- Reuters/Mike Blake
- Tesla says that in autonomous convoys, moving freight using its new Tesla Semis would cost less than using railroads.
- Convoys would consist of a lead Semi with several others following autonomously.
- “This beats rail,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said at an event Thursday.
HAWTHORNE, California – On Thursday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk didn’t just announce his plans to remake the trucking industry. He also served notice to rail carriers.
Unveiling Tesla’s new Semi Truck, Musk crunched the numbers for the agog crowd: A traditional diesel truck can be operated for $1.51 a mile; the Tesla Semi, he said, beats that with $1.26.
But it gets better. Using convoys – Tesla Semis yoked together with connected Autopilot technology, operating like road-going trains, with one semi as the leader – Tesla’s cost drops to $0.85 a mile.
“This beats rail,” Musk said.
He said Tesla could execute on convoying technology now, so it’s really just a matter of a customer buying enough Semis to create the train.
Obviously, rail still has some advantages, such as being able to operate at relatively high continuous speed without stopping over great distances and without needing to refuel. Rail also saves wear and tear on roadways.
But Tesla’s freight economics are starting to look quite impressive.