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December 20, 2017 12:15 PM, EST

UPS Orders 125 Tesla Semi-Trucks

Elon Musk unveils the new semiSeth Clevenger/Transport Topics

The market for the Tesla Class 8 truck keeps growing as UPS Inc. put in an order for 125 electric trucks, the largest order to date that has been made public.

Tesla has already received multiple orders for the truck, which was launched in mid-November in Hawthorne, Calif. Announced orders include 40 by Anheuser-Busch, 100 by PepsiCo Inc., 50 by Sysco Co. and 15 by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Fleet operators such as J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., NFI Industries and Bison Transport Inc. and retailers Meijer and Loblaw Cos. confirmed that they have pre-ordered the truck or plan to do so.

The base price for a tractor with a 300-mile range will be $150,000, while the anticipated base price for the version with a 500-mile range will be $180,000. The base reservation for the vehicle, which is scheduled to enter production in 2019, is listed at $20,000.

The Tesla Semi is powered by a battery pack and four independent electric motors on the drive axles. Tesla said its semi will provide $200,000 or more in fuel savings and a pay-back period of two years.

Along with the all-electric powertrain, the Tesla Semi features such next-level automated driving technology as active steering, automatic lane keeping, automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warnings, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said at the unveiling.

The challenge for electric vehicles is the limited range and dearth of charging options. Tesla has been putting together a national charging system for its cars. And Musk said at the launch that he is looking at a “megacharger” network that could fast charge the trucks.

UPS has been an active buyer of alternative fuel trucks, including those using electric, natural gas, propane and other fuels.