Hot on the heels of Tesla’s big event last night, Walmart says it has preordered 15 of the electric automaker’s new semi trucks, according to CNBC. The deal was likely in the works before Tesla unveiled its new truck to the public, but interest from the world’s biggest retailer in battery-powered transport is still a huge boost of confidence for Elon Musk and his mission to electrify the industry.
The pilot is planned for the US and Canada. Five of the preordered vehicles will be for Walmart’s US business, and 10 will be for its Canadian routes, the company said. Walmart's fleet has about 6,000 trucks.
"We have a long history of testing new technology – including alternative-fuel trucks – and we are excited to be among the first to pilot this new heavy-duty electric vehicle," the company said in a statement. “We believe we can learn how this technology performs within our supply chain, as well as how it could help us meet some of our long-term sustainability goals, such as lowering emissions.” (A Tesla spokesperson declined to comment on its customers.)
Musk said the truck would enter production in 2019. Trucking industry veterans are watching closely to see how Tesla addresses some of the big hurdles in its path, such as per-mile cost, gaps in EV charging infrastructure, and maintenance issues.
Walmart wasn’t the only one to preorder Tesla’s new truck right out of the gate. JB Hunt Transport Services, a 56-year-old company based in Arkansas, said it had reserved “multiple” new Tesla trucks as well. "We believe electric trucks will be most beneficial on local and dray routes, and we look forward to utilizing this new, sustainable technology," John Roberts, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.