The Tesla Semi may not make it to the news as much as the electric car maker's mainstream vehicles like the Model 3 and the Model Y, but the all-electric Class 8 truck has the potential to give Tesla billions upon billions worth of revenue. This is because, from a strictly objective point of view, there are very few reasons why businesses would not purchase a Tesla Semi.
Tesla's all-electric truck is equipped with a lot of compelling features that make it a preferable alternative to traditional diesel and gas-powered freighters. Its environmental impact is no joke considering that petrol-powered long-haul trucks account for a significant part of the transportation sector's emissions. Even if the Semi's environmental impact were ignored, the all-electric freighters' would still likely attract businesses with its robust suite of features and low operating costs.
Operating a fleet of long haul trucks is an expensive endeavor, from fuel costs to the vehicles' maintenance needs. Parts such as brake pads also need replacement regularly. These expenses pile up over the years as each petrol truck gets deployed. Operating expenses on the Tesla Semi are far lower. Even if the trucks themselves are generally more expensive than diesel and gas trailers at about $150,000-$180,000 per unit, Tesla estimates that the vehicle will give owners about $200,000 in savings from fuel costs alone. This means that the payback period of the Semi could be as short as two years.
But its cost-efficiency is just one of its advantages. The Semi is filled to the brim with features, from its standard Autopilot system to its proprietary Convoy Mode, which would allow multiple trucks to travel as a group semi-autonomously. Very little is known about Convoy Mode since Elon Musk mentioned the feature during the Semi's unveiling, but concept videos shared by the company feature one manned truck leading two unmanned vehicles on a route. This could be a game-changer, and it could only result in even more cost savings for fleet operators.
As noted by Tesla enthusiast and retail investor Steve Mark Ryan of YouTube's Solving the Money Problem, these savings and advantages make the Semi very attractive to businesses. In the world of trucking, optimization is king, and the company that can operate at the lowest costs wins. Ryan estimates that if Tesla sells about 100,000 Semis a year at an average price of $165,000 per vehicle--which would be the "short-range" 300-mile variant with options--the company would have around $16.5 billion in revenue from the truck alone.
If Tesla can sell 200,000 Semis a year--which is feasible if the truck becomes a success--the company can see $33 billion of revenue from the vehicle alone. That's more than Tesla's entire revenue in 2019 from the Model S, Model X, and Model 3. The Semi is something that is rarely addressed today, but the Semi is huge, and it can very well be Tesla's biggest disruptor. Perhaps this is the reason why, even in the depths of Twitter in the TSLAQ sphere, the Semi is mostly ignored or denied altogether, with bears insisting that the truck will never be produced. But the Semi is coming, and if recent messages from Tesla are any indication, it will likely start limited production later this year.
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Longtime writer and news/book editor. Writing about Tesla allows me to contribute something good to the world, while doing something I love.