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Sysco Preorders 50 Tesla Semis, Adding to a Growing Wave

Tesla's new semi-truck will go into production in 2019, the company says. It was unveiled Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017 by CEO Elon Musk. Tesla's new semi-truck will go into production in 2019, the company says. It was unveiled Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017 by CEO Elon Musk.
Tesla's new semi-truck will go into production in 2019, the company says. It was unveiled Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017 by CEO Elon Musk. Courtesy of Tesla

The massive food wholesaler Sysco says it has preordered 50 Tesla Semis, the electric freight truck announced by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in November. The news follows preorders from other big players including Anheiser-Busch, Wal-Mart, and J.B. Hunt.

The preorders are rapidly making the case that the Tesla Semi could substantially reshape the trucking industry. In its announcement, Sysco reiterates Tesla’s claims that the Semi will deliver a better experience for drivers while reducing maintenance and fuel costs, on top of environmental benefits. The announcement also describes the reservations as beginning “the process of incorporating alternative-fuel trucks into [Sysco’s] fleet,” making it clear that this is not just a pilot program or a tentative test.

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As a food distributor, Sysco’s operation may be particularly friendly to incorporating the electric trucks, which will have a shorter range and longer refueling times than diesel-powered trucks. They will likely be well-suited to shorter trips between distribution centers and Sysco’s customers, such as restaurants, stadiums, universities and hotels. In addition to greenhouse gas impacts, switching urban deliveries to an electric platform could improve air quality in cities.

The reservation fee for the Semi is currently listed at $20,000, with the limited-edition Founders Series requiring a full $200,000 upfront payment. According to CleanTechnica, Sysco’s preorder brings the total tally to about 166 trucks.

Those preorder fees won’t put much of a dent in Tesla’s looming cash crunch. But they should provide a strong positive signal when Musk goes to investors looking for more funding to actually build the truck, which is slated to go into production in 2019.