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September 4, 2018 3:30 PM, EDT

Tesla Class 8 Prototype Crosses Country, Stops at Ruan

Tesla Semi Tesla Semi (Alexis Georgeson/Tesla Motors)

Officials at transportation service company Ruan got a chance to see Tesla Inc.’s prototype battery-electric heavy-duty truck, which toured the country recently, stopping at some carriers that have placed orders for the truck that is scheduled for fleet testing in 2019.

The trucks were charged along the way using Tesla’s existing network of Supercharger stations that service its cars. Tesla expects a 300- or 500-mile range for the trucks, varying by model.

Ruan has reserved five trucks.

“We are excited to have an opportunity to experience the new electric semis. The reservation of these vehicles is part of Ruan’s sustainability efforts and commitment to providing our customers and professional drivers with the best technology available,” said James Cade, vice president of fleet services.

The price per vehicle is estimated at $180,000. Most diesel-powered tractors cost around $100,000, but Tesla predicts that the electric vehicle will pay for itself within two years due to savings in aerodynamics, reliability and fuel. The trucks are expected to be similar in weight to a diesel truck. Some specifics, such as the total operating cost, are still unavailable, according to Ruan, a Des Moines, Iowa-based carrier that provides dedicated contract carriage, among other supply chain solutions.

“We will continue to be involved with the team at Tesla as they introduce the trucks to the market,” said Cade. “We will work with them directly to ensure the vehicles will serve us and our customers to the level we both expect.”

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During its second-quarter earnings call, Tesla executives were asked whether its Semi models would be produced at its Gigafactory 1 plant near Reno, Nev., and will there be any manufacturing synergies between the Semi and Tesla’s Model 3?

“It gets so much attention, where we put production. So I can’t answer any, like, where we’re going to put production questions. Will the Semi use a bunch of Model 3 technology? The answer is yes [door handles, motors, screens, battery cell technology],” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said during the call.

The truck will come equipped with Tesla’s remote maintenance and diagnostics capabilities that includes the timeline of needed repairs, allowing teams to plan for scheduled upkeep. Those collision mitigation systems are also said to be coming on the Tesla Semi. Those features include automatic emergency braking, jackknife prevention, forward collision warning and automatic lane-keeping capabilities. Other announced features include a near-infinite brake life and a drivetrain guarantee of 1 million miles, according to Ruan.

“But there are some changes and I’d rather not make that public. Yeah, obviously it’s going to be better than what we showed last year. There is a lot of improvements,” Jerome Guillen, vice president of trucks and programs at Tesla, said during the call with financial analysts.

RELATED: Tesla’s Cobalt-Light Batteries Seen Providing Cost Advantage

Other fleets on the tour included J.B. Hunt and UPS Inc., according to news reports.

UPS plans to have 25% of its vehicles purchased annually by 2025 be alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles.

UPS ranks No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

J.B.Hunt ranks No. 4 on the for-hire TT100, and Ruan is No. 41.