Investors appear ready to ride shotgun on Tesla’s journey into the trucking business.
Shares of the electric car maker climbed as much 4.5% Friday, a day after the company rolled out its Tesla Semi, an electric-powered big rig truck with a 500-mile range. The stock closed Friday at $315.05, up less than one percent.
Retailing giant Walmart confirmed Friday it plans to test 15 Tesla’s Semi trucks as part of a pilot program in the U.S. and Canada.
“We have a long history of testing new technology – including alternative-fuel trucks – and we are excited to be among the first to pilot this new heavy-duty electric vehicle,” said Walmart spokesperson Ryan Curell in a statement. “We believe we can learn how this technology performs within our supply chain, as well as how it could help us meet some of our long-term sustainability goals, such as lowering emissions.”
Meanwhile, trucking company J.B. Hunt Transport Services said it had already placed multiple orders for Tesla Semi trucks.
“We look forward to utilizing this new, sustainable technology,” said John Roberts, president and CEO of J.B. Hunt, in a statement Friday.
Investors and the trucking industry are optimistic about the shift to electric because of the potential savings. During an event Thursday night, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company’s Semi will cost 20% less to operate than a standard diesel truck.
Between this and potentially lower costs to maintain the trucks, Tesla boasts a strong chance of disrupting the trucking business, said Evercore analyst George Galliers in a note to investors.
“From a purely economic perspective, if Tesla’s cost of ownership stats prove accurate in practice, Tesla’s Semi has a strong chance of taking significant share,” he said.
Semi adds one more major project on the plate of Musk, who not only has several in the works at Tesla, but also runs aerospace company Space X, and The Boring Company, which is attempting to solve traffic woes by creating a high-speed transportation system featuring a series of tunnels.
At the same Tesla event on Thursday, the company also unveiled the next version of its roadster, due in 2020, with a base price of $200,000. Musk boasted the vehicle can hit 60 mph in under two seconds, saying it will be the “fastest production car ever made — period.”
The Roadster, a sports car that takes over where the company’s first model left off, was a surprise reveal by Musk at the end of the unveiling of the big rig.
Tesla has shown plenty of ambition, but it needs to prove it can deliver, said Morgan Stanley analyst Ravi Shanker.
“Between the Model 3 rollout, the gigafactory, the Semi and the Roadster (not to mention the upcoming Model Y and pickup, which Tesla also teased at the event), Tesla has its hands full for the next three years,” he said.