Article Title: Anheuser-Busch Turns to Tesla for Huge Semi-Truck Order
Author of Article: Chris Morris
Date of article: December 7, 2017
Anheuser-Busch has placed an order for 40 Tesla semi-trucks. AB is the second company reported to place such a large order; trucking company J.B. Hunt also placed a pre-order for as many as 40 trucks.
What is unique is that the semi-truck is all electric with a 500 mile range, and offers autonomous driving. Anheuser-Busch plans to keep the driver in the truck, primarily to unload the beer.
1. Why would Anheuser-Busch pre-order the new Tesla semi-truck?
Guidance: You can begin with reducing their carbon footprint. As the article mentions, they have a goal of reducing their carbon footprint by 30% by 2025. It also offers many advanced safety features, and promises a 20% reduction in cost over the standard diesel truck. With the autonomous driving feature, the driver might be eliminated in the future–further reducing costs.
2. Should the driver be eliminated at some point in the future as the autonomous driving technology matures?
Guidance: At some point, the technology will make the driver unnecessary. At the moment, the public perception, and possibly regulation, would prevent a driverless truck in most situations. The driver would exist to monitor the truck—to be able to adjust to the unexpected. As the technology matures, the public may be more willing to accept it. The drivers might continue to exist for other reasons. The article mentions unloading the truck as one reason. Other reasons could be security. An unmanned truck would be a thief target. Additionally, the “driver” could perform other tasks such as processing paperwork, or handing customer support—almost anything that could be done on a computer or phone. Unions also might insist on having drivers in the truck.
3. The article mentions having the driver unload the truck as a reason for the keeping the driver. Are there other alternatives?
Guidance: An interesting alternative is to continue with technology theme. Could automatic unloading be developed? At some point in time, the answer is yes. Another possibility is to transfer the unloading to someone at the delivery point. You could also schedule workers to arrive to unload the truck. Today’s GPS and associated technology make forecasting of arrivals more accurate, allowing the coordinated arrival of the truck and unloading crew.