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Tesla Semi

Discussion in 'TSLA Investor Discussions' started by jhm, Jul 25, 2016.

  1. jhm

    jhm Well-Known Member

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    There is a confluence of at least three technologies that have the potential to disrupt trucking. Tesla is at the center of this and drive change. My impression is that most trucking companies want to just add a few electric semis into their existing business model and are not prepared to make more radical changes necessary to gain full benefit of the confluence of technologies. Not only does this leave a substantial opening for Tesla, but if Tesla really wants to push trucking into the electric age, they may need to be ready to compete directly.

    I see this as bigger than autonomous ride hailing services, but complementary too. The more we shift to hide sharing, the more we will value on demand delivery. It's no coincidence that Uber should expand into Uber Eats. Why do two ride hailing trip to get grub, when Grub will deliver to your home. Sometimes shipping things is better than transporting people, and this happens at different geographical scales.

    Autonomous follow vehicles can save 30 to 40 c/mile.
    Electric truck can save 20 to 25 c/mile
    Charing infrastructure savings 5 to 15 c/kWh

    So I think Tesla can pull all these savings together and save 55 to 80 cents per mile. The rest of the industry can get there eventually, but if Tesla blazes the trail, the industry will change more quickly or lose market share. From the viewpoint of climate change, I'd like to see this transition more quickly. But also in terms of the global economy, a substantial reduction in the cost of shipping can have broad benefits.

    Where willing trucking be in 20 years? I think it will be highly automated, highly modular with containers in many different sizes. AI and automation will pack containers to optimize loads and autonomous tractors will move loads from node to node with dynamic routing. Intermodal transfer will be completely automated. So basically I see the cost of shipping falling substantially, driven mostly by tech. This is the real internet of things.
     
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  2. LCR1

    LCR1 Member

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    When it comes to charging, to avoid demand charges most places will probably opt for battery boosting and charge them off peak at much lower rates. Before installing charging most places should look at their billing and determine their demand charges now and develop a system to stay at that, so they would install battery backups to charge the trucks faster but never pull more from the grid than they normally would. If they usually have a 50kw demand charge then they should do everything they can to keep within the rate tier, or the closest one where the demand charge and cost of battery installs converge on the XY axis.

    For smaller facilities that have local runs then they will be charging overnight for 10-14 hours, there's no reason to charge a 1,000kw on a mega charger for an hour when 100kw on a super charger will do just as well. and if you have a battery back up constantly charging up at 100kw during the day you could charge 2mwh+ without ever going over your standard demand rate.
     
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  3. neroden

    neroden Model S Owner and Frustrated Tesla Fan

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    Right. So what I figure will happen. For every site, the expected (mean) daily load will be calculated. A scheme will be devised to fill the stationary batteries entirely at the lowest off-peak rates / lowest demand charges, filling at this average daily rate. Where land is available, solar farms or wind turbines will be the cheapest way to fill the batteries, of course.

    The stationary batteries will then be sized to meet the peak expected load -- perhaps the 99th percentile day -- which is higher, obviously. How much higher depends on how variable the trucking demand at that site is. (Tesla's internal usage should be highly predictable.) If several peak days are expected to happen back to back they might be sized even larger than that. The batteries will probably also be contracted into the grid to provide peak-removal services to the grid, since that's unlikely to happen at the same time as peak trucking demand, *and* is highly profitable.

    Now, jhm, is the following what you're getting at: are you suggesting making these batteries smaller and using "standby tractors" to meet the peak days?
     
  4. cpa

    cpa Active Member

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    All right, I will join the discussion using my license to practice public accounting but not the freight business/electrical engineering business to offer up the following:

    I know from clients that trailers will frequently be idle for 24 or more hours while they are unloaded/loaded and awaiting a tractor for delivery.

    Is it sensible to have batteries installed in the trailer too? Yes, I know that batteries in or on the trailer increase the tare, resulting in a lower weight available for the freight. Could there be a connection between the trailer battery and the tractor battery to fill DC-DC when the tractor battery reaches a low SOC level?

    The trailers could be charged at a lower rate for a lengthy period if they are idle. A 200kWh battery in the trailer could easily add many more hours of driving without having to stop to recharge the tractor along the way. This might really work well with a pair of drivers who can trade off after the first driver has maxed out on hours behind the wheel. And it would further work well if a truck were autonomous.

