United Parcel Service Inc. said on Tuesday it is buying 125 Tesla Inc. all-electric tractors, which media reports said was the largest order thus far.
UPS has said it wants to expand its fleet of alternative-fuel vehicles.
Tesla is trying to convince the trucking community it can build an affordable electric big rig with the range and cargo capacity to compete with relatively low-cost, time-tested diesel trucks. This is the largest public order of the big rig so far, Tesla said.
The Tesla trucks will cost around $200,000 each for a total order of about $25 million, Automotive News reported. UPS expects the trucks to have a lower total cost of ownership than diesel-fueled vehicles, which run about $120,000.
Tesla has received pre-orders from such major companies as Walmart, J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., food service distributor Sysco Corp. DHL, Titanium Transportation Group and Fortigo Freight Services.
Prior to UPS, the largest single pre-order came from PepsiCo Inc., for 100 trucks.
UPS said it has provided Tesla with real-world routing information as part of its evaluation of the vehicle's expected performance.
"As with any introductory technology for our fleet, we want to make sure it's in a position to succeed," Scott Phillippi, UPS senior director for automotive maintenance and engineering for international operations, told Reuters.
Tesla also boasts that the truck’s built-in connectivity integrates directly with a fleet’s management system while other trucks “require several third-party devices for similar functionality.”
It will have Tesla's autopilot system, which can maintain a set speed and slow down automatically in traffic. It also has a system that automatically keeps the vehicle in its lane. Musk said several Tesla trucks will be able to travel in a convoy, autonomously following each other.
Without a trailer, the company said, the Tesla tractor goes from zero to 60 mph in 5 seconds, compared with 15 seconds in a comparable diesel truck.
It does zero to 60 mph in 20 seconds with a full 80,000-pound load, and climbs 5 percent grades at 65 mph. Four separate motors drive the four back wheels of the cab, giving it “sports car-like” handling, according to Tesla Motors.
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said November 16 when the vehicle was unveiled that Tesla plans a worldwide network of solar-powered “megachargers” that could get the trucks up to 400 miles of range after charging “for only 30 minutes,” The Associated Press reported.