Truckers Iffy about Electric Rigs

Trucking industry veterans are opining that all-electric trucks have the potential to save money for fleet operators, particularly if maintenance costs prove to be lower than diesel, but there are still some significant barriers to their adoption

Tesla's (NASDAQ: TSLA) Elon Musk unveiled an all-electric Class 8 vehicle, the heaviest weight classification for trucks, on Thursday. The Tesla Semi has a range of about 800 kilometres at maximum weight at highway speed, Musk said.

He promises to build a system of solar-powered megachargers that will recharge a truck in 30 minutes to give an additional 640 kilometres of range. The trucks would thus be low-emission.

Canadian grocer Loblaw (TSX: L), retailer Walmart (NYSE: WMT) and trucking giant J.B. Hunt (NASDAQ: JHBT) have already raised thumbs-up to the idea, ordering vehicles (which will be ready by 2019) to test in their fleets.

In Canada, the trucking industry is cautious about electric vehicles — not just Tesla's entry but also its potential competitors — but it may be ready for change, if the price is right

Range will be a key question for long-haul trucking, as will availability of recharging stations that can power up in a short time.

Tesla has not released the sticker price of the Semi but says it will be cheaper to operate because of lower fuel costs, cheaper maintenance and a transmission with no shifting and regenerative braking, adding up to lower brake costs.