    Perhaps the reduction of freight to accommodate the battery in the trailer might be offset with a faster delivery time, lower charging (off peak and lower demand charges) and more efficient use of resources.

    Or maybe I should just stick to accounting, auditing, and income taxes. :D
     
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  5. jhm

    jhm Well-Known Member

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    Not quite. The first part is correct: to minimize demand charges, you use batteries to maintain a near constant draw of grid power 24/7. Beyond that however, there is still more opportunity. While you keep your grid power draw constant, you also want to maximize the amount of grid power (or local solar/wind) that goes directly into trucks that haul freight. For example, there is a round-trip inefficiency of bouncing power into a stationary battery before it is ultimately put into a truck. So right off, you lose 10% or so of your power in this way. But of course, the bigger issue is avoiding the capex of excess stationary batteries. So when you've got customers cause peaks for 2 to 4 hours a day, that leaves 20 or more hours when an in-house fleet can snag marginally cheap power. So how best to seize that opportunity?

    Perhaps the word "stand-by" is a hang up. It's not like you've got trucks sitting around for 20 hour a day just waiting to charge. Quite the opposite, you send those trucks out hauling load during the peak charging hours. So if there is enough flow of freight to haul, these trucks would be charging or hauling 24/7. That these are autonomous follow vehicles and that hauling is focused on node to node (not pickup or delivery) allow Tesla to operate this fleet almost non-stop. When you've got to meet client schedules for pickup and delivery or driver scheduling for one driver per truck, you've got much more constraints on scheduling, so trying to adapt to times of cheap marginal charging becomes a last priority. This is what will trip up most trucking companies. They are used to the convenience of fueling and will want to keep operating their businesses such that that is the least of their worries. But if Tesla streamlines this to focus on node to node hauling to span long distances in short times, then I think soaking up off-peak charging is do able. Platooning is most effective for long-hauls, but you need to be able to coordinate the formation of platoons. So at each node, platoons can form and dissolve so that it load gets optimally routed to its terminal node. Also there is a shortage of truck drivers interested in long haul trucking. Node to node platooning solves that problem. Human drivers can focus on piloting between just a few nodes in a region. So this is short-haul trucking from the perspective of the driver. But from the perspective of the load it can be long-haul. An analogy may be made to the internet. Loads are packets with a final address. The packets are dynamically routed from node to node seeking out the shortest/most available route. So the key keeping these stand-by trucks highly utilized is to have a stead stream of packet/load arriving at each node all the time. The main thing that would really cause a tractor to wait is if there is no load to haul. So a tractor arrives at a node at a non-peak hour. It charges, and hopefully before it is done charging a new load arrives. It picks up that load and wait for the formation of the next platoon head to the next node on the load's journey. So you can see here that there is some natural waiting for loads to arrive and platoons to form and depart. Because all this is happening at a charging node, that logistical waiting can also provide opportunity to charge. That the heart of all this is an information system that keeps track of loads, drivers, tractors, and charging resources and is constantly optimizing the movement of loads. In real-time it is optimizing the route to minimize time and cost. Ultimately, huge network value can be created.
     
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  6. neroden

    neroden Model S Owner and Frustrated Tesla Fan

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    So you're thinking of *opportunistically scheduled truck trips*.

    Most truck trips will have a delivery schedule and the charging will be determined by the delivery schedule.

    You're suggesting that there will be an additional class of trips where delivery schedule is not rigid or urgent (time insensitive) and the *travel* schedule will be determined by optimum *charging* times.

    You're probably right. There will be some.
     
  7. jhm

    jhm Well-Known Member

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    t
    I'm a big fan of the electric trailer too. They can even be pulled by diesel tractors providing regenerative breaking and power boost.

    But actually I think that with full autonomy, we may see autonomous electric "trailers" that don't need a tractor or driver. Before that capability, we could have trailers platoon behind pilot vehicles (which could just be a Model 3).

    Hard to tell how all this will evolve, but I do think we are headed into a time where there will be big architectural changes in freight. That's also why I want a really out-of-the-box vehicle makers like Tesla to be in the center of this.
     
