TESLA Semi vs. traditional vehicles – results of the analysis carried out by ROHLIG SUUS Logistics

Elon Musk, a renowned visionary and entrepreneur, disclosed the price of the first electrical HGV with a semi-trailer that may compete in the future with traditional vehicles that fall short in terms of environmental friendliness. The vehicle is supposed to reach the production stage in 2019 and to go on sale in 2020. Is the Tesla Semi HGV really going to revolutionise the road transport market?

According to the manufacturer, this vehicle is going to be available in three varieties. The least expensive variety, with range of up to 480 km per full charge will cost 150 000 USD, which is slightly more than 530 000 PLN. The variety able to travel about 800 km per full charge will cost as much as 180 000 USD, which is over 637 000 PLN. The most expensive, limited variety - Founders Series - requires payment in advance of 200 000 USD, which equates to about 708 000 PLN.

For the purposes of domestic carriage in the Polish market, carriers usually purchase 8-10year-old vehicles. That is why it is hard to expect a mass purchase craze in Poland with regard to Tesla's HGVs, which will cost over 50% more than the current most popular tractors purchased at dealerships of brands such as DAF or MAN. "The cost of popular 8-10-year-old vehicles is about 80-100 thousand PLN and in such cases, a Tesla is at least 5 times as expensive and this is even before counting the costs of importing such a vehicle to Poland," says Janusz Nóżka, Fleet Director at ROHLIG SUUS Logistics.

According to Tesla, the higher purchase prices of their vehicles - compared to traditional vehicles - will be offset by their low maintenance costs. The manufacturer underlines that the total maintenance cost of their HGV on the US market is supposed to be 20% lower than in the case of a diesel engine vehicle. Although the high price initially seems to be a significant barrier for an electric HGV's entry into the Polish market, the analysis of all of its operation parameters shows that it is actually quite advantageous.

In order to check what the actual costs of purchase and maintenance of an electric HGV are, ROHLIG SUUS Logistics decided to carry out a comparative analysis taking into consideration the situation in Poland. The situation in which Tesla Semi features, among others, all of the certifications required, has been adjusted to transporting goods on European roads and can be purchased in Poland was assumed. Additionally, it was assumed that the availability of maintenance service and spare parts for the new vehicle are the same as in the case of popular tractor units. The analysis took into account factors such as the purchase price of both vehicles, the costs of fuel/electricity consumption or the vehicles’ technical maintenance costs.

"What deserves particular attention is the fuel consumption costs, which are significantly lower in the case of Tesla's HGV than in the case of a traditional vehicle," summarises Piotr Iwo Chmielewski, Corporate Development Director of ROHLIG SUUS Logistics. "Driving a distance of 100 kilometres in an electric HGV is over 60% less expensive and amounts to 42.50 PLN, in comparison to 112 PLN in the case of a traditional one," he underlines. Furthermore, according to the manufacturer's declarations, using an electric HGV practically eliminates the costs of periodic inspections (fluids, filters) and, additionally, reduces other technical costs, such as the replacement of brake discs and pads by around 20%.

"Taking into account the average freight rates in domestic transport, the payoff period in the case of purchasing popular HGVs is estimated to be about 11-13 years. The savings that Tesla's electric HGV generates can shorten this period to less than 8 years, and this is without taking into account any additional tax incentives that one can expect the Polish government or the EU to offer for purchasing electric vehicles," comments Piotr Iwo Chmielewski.

Janusz Nóżka mentions that he notices a real opportunity for the Tesla's electric HGV in view of the expected limitations for traditional vehicle traffic that are certainly going to force businesses to look for alternative solutions. "Such actions have already been undertaken, for example by the public transport companies that have started investing in electric buses. In Warsaw alone, 160 such buses will have been in operation by 2020," he continues, and adds: "For now, we consider the manufacturer's declarations promising. What is going to undergo a true test, however, is the manufacturing capabilities of Tesla, which have been severely questioned, as well as the realities of carriage in Poland and the financial capabilities of local carriers."