Originally published on CleanTechnica.
Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk recently unloaded a bit on Twitter, mostly owing to the rather strange criticism that he’s attracted from some in recent days for his willingness to provide advice to President Trump and to argue in-person for his causes … rather than to go the more common “clicktivist” route and simply complain on social media (or burn things down).
While the highly polarized, oversimplified thinking and lazy scapegoating that passes for political discourse (on both “sides”) right now is interesting, my reason for writing this article has nothing to do with that. … Amongst Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s many recent tweets was a response to a query about the company’s ongoing semi-truck development program that seems worth drawing attention to here.
While Tesla’s consumer electric vehicle efforts to date have been very impressive, and have been the primary driver of the whole electric vehicle industry over the past decade, personal vehicles only make up a limited fraction of overall transportation emissions. If Tesla is to truly have the impact that CEO Elon Musk seems to want it to have, then the trucking industry will need to go electric — as well as the personal/consumer vehicle industry.
Is this actually economically feasible, though? Could shipping via all-electric trucks eventually allow for rates as low as with modern diesel trucks? Or are the low freight shipping costs that we have now a one-time thing (only for as long as we have cheap diesel)? These are hard questions to answer if one is being honest, which is what makes Tesla’s efforts so interesting.
While the Tesla Model 3 is interesting, the company’s semi-truck development program grabs my attention much more so … which brings us back to Musk’s recent tweet:
Yes, but Model 3 is the overwhelming priority
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 5, 2017
While we already knew that the Model 3 was the company’s priority — the Model 3 is probably a make-or-break proposition for Tesla, after all — the tweet doesn’t suggest that Musk is particularly enthralled with how things are going with the semi-truck development. Though, maybe I’m misreading that — tone is hard to infer with just text.
What to make of this? If Tesla does manage to release a commercially compelling electric semi-truck offering, it seems that we’ve still got quite a wait ahead of us. Or at least that’s how I’m reading the situation anyways.
As some background, Tesla’s electric semi-truck development program is being headed by Jerome Guillen, the former head of Daimler’s plug-in hybrid semi-truck development program. Guillen was hired by Tesla back in 2012.
Reprinted with permission.