August 11, 2023

PepsiCo praises Tesla Semi’s performance on long-haul, regional loads


PepsiCo’s fleet of all-electric Class 8 Semi trucks from Tesla are quiet, smooth and comfortable, while achieving ranges of up to 450 miles a day, according to a recent video from the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE).

NAFCE profiled PepsiCo’s distribution center in Sacramento, California, providing new details about the performance of the global beverage maker’s fleet of 21 Tesla Semi trucks. The video is part of NAFCE’s Run on Less — Electric Depot campaign, which aims to showcase how electric trucks can decarbonize the commercial road transport sector.

PepsiCo received the 21 Semi trucks from Tesla in December with the help of a $31 million grant from the California Air Resources Board.

Officials for PepsiCo said the Semi trucks are being used for both regional and long-haul deliveries across Northern California.

“Out of our 21 assets of the Tesla Semis that we have here, three of them are dedicated to the long haul, over-the-road routes,” Dejan Antunovic, PepsiCo’s electrification program manager, said in the video. “The routes may change or may vary between 250 miles up to 450 miles. We have been aggressive to push the limit and demonstrate that we are able to achieve a very high range with a fully loaded tractor with the Semi fleet.”

Amanda Devoe, transformation and strategy director for PepsiCo Fleet, said the Semi trucks are powered by four 750-kW chargers, which are also being used to charge electric yard tractors, lithium-battery-operated forklifts and a fleet of Ford eTransit service vans at the distribution center.

“Because the good majority of our business is anchored and going to market, we deliver predominantly under 100 miles on a daily basis and run those vehicles around 12 hours a day,” Devoe said. “Within that duty cycle, we feel that the battery-electric vehicle is most advantageous and our decarbonization strategy.”

Austin, Texas-based Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) is slowly ramping up production orders of the long-delayed Semi. Tesla pitched the Semi as an all-electric Class 8 truck that would have a range of 500 miles fully charged, with a load capacity of 81,000 pounds.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company doesn’t expect to begin large-scale production of the Semi truck until the end of 2024.

The Semi trucks Pepsi received are part of an order for 100 Tesla Semis the company placed in 2017. Other companies waiting for Semi truck orders include Walmart, FedEx and J.B. Hunt.

Pepsi drivers praised the comfort and performance of the Semi.

“We get questions every time we go to a different facility,” Rhianna Castro said. “People see us long-haul drivers there and they ask questions and I tell them it’s so comfortable, it’s so easy to drive. You’re so close to the front of the tractor, your visibility is amazing.”

Another driver said the Semi truck is easier to drive than she anticipated.

“There’s no switches and gauges in the cab of the truck, so I had to strictly go off the monitors,” Casey Thijon said. “Within a half-hour I was comfortable with it. If you know how to use a smartphone, then you can easily operate one of these trucks. The turn radius is awesome. It’s better than in my car and a lot more comfortable and quieter.”

Watch: Diesel fuel prices rise to an average of $4.24 per gallon.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Noi Mahoney.

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NOVEMBER 7-9, 2023 • CHATTANOOGA, TN • IN-PERSON EVENT

The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.



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