U.S. electric car maker Tesla confirmed on Tuesday that it will build a new factory in northern Nevada dedicated to the production of the electric heavy-duty Semi.
The $3.6 billion (currently about 24.408 billion yuan) investment also includes the construction of a new battery factory to produce the company’s most advanced batteries, Tesla said. The move by Tesla will put pressure on traditional truck makers like Daimler and Volvo, which are just starting to sell electric trucks.
Tesla will reportedly build two new factories at the existing Tesla site east of Reno, Nevada, which is expected to add 3,000 employees.
Tesla unveiled its Semi electric heavy-duty truck in 2017, but so far capacity has been limited. Building new factories shows that Tesla is serious about this electric heavy-duty truck. Last December, Tesla delivered several trucks to PepsiCo, its first customer for the Semi electric heavy-duty truck.
Traditional truck makers such as Daimler, Volvo and Volkswagen’s Trauton have all said they are also committed to producing zero-carbon emission trucks.
For now diesel trucks still dominate the industry. If the Tesla Semi electric heavy-duty truck can succeed in the market, it could put more pressure on traditional truck makers. The success of Tesla’s electric vehicles has already forced General Motors, Ford, Volkswagen and other traditional automakers to launch their own electric vehicles, thus disrupting the industry.
But it’s unclear how many truck buyers will switch to electric heavy-duty trucks at what rate. Truck owners tend to be particularly concerned about the cost of ownership of the vehicles they buy, carefully calculating the cost of fuel, maintenance and truck downtime. The Tesla Semi electric heavy-duty truck is likely to be more expensive than a conventional heavy-duty truck, and this electric heavy-duty truck will only be attractive if customers believe that the lower fuel and maintenance costs will make up the price difference.
Tesla claims that the Semi electric heavy truck has a range of 800 kilometers, which may make it best suited for relatively short operating routes. The Tesla truck charging network is not yet fully rolled out. Until then the Semi electric heavy truck is likely to be aimed primarily at truck customers who have direct access to the warehouse from the warehouse, allowing them to charge all night.
Daimler, which owns Freightliner Trucks, is banking on hydrogen fuel cells as the best way to eliminate long-haul truck emissions. Volvo, the world’s second-largest truck maker after Daimler, is pursuing a similar strategy. But neither company has started mass production of hydrogen-fueled trucks, and hydrogen is currently much more expensive than diesel.
On Monday, Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo mentioned Tesla’s decision to build an electric truck manufacturing plant there in a speech.