The Tesla Semi and Cybertruck have allowed the company to enter the commercial vehicle market, but the EV automaker may have more competition in this sector of the car industry than in others. Since clean energy vehicles are becoming more of the norm, hydrogen fuel cell and battery-powered commercial vehicles have become popular as well.
FreightWaves suggested that new clean-energy commercial vehicles would be classified into four categories, namely: pickup and delivery, regional delivery, dockside applications, and heavy-duty pickup and delivery.
Tesla’s Cybertruck would probably fit into the first category, pickup and delivery. There are many benefits to switching to electric vehicles in this category, like ample storage space. The Cybertruck has already gained much attention as a commercial vehicle since its unveiling. Popular brands, like Crunch, have already plastered their names on Tesla’s all-electric pickup truck.
Meanwhile, the Tesla Semi would do well in the other three categories. The stats of Tesla’s heavy-duty Class 8 truck are quite impressive. The Semi’s trump card might be its range, which is 300 to 500 miles per charge. It's a Class 8 vehicle too, so it will be capable of transporting large amounts of cargo on the road.
The Cybertruck and Semi are both as impressive as Tesla’s other vehicles. However, they may have more competition than the Models S, 3, X, and Y in the commercial vehicle market.
In the private commercial car market, a couple of legacy automakers have tried to release EVs that could compete with Tesla’s vehicles. However, their attempts are feeble at best. So far, only a handful of car companies attempt to produce a well-made electric vehicle with sincerity. Most of them aren’t legacy automakers like BMW. They are usually fairly new car companies—when compared to the more prominent ones—like BYD.
In the commercial vehicle market, Tesla’s Cybertruck will be vying for the piece of the pie against companies like Change Energy, which is backed by China, or Rivian, which has Amazon’s support.
The Semi is in the same situation. In each category, Tesla’s Class 8 truck has some fierce competition. For instance, in the regional delivery department, there is Freightliner and Daimler.
Based on a study by M.A. Mortenson, interest in sustainable commercial vehicles has increased in fleet owners. The study concentrated on electric vehicle industry trends.
For the study, Mortenson interviewed 200 professionals at the forefront of clean transportation during the 2019 Advanced Clean Transportation Expo to understand the transition from conventional combustion to clean energy vehicles. From its pool of participants, Mortenson found that 90 percent of fleet owners did or planned to do a feasibility study on electrification, revealing their interest in transitioning to clean energy commercial vehicles.
According to those who took Mortenson’s survey, 48 percent of fleets will be made of sustainable vehicles in 5 to 7 years. The study also showed that there was a preference for electric commercial vehicles.
The results of Mortenson’s study prove that there is a decent amount of interest in sustainable commercial vehicles. It also revealed that a large number of fleet owners believe the transition for durable commercial vehicles is imminent. Infrastructure seems to be the one factor that appears to be preventing the transition from happening sooner.
Range-anxiety is a real concern for any clean-energy vehicle, even for all-electric battery-powered vehicles. Infrastructure was the number one concern of participants in Mortenson’s study because it will be the foundation of any fleet of sustainable commercial vehicles. So, infrastructure could determine the viability of say, an all-electric fleet.
Tesla is probably the one company right now with the proper infrastructure to sustain a sustainable commercial fleet. How much of an advantage Tesla’s Supercharging Network will be in the commercial vehicle market is yet to be seen.
However, batteries seem to be another concern for Tesla’s competitors in the sustainable commercial vehicle market. Batteries cells are yet another factor the Elon Musk-led company has an advantage over its competitors.
Based on the concern for infrastructure and battery life, it seems that the primary power source to keep clean-energy commercial vehicles running will decide the future of the burgeoning market. Fortunately for Tesla, these are two areas that it has so far excelled in.
Featured Image Credit: Tesla