Tesla's Semi Pricing Is Surprisingly Attractive to Trucking Industry

Upfront cost isn't the only thing that will drive electrified adoption in the short-haul trucking industry.

Tesla Semi
via Tesla

When Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that our minds would be blown with the introduction of the Semi, he wasn't kidding. The electrified vehicle industry isn't just stopping at consumer cars, the next target for many companies is none other than the short-haul trucking industry. Currently, at the center of the hype, is none other than EV manufacturer Tesla and its offering to the up and coming market. Despite the Semi reaching top-tier pricing, its overall savings per mile and feature-rich offerings appear to outweigh the initial bite of upfront costs.

The expected base price for the 300-mile range Semi is around $150,000 before any additional upgrades. If the consumer would opt for an additional 200 miles (bringing the total expected charge with trailer and load up to a staggering 500 miles), the price is raised to $180,000. Both of these can be reserved with a $20,000 deposit, however if opting for a Founders Edition, meaning that you cut in line for a "first edition" model, the $200,000 vehicle price must be paid in full to reserve the Semi.

It's important to note that these numbers are not set in stone, rather are anticipated prices set for the U.S. market. Depending on many factors, including the cost of adding additional equipment or luxuries to the Semi, may drive up the price.

These prices haven't stopped some of the larger names in short-haul trucking to become interested in the trucks. Companies like Walmart and J.B. Hunt have already put down reservations on a small number of Semis to test in their fleets, likely anticipating the cost savings of the electrified platform would outweigh the slight premium over the Semi's diesel-powered competitors.

Compared to a diesel-fueled counterpart, Tesla is on target for pricing its Semi similar to that of a high-end truck. Owner-operators can expect to spend anywhere from $80,000 to $150,000 and beyond on a new truck, all depending on the models and feature set that meets their needs. On the flip-side, Tesla also brags about the reliability of its offering to the market, claiming up to 1,000,000 miles of breakdown-free freight transport. Considering performance, efficiency, and purchase price, Tesla CEO Elon Musk claims a near 20% total cost of operations savings over a diesel truck, making the Semi $1.26 per mile to operate versus a standard truck's estimate of $1.51 per mile.

Tesla's solution is also attractive to fleet owners who require management solutions to monitor their fleet. Musk mentioned the ease of fleet management due to cloud-connected solutions baked into the truck, preventing the need of purchasing additional expensive hardware to manage a fleet of vehicles. It's unknown if Tesla will have a fleet management software suite, or if it will enable the use of an API for other vendors to "plug in" to the vehicle's data via the cloud, but the potential to save money for management overhead is easily observed. This is true especially when the cost of fleet management software can run anywhere from $200 to $400 per vehicle annually, depending on factors like fleet size, software options, and more.

Should Tesla be able to commit to its price figures, along with growing its Supercharing network to support the stunningly low charge times of reaching 400 miles in just 30 minutes, the industry may very well look towards electrification rather than push it away. Features like lane awareness and other autonomous controls will likely aide in cutting down not only safety issues on the road, but also costs such as insurance.