At the Tesla Semi truck launch in Hawthorne, California, last fall, CEO Elon Musk made passing reference to a planned network of high-capacity charging stations that would eventually be put in place to recharge his electric trucks and extend their daily range. Details on that network were sparse, however.
Now, Reuters has learned that Musk and Tesla are collaborating with several logistics leaders in North America to put the beginnings of that charging network in place. According to a report from Reuters, Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo and United Parcel Service are working with the electric truck builder to construct on-site charging terminals at their facilities as Tesla ramps up production of its new truck next year. These firms are among nine major logistics providers in North America that have placed pre-orders for the new electric truck.
According to the report, details of the deal are still under negotiation, but will include design and engineering input from Tesla. Reuters notes that the agreement bolsters Musk’s claims that Tesla can put a charging network in place in time to support the new truck, and is, in fact, working to overcome one of the most widely cited shortcomings in his publicly stated plans for the Semi truck. The agreement is also a strong indication that Tesla truck customers are taking both the vehicle and its deployment seriously, and working with the company to ensure as smooth a launch as possible once the trucks enter production.
Reuters reports the companies it spoke to indicated their initial effort will be to install charging equipment on their own premises, with the first Tesla Semis deployed on routes that will return them to their home base at the end of a daily run, before the batteries run down.
Reuters also noted in the report that Tesla is also working on establishing its own network of electric truck stops, which will sell electric charges to truckers. Tesla already operates more than 1,100 “supercharger” stations globally for drivers of its passenger cars. Musk noted during the Semi launch last fall Tesla intends to construct a network of solar-powered “megachargers” that he said could recharge a Semi truck battery in as little as 30 minutes.
However, the report also noted that Tesla is “stretched thin and burning cash,” raising more questions as to how quickly the company is capable of putting the planned truck-oriented charging network in place. Some analysts and trucking executives, the report adds, doubt that Tesla can deliver the Semi in 2019, much less a vast charging infrastructure to support it.