Companies prepare for the Tesla Semi by building charging stations

Tesla Semi Truck

Just like the company’s electric cars, the Tesla Semi electric truck will need a network of charging stations. Tesla has been mum on details of a truck-charging network, but Reuters reports that some of the companies reserving Tesla Semis are planning to install charging stations at their terminals.

Tesla is collaborating with Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo, and the United Parcel Service to build the charging stations, according to Reuters. Details of the partnerships are still being worked out, but the plan is to have Tesla design and engineer the stations, the news service reported. It’s unclear whether Tesla will cover any installation costs, though.

Anheuser-Busch has reserved 40 Tesla Semis, Pepsi has reserved 100, and UPS has reserved 125. Six other large companies have placed reservations as well. But the trucks won’t be much use without charging stations, and even then, the vehicles will have to be carefully managed. Companies ordering the trucks are expected to operate them on routes that never take them too far from a central terminal equipped with charging stations.

It may not be as glamorous as conquering the open road, but operating out of a central terminal might be the best way to introduce zero-emission technology to trucking. Companies like UPS already operate natural-gas trucks in this way, even though natural gas proved a nonstarter for passenger cars because of a lack of public fueling stations.

The Reuters report also said that Tesla may operate its own charging stations for trucks, similar to the network of “Supercharger” stations it built up for its electric cars. But delivering the first trucks on time and building a network of charging stations could be a tall order, especially considering that Tesla must simultaneously ramp up production of the Model 3 to meet CEO Elon Musk’s goals.

From its estimated 0-to-60 mph time of 5.0 seconds to its screen-filled cockpit, the Tesla Semi seems like the love child of a conventional semi truck and a Model S. Whether that high-tech showmanship translates into a vehicle that is both practical for operators and profitable for Tesla remains to be seen. But charging-station plans show that Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, and UPS are serious about going electric.