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  8. jhm

    jhm Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but I think if this is done right, such a network can opportunistically move freight faster than most scheduled trips. Charging time of the tractors should not at all be an impediment to the flow of freight. Ideally, when load arrives at a node, there is already a tractor charged and ready to join up with the next platoon. Now for major routes like I-40 or I-70, the platoons would just keep going through from node to node. So the platoon formation time would be trivial, just a long enough for the driver to piss. At any rate, I think platoon formation could be the slowest link in this system. The more frequently platoons form, the less time freight spends waiting for the next platoon. Eastbound platoons forming every 5 minutes is much better than every 2 hours. So there is a certain scale where this network become incredibly efficient in terms minimizing total travel time for freight.

    But to be sure, freight should never have to wait for tractors to charge. Tractors do opportunistic charging while they wait for load, so that hauling freight is on-demand. I think this would nicely complement what most truckers would be doing. They want charging on demand because charging time impedes the movement of the load. I think this will be one of the more durable problems for uptake of electric trucks. Impatient truckers are going to prefer diesel for quick refueling. That is why there needs to be fleet operators that are large enough and sophisticated enough to figure out how to charge without impeding the flow of freight. So it may become critical for Tesla to play that role, if no logistics company is inclined to figure this out.

    I also think that most trucking companies will have difficulty forming platoons too. A company that can perfect the logistics of platoon formation will also be ready to take on fully autonomous trucking when that become available. This is another way that autonomous trucking is a better place to be than autonomous ride sharing. Platooning will come sooner than full autonomy, and I'd much rather have an autonomous vehicle handle boxes of potato chips before dealing with human customers!
     
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  9. BioSehnsucht

    BioSehnsucht Model 3 LR

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    Just as long as these self propelled trailers have respect for humant/mutant life unlike in the movie Logan.
     
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  10. jhm

    jhm Well-Known Member

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    #1990 jhm, Dec 29, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2018
    EV Charging Rates For Commercial Electric Trucks, Buses, & Fast Chargers — Policies Forming | CleanTechnica

    California utilities are starting to recognize that demand charges in commercial and industrial rate plans discourage commercial EV charging.

    I would advise them to model how inexpensively companies can generate and store their own solar energy for charging services. Basically, demand charges are a huge financial incentive for load defection. Flat subscription fees are the next step in forcing customers effectively to pay demand charges that they could otherwise avoid with use of battery for peak shaving. Those fees need to be very low, or it will risk serious load defection too. The only way out is for utilities to price competitive to what customers can self-generate.
     
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  11. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Well-Known Member

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    Either demand charges or batteries effectively shut out all but the most frequently used charging locations if you are looking to recoup investment. Unless utilities change their pricing structure for less traveled routes, don't expect companies to install fast chargers in rural areas.
     
  12. neroden

    neroden Model S Owner and Frustrated Tesla Fan

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    The business model for chargers is strictly promotional. I think Tesla will go ahead and buy the batteries for the rural chargers. Not sure whether anyone *else* will... maybe places which want to drum up traffic.
     
  13. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Well-Known Member

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    Why do I have this feeling that a few years down the road, when mass market non-Tesla EVs are clogging too few CCS stations, the government will fix the situation by taxing EVs and building out a highly expensive charging network on our dime?
     
  14. 9837264723849

    9837264723849 Member

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    You mean a public EV infrastructure? That would be great! I, for one, will be quite happy to sell my TSLA share in 2025 (even at todays' SP) to contribute, if this can speed up the world's transition to renewable for good.
     
  15. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Well-Known Member

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    If the government ran gas stations, they would cost the taxpayer $6/gallon for gas, you would have constant lineups, and they would only serve 50% ethanol mix.

    Similarly, if the government ended up running public EV stations, they would cost the taxpayer twice as much as what private industry could provide, there wouldn't be enough of them, a lot of them would be broken all the time, and they'd always be a generation behind in fast charge technology.

    Unfortunately, without better policy at the utility rate level (which is set by government), I fear this is where we are headed. While this would be great for Tesla, I am already seeing that Tesla would be a better company if it had viable competition. Tesla cannot be the complete answer to tomorrow's EV future.
     
