December 2017

Overdrive Magazine | Trucking Business News & Owner Operator Info

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PULSE December 2017 | Overdrive | 5 see the [previous] gener- ation lay down and roll over. Those guys were my ideal. … This absolutely disgusts me that drivers are buying into this kind of government bullying. … I sincerely hope some of you read this and it takes you back to your early days and memories of when things were good. Those days are only over because you allow them to be. I know drivers that do it just like it's been done for the last 70 years on a daily basis. If you're one of them, I commend you. Stand up for yourself. No voice is too soft! Damien: I wasn't born in the day of the mythical "golden" age of trucking, but I understand that no blood, sweat or tears = no pride in the job done. Thanks to all the old-tim- ers who didn't speak up, I have to be a true profes- sional daily, more so than any stretch of time during my career in the military, and abide by rules that were put into place long before I showed up to drive. I don't mind ELDs, but damn the HOS rules. I don't like being told what speed to max at, so I bought my own truck. I don't like van politics and scheduling, so I bought a step deck. I say no to cheap freight, unreason- able shippers/receivers' appointments and lying agents. Keep on trucking, Wes, and live as you see fit! Robert Smith: Great writing, "Wes." Stay off the back row! How would you like to get an extra dollar for every five miles you drive? That's one of many notable promises made by Tesla Motors at the unveiling of the electric Tesla Semi. The boast gets at the heart of what own- er-operators care the most about: Would this equipment save me serious money? That question traditionally hinges on not just fuel efficiency but also truck price and mainte- nance costs. Price was one of the glaring omissions at the debut, though days later Tesla an- nounced a range of $150,000 to $200,000. That's not as high as some people expected, given another glaring unknown – the specs of a battery that could handle a range of up to 500 miles. Observers' estimates of battery cost alone have exceeded the cost of a new diesel tractor, but apparently Tesla figured a way around that. Even if it's not too costly, if the battery is too big or heavy, it takes away too much cargo space or payload. That makes it perhaps the biggest question mark in the undisclosed math behind a key comparison Tesla announced: The Semi will have operational costs of $1.26 per mile vs. $1.51 for a typical diesel tractor. That's a 16.6 percent savings. A big part of that is fuel savings – that extra dollar per five miles or, as Tesla put it, $200,000 over a million miles. That involves at least two major variables – future prices for diesel and electricity – and the truck won't even be available until 2019. Electricity's cost history has been relatively stable, unlike the volatility of oil-based fuels. If anything goes wacky regarding the relative prices of elec- tricity and diesel, it likely won't be electricity to blame. It will be years before Semis pound enough asphalt to determine true maintenance costs. Nevertheless, the manufacturer has grounds for claiming big maintenance savings. Namely, the four motors powering the drive axles are far simpler than today's complex diesel engines. Gone are the transmission, differential and exhaust treatment system. On the other hand, chief Elon Musk was also quiet on pre-pro- duction testing and plans for a nationwide service network, implying some naivete about being prepared for the many things that can go wrong with a truck. Yet Musk is hardly alone in chasing this holy grail. The startup Nikola said months ago it had orders for 8,000 of its hy- drogen-electric tractors. More established brands – including Daimler, Cummins, Mack, Peterbilt, Kenworth, Navistar, Volkswagen and Toyota – have shared their development efforts with electric power. Diesel power will be around probably for decades. But don't be shocked if you live to see e-trucks as a common sight – not just for saving the environ- ment but also for saving costs. Counting the costs mheine@randallreilly.com By Max Heine Editorial director The Tesla Semi $150,000 base model will have a 300-mile range. The $180,000 model will have a 500-mile range.

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