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November 17, 2017 2:45 PM, EST
Wal-Mart Joins Retailers Planning to Try Out Tesla Truck
Tesla

Customers are starting to place orders for Tesla Inc.’s new all-electric Semi truck, with retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. preordering for both its U.S. and Canadian units.

“We have a long history of testing new technology -- including alternative-fuel trucks -- and we are excited to be among the first to pilot this new heavy-duty electric vehicle,” Wal-Mart spokesman Kory Lundberg said in an email. “We believe we can learn how this technology performs within our supply chain, as well as how it could help us meet some of our long-term sustainability goals, such as lowering emissions.”

While electric passenger cars get all the buzz, the move to electrify big rigs has been moving swiftly under the radar, given their high emissions profiles and hefty fuel costs. Adding autonomous features on top of electrification can also help operators save on labor costs, a major upheaval for a commercial trucking industry that’s gone virtually unchanged for decades.

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Lundberg said Wal-Mart has preordered five of the electric trucks for the U.S. and 10 for Canada.

Meijer Inc. has reserved four Semi trucks for $5,000 deposits apiece, Dan Scherer, a fleet manager for the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based retailer, said after the product’s unveiling Thursday at Tesla’s design studio near Los Angeles. He said the closely held company operates 220 trucks in six states in the Midwest.

“Electric drivetrains are a proven technology,” Scherer said in an interview. “Electricity is cheaper fuel than diesel, and you are less dependent on the spot pricing of fossil fuel.”

J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. placed a reservation to buy multiple Tesla Semi tractors, the company said in a statement Friday. The Lowell, Arkansas-based logistics company said it will deploy the trucks on the West Coast.

“Reserving Tesla trucks marks an important step in our efforts to implement industry-changing technology,” said Chief Executive Officer John Roberts. “We believe electric trucks will be most beneficial on local and dray routes, and we look forward to utilizing this new, sustainable technology.”