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Tesla electric truck sparks debate

Tesla’s semi-trailer electric truck prototype unveiling in September is nearing, prompting a debate on the potential for alternate fuels to disrupt the commercial transport industry.

Technical Consultant, Randy Carlson, has said that Tesla might ‘disrupt another industry’ if it can lower the ‘cost per mile’ with its electric truck prototype, according to Seeking Alpha, a crowd-sourced content service for financial markets.

“If Tesla achieves a low cost of acquisition and low operating costs as it appears it may be able to, then the highly cost sensitive trucking industry can be expected to switch to Tesla trucks, or similar offerings from others,” said Carlson.

“The difficulty for established truck makers, should Tesla's truck be a success, will be similar to the problem legacy ICE car makers are facing with the advent of practical, good performing electric cars.

“In the case of heavy trucks, however, the shift in market demand – driven largely by economic considerations – could be much more abrupt. This could leave legacy truck makers scrambling for three things: High speed, compact, liquid cooled induction motor drivelines, sufficient cell supply to build lots of trucks with huge batteries, and charging or battery swapping infrastructure to support their electric truck models in service.”

“All of the things legacy truck makers need to compete in electric line-haul heavy trucks are things Tesla is good at, things where Tesla holds a lead in technology, manufacturing or capacity. And, when it comes to cell supply and electric driveline engineers, carmakers scrambling to enter the electric car arena will be competing for those assets, too.”

Other commentators have discussed the hindrances of battery-powered heavy vehicles.

US-based attorney, John Petersen, has said that “battery-powered semi-tractors may be useful in low-speed, short-haul duty cycles, but they can’t work in high-speed, long-haul duty cycles because the batteries are too bulky, heavy and expensive.”

Former analyst, Anton Wahlman, has compared hydrogen fuel cells to as an alternative fuel source for trucks.

“For all the optimism about battery-electric trucks, Toyota may have them all beat, however – with a hydrogen fuel cell truck. And it does so by not adding weight to this new type of powertrain and fuelling technology.”

Carlson thinks that “Tesla investors will want to pay close attention in September” to see how Tesla’s electric truck will compete.

“The bottom line for Tesla is that successful entry to the heavy truck market with an electric truck offers an opportunity to grow the business very significantly,” he said.

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