Tesla’s long-awaited electric Semi trucks may finally get their debut in 2023 when Pepsi begins rolling its fleet out across the U.S., a new report found that electric cars cost “almost” the same as their gas-powered counterparts, and NASA scraps a mission to track climate change. All this and more in The Morning Shift for Monday, December 19, 2022.
1st Gear: Tesla Trucks Might Finally be Coming
After years of will they, won’t they, Tesla finally started building its Semi trucks in the U.S. earlier this month. The automaker confirmed that production of the all-electric truck with a glitzy handover ceremony that saw it ship off the first Semi to Pepsi Co. And now, the drinks maker says it’s gearing up to send the trucks out onto the road.
According to Reuters, Pepsi plans to begin rolling out its fleet of 100 Tesla Semi trucks in the new year. In 2023, the electric trucks will begin completing deliveries for Pepsi Co. customers across the U.S., including for customers like Walmart and Kroger. Reuters reports:
PepsiCo Inc, which ordered the big trucks in 2017, is purchasing them “outright” and is also upgrading its plants, including installing four 750-kilowatt Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) charging stalls at both its Modesto and Sacramento locations in California, PepsiCo Vice President Mike O’Connell said in an interview. A $15.4 million state grant and $40,000 federal subsidy per vehicle helps offset part of the costs.
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According to Pepsi, the rollout of the Semi trucks will begin in the West, where it will deploy 15 trucks from Modesto and 21 from Sacramento. Reuters reports that it remains “unclear” where the remaining 64 trucks will be based, but the site claims that Pepsi plans to launch trucks in “the central United States next, and then the East Coast.”
Once in service, the trucks will haul Frito-Lay food products “for around 425 miles,” but when loaded up with soda, the “trucks will initially do shorter trips of around 100 miles,” reports Reuters.
2nd Gear: Tesla Stock Up as Musk Teases Twitter Exit
At seems like it never rains, but it pours when it comes to Tesla news these days. As, while Pepsi starts rolling out its Semi trucks, the electric car maker is struggling with dropping share prices that are down more than 62 percent so far this year.
But, the freefalling price seems to be steadying after boss Elon Musk teased his departure as CEO of Twitter, the social media platform that he reluctantly bought for $44 billion earlier this year.
Over the weekend, Musk ran a poll on Twitter to ask if he should step back from duties at the site. The vote attracted 17,502,391 responses with 57.5 percent saying that he should step back. Now, Automotive News reports that the little stunt boosted the price of Tesla shares in pre-trading this morning. According to the site:
Tesla Inc. shares jumped in anticipation of Elon Musk potentially stepping back from Twitter Inc., the social media company that has distracted him from running the electric-car maker for months.
Tesla’s stock rose as much as 5 percent at the start of premarket trading Monday. The shares have plunged 58 percent since Musk disclosed in early April that he’d taken a stake in Twitter, underperforming the 15 percent drop in the S&P 500 Index.
Now, we all wait with bated breath to see if Musk is a man of his word and will really step back from Twitter as the masses appear to want. Then the question will be, who comes to head up the social media company next?
3rd Gear: EVs Cost ‘Almost’ the Same as ICE Cars
Since they first started rolling into car showrooms, electric vehicles have always been more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts. But now, a new report from Automotive News suggests that the tides may be turning.
According to the new J.D. Power EV Index, a consumer report on electric vehicles, “EVs cost almost the same as gasoline vehicles to own.” The report ranked six areas of car ownership, including interest, availability, adoption, affordability, infrastructure, and experience. As Automotive News reports:
Electric vehicles nearly match internal combustion vehicles in cost of ownership and the ownership experience, according to a new J.D. Power index gauging the industry’s shift to EVs.
But wide gaps in four of the six categories measured — including charging infrastructure and consumer interest in EVs — show there is still a long way to go before the two forms of propulsion are on equal footing.
The report, which will launch in full in the new year, found that EV adoption is increasing. But, it warned that this could bring with it increasing headaches for buyers without proper investment. According to Automotive News, “charging networks aren’t keeping up with vehicle sales,” which means that the “experience” of owning an EV could wane in the future.
4th Gear: Alfa Romeo Pivots to Luxury
If you want your car brand to succeed in the future, apparently the best option is to pivot to luxury vehicles. It’s working out for Mercedes as it begins killing off cheaper cars in favor of top-end models, and now it sounds like Alfa Romeo might give the strategy a go.
Automotive News reports that the Stellantis-owned automaker will move away from internal combustion engines and increase its focus on “delivering experiences fitting of the luxury segment” as it eyes growth in the U.S. The site reports:
The Italian brand is laying the groundwork for this expansion now with a focus on delivering experiences to consumers that are fitting of the luxury segment. It’s not a numbers game. Alfa says it’s thinking about much more than volume at this point in its U.S. comeback.
Customer satisfaction and vehicle quality are arguably “more important” to the brand than sales as it works to build momentum in the U.S., said Vincent Noirbent, vice president of product planning and transformation for Alfa in North America.
Alfa Romeo currently markets the Stelvio and Giulia here in America. The new Tonale SUV will launch stateside next year. The new car’s launch is all part of a 10-year plan for Alfa Romeo, which Automotive News says will focus on “stability, customer satisfaction, and dealer profitability.”
5th Gear: NASA Scraps Climate Change Satellite
What’s the best way to demonstrate your commitment to studying climate change? Is it sending missions up into the atmosphere or orbit above the Earth to study greenhouse gasses, or is it scrapping satellites that could monitor the conditions in the atmosphere? For American space agency NASA, it sounds a lot more like that second option.
According to Space.com, NASA has scrapped plans to launch a new satellite into orbit that could study the concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. The craft, which was due to launch into orbit in 2024, had been in development since 2016 and would have been capable of measuring “levels of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane in the atmosphere about 4 million times per day.” Now, it’s been grounded before it even got a chance to fly. Space.com reports:
The decision to end GeoCarb was due to “technical concerns, cost performance and availability of new alternative data sources.” The most recent anticipated cost of GeoCarb was $600 million, much higher than the mission’s original $170.9 million estimate.
Instead of launching yet another satellite into orbit, NASA will instead rely on equipment already in use to monitor greenhouse gasses on Earth. These include the new Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation instrument, which has been installed on the International Space Station, and the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 instrument, which is also currently in use aboard the ISS.
Reverse: We Shall Return: With Peace and Hope for all Mankind
Neutral: First Person to Spot a Tesla Semi
I wonder when we actually will see those Tesla Semi trucks prowling the streets? When they do finally make it off the page and into reality, will people excitedly point them out on the highway as they would an exotic supercar? Or, will they just blend into the traffic?