Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla Inc (TSLA.O), has said little about how he plans to turn his prototype electric truck into reality.
But Reuters has learned that Tesla is collaborating with Anheuser-Busch (ABI.BR), PepsiCo (PEP.O) and United Parcel Service Inc (UPS.N) to build on-site charging terminals at their facilities as part of the automaker’s efforts to roll out the vehicle next year.
Details of the partnerships, which have not been disclosed previously, are still being hammered out, but include design and engineering from Tesla, the companies said. They declined to disclose what portion of the building costs, if any, Tesla would pay, or whether Tesla would be compensated for its work.
The firms are among nine major corporations that have placed pre-orders for Tesla’s truck, dubbed the Semi.
With questions swirling over whether Tesla can make good on its aggressive timetable, news of the collaboration is a sign that corporate customers are taking the effort seriously, and that Tesla is working to solve one of the biggest impediments: keeping the big-rigs powered.
Tesla already operates more than 1,100 “supercharger” stations globally for drivers of its passenger cars. Musk has spoken publicly of doing something similar for its heavy-duty trucks by installing a network of solar-powered “megachargers” that could juice up a Semi battery in 30 minutes.
AUTOMAKER OR ENERGY SUPPLIER?
Tesla in November unveiled its prototype Semi with the aim of upending the trucking industry. At a splashy event in Hawthorne, California, Musk said the sleek, battery-powered cab could achieve up to 500 miles on a single charge, and be faster, cleaner and cheaper to operate than conventional diesels.
Ian Wright, a Tesla co-founder who now runs his own company making electric powertrains for industrial trucks, is skeptical that truck charging stations can be a big money maker for Tesla.