At $180,000, Tesla’s Semi Could Be a Game-Changer for Trucking

November 25, 2017, 8:00 PM UTC

After its debut last week, we now have a price for Tesla’s all-electric freight truck. The company now says the Tesla Semi is expected to sell for $150,000 with a 300-mile range, and $180,000 with 500 miles of range. Those prices, though tentative, are substantially below expectations, and would make the Tesla Semi instantly competitive with gas-burning freight trucks.

According to an earlier in-depth analysis by The Verge, an average Class 8 truck costs around $120,000. That conventional truck burns about $70,000 of diesel fuel per year, costing about $0.54 per mile. By contrast, the Tesla Semi will consume less than 2kwh of electricity per mile, or about 26 cents based on the average cost of electricity in the U.S.

Tesla estimates that adds up to $200,000 in fuel savings over the life of the truck. Electric engines are also much cheaper to maintain than gas-burning engines.

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All in all, that could make an electric truck a no-brainer for trucking companies — especially compared to speculation that the 300-mile Semi would cost as much as $250,000. On the other hand, these numbers are listed as the “Expected Base Price,” so Tesla is giving itself some wiggle room.

And even with a 500-mile range, the Semi won’t be able to replace some cross-country trucks. Legally, commercial truckers can drive a maximum of 11 hours consecutively, or close to 800 miles at highway speeds. For many truckers, every moment spent fueling is income lost, and even Tesla’s announced “megachargers” will take 30 minutes to refill 400 miles worth of energy — substantially longer than an old-fashioned diesel fill up.

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