollars a gallon, that is about $152 billion in fuel. With electricity, expenses could be a fraction of diesel. Even in worst-case assumptions, a fourth of the cost. More idealistic numbers would place it in the 1/16th to 1/8th fractions.

tesla interior front

Tesla Semi Truck Interior

The benefits of autonomous self-driving or driving assist technologies are considerably higher. In trucking, the highest cost to the trucking company is the person in the driver’s seat with wages, benefits, legalities, and downtime. A truck driver can legally drive for 11 hours each day and most drivers drive around 600 miles every day. An autonomous truck could drive every minute of every day, stopping just to load/unload or refuel. With self-driving trucks, we will take care of driver deficiencies, which has plagued the trucking industry for a long time.

Will Truck Drivers Lose Their Jobs?

Truck drivers will lose jobs, yes. Eventually. Keep in mind that, we’re talking a long time here, not years. Whenever (not if) automated trucks take control as the main part of the business’ methods for moving cargo, most drivers will be required to find new professions. We must remember, in any case, that labor force with little formal training and mostly on-the-job experience essentially makes up trucking.

The more experienced drivers normally request higher wages. The most skilled workers in trucking tend to be those nearest to retirement. Substitutions for those talented drivers are new drivers who’ve finished maybe three weeks of trucking school and a month of over-the-road training with a slightly more skilled driver as a mentor. This doesn’t make trucking a simple and easy job, yet it means that those with the most skills and experience are the least likely to lose their jobs when automation becomes the norm.

Autopilot, Electric Trucks, Elon Musk, Full Self-Driving, Tesla, Tesla Semi, Trucking, Trucking Insurance, Trucks

Tesla Semi Truck Interior

We can argue endlessly, writing about the feasibility of the Tesla Semi Truck and Elon Musk’s guarantees for its capabilities. Whether Tesla delivers on those guarantees is disputable; as we realize that somebody, somewhere, and at some point, will deliver on similar promises in any case. The trucking business is experiencing another sea change. Those in technology, used to a new iPhone every year, who tweet about cryptocurrencies, might consider a decade or two as a long time to wait. Those in manufacturing and transportation, see twenty years as a single generation and their version of 2.0 has enormous economic impacts on the nation’s and world’s economies.

The trucking business realizes that electrification and automation are coming. Quick. The Tesla Semi could possibly physically bring that revolution, but it certainly does symbolize it.

 

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