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  16. jhm

    jhm Well-Known Member

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    Hasn't the EU already forced Tesla to build out CCS at Superchargers?
     
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  17. MP3Mike

    MP3Mike Well-Known Member

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    No.
     
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  18. abasile

    abasile Conscientious investor

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    Not too many years ago, DOE (US Department of Energy) funding gave us the Blink Network of L2 and CHAdeMO charging stations. Blink burned through a ton of cash and still had a horrible reputation among many EV drivers (myself included). Blink has since been through multiple changes of ownership.

    ChargePoint has consistently had a better reputation than Blink and I believe they also received DOE funding, but they still haven't done nearly enough to enable inter-city travel.

    In my opinion, the government's only roles here should be to set tax policy appropriately, regulate emissions that directly harm communities, and focus our defense resources more effectively. Fossil fuels should not be subsidized in any way, our military should not be used to secure oil supplies, and there should be new or continued tax credits for "green" spending. This would include building out charging infrastructure, including for trucking. It would also include commercial and personal purchases of EVs, renewable energy equipment, battery storage, electric heat pumps for heating, etc.
     
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  19. SalisburySam

    SalisburySam Supporting Member

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    @cpa, innovative idea, and thanks for raising it. Unfortunately, I think it is a non-starter for reasons you specified: too much weight and volume in the trailer reducing payload. In addition, the trailer structure would have to be beefed up, and the manufacturing and acquisition costs would escalate substantially. Tesla has commented about just the tractor itself being heavy; the 80,000-lb limit in the US is for BOTH tractor and trailer so moving weight to the trailer from the tractor isn’t a benefit. In addition, batteries, connectors, and support systems will all require additional trailer maintenance that operators are loath to commit to. Also, the trailer charging infrastructure doesn’t exist and would be costly for shippers/receivers to install and operate at their loading docks for both installation and on-going juicing of trailers. While possible, I don’t envision trailer manufacturers or operators jumping on this bandwagon in the hope of faster deliveries. That doesn’t mean there isn’t an offsetting benefit to these not inconsequential costs, I just don’t think a faster delivery will be sufficient.

    Ok, this non-cpa, non-engineer will leave now having rained on the parade.
     
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  20. NeverFollow

    NeverFollow Active Member

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    #2000 NeverFollow, Jan 1, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
    Yes, you can add batteries to a trailer but this is costly and the logistic of keeping the battery charged when the trailer is
    detached from the tractor would require a lot of chargers posts to be installed, making maneuver even more difficult.

    The trailers would need to be keep plugged all the time because of vampire drain otherwise what the point to have a battery if,
    when you need the trailer, the battery is not full charged, idem with any EV car, Bus, or Semi-tractor.

    However, for special applications, like refrigeration, the usage of batteries already started to be very efficient
    compared to the use of an ICE generator, and when parked you don't need to have an auxiliary electric compressor.

    Another application are autonomous trailers, allowing to move trailer from a parking area to a loading area
    and vice versa, without the need to use a tractor. But you don't need a big battery or electric motor in this case.

    Some commercial jet airplanes already have an electric motor installed inside the front wheel, allowing maneuvering on the tarmac.

    Note: In Europe, many trailers are shorter than in US and have axles at each end like a car, so it's easy to make then self maneuverable.

    But in US, most trailers use a fifth-wheel, so you just need to have few mini electric fifth-wheel tractor to move the trailers.

    This reminds me when EV cars started to be popular but didn't have too much range and there was no superchargers.

    Some companies started building small 'U-Haul' type of trailers with batteries or generators, but finally this wasn't worthwhile.

    I think many transport companies make a stop half way between two major cities,
    allowing to exchange drivers so each driver can come back home at the end of the day.
    So you can have only one driver by truck.

    So it just a problem of logistic to have a tractor ready to go when one arrive.
    You can add few tractors if charging takes too much time and there is always a need
    to have some tractors available in the case if one breakdown or need maintenance.

    Not at all (and myself too..), every comment is useful, "(there's) no such thing as a stupid question"

    Defining a problem before trying to solve it is really important if you want to actually solve it.

    A problem well-defined is half-solved.

    Defining a problem allows to understand it and avoid developing a great solution to the wrong problem
     
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