Snack and beverage giant PepsiCo Inc. said Tuesday that it plans to acquire 100 electric Tesla Semi trucks, adding to the list of high-profile companies that have ordered the new equipment as part of a strategy to reduce fuel costs and fleet emissions.
Pepsi will use the battery-powered tractors for shipments between its manufacturing and distribution facilities, and for deliveries to retailers within the truck's top range of 500 miles, Pepsi spokeswoman Alexia Allina said in an email. The company will initially use the vehicles to haul lightweight loads such as food snacks and for short-haul shipments of heavier cargo like beverages.
The electric trucks will join Purchase, N.Y.-based Pepsi's U.S. fleet of nearly 10,000 conventional diesel-powered trucks. Pepsi produces brands such as Mountain Dew and Pepsi sodas, Gatorade sports drinks, Doritos chips, and Quaker Oats breakfast cereal.
Pepsi's announcement marks the largest publicly disclosed order of the electric truck since Tesla founder Elon Musk unveiled the model Nov. 17. Large fleet operators such as J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Ryder System Inc., and Schneider Inc. have taken a somewhat cautious approach, paying $20,000 deposits to reserve Tesla trucks in unspecified numbers. Last week, beer giant Anheuser-Busch, a unit of Belgian brewer AB InBev, and food service company Sysco Corp. placed orders for 40 and 50 of the vehicles, respectively.
Tesla plans to begin production in 2019, delivering a $150,000 model with a 300-mile range and a $180,000 model with a 500-mile range.
Tesla truck prices are considerably higher than the typical price tag for a traditional diesel-powered tractor. However, the Palo Alto-based company has said buyers can justify the cost premium through fuel savings, improved reliability, and the truck's autonomous driving capabilities. The Tesla Semi supports operation in platoon mode, allowing multiple trucks to improve their aerodynamics by drafting in quick succession, using precision telematics and wireless communications to follow a human driver in a lead vehicle.