DHL Supply Chain announced today that it has placed an order for 10 Tesla Electric Class 8 semi-trailer trucks. Jim Monkmeyer, president of transportation at DHL Supply Chain North America, explained that the new semis are “a revolutionary approach to trucking.”
DHL is one of the first third-party logistics companies to order the trucks, which are currently only being offered to North American customers. The connectivity and fleet management software that Tesla is promising will be a good fit for DHL’s own technologies, such as Resilience360, the German integrator said.
DHL Supply Chain said it will test the trucks at its operations in major U.S. metro cities. The trucks will be used for shuttle deliveries and same-day customer deliveries, and will be tested for mileage efficiency on longer runs from major markets to other DHL operations across the country.
But there’s a more urgent component to DHL’s decision. According to the American Trucking Association, the country is facing a current shortage of licensed commercial truck drivers, and it’s only getting worse. That shortage could double from 48,000 in 2015 to almost 100,000 in 2020 as today’s aging truckers retire, and the industry struggles to attract new workers.
As demonstrated earlier this month, Tesla’s new electric semi is better-suited to ameliorate labor shortages on hub-to-hub routes, where DHL Supply Chain is active. The trucks’ self-navigation technology allows a line of semis to operate like a connected caravan, with the lead truck operated by a human driver, followed by automated trucks that learn from the human driver’s navigation choices.
That model works great for well-traversed routes, but for individual trucks moving between distribution centers, hubs and delivery locations, there’s still a need for humans at this point.
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