Tesla Inc. (TSLA) is reportedly expanding its partnerships, inking deals to install on-site charging terminals for its electric trucks at Anheuser-Busch parent AB InBev (BUD), PepsiCo Inc. (PEP) and United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) facilities.
Citing company sources, Reuters reported Tesla is working with the companies to create the on-site charging terminals to support its new electric semi-truck that Tesla is aiming to launch next year. Details of the collaborations haven’t been finalized, but the companies told Reuters it will include design and engineering input from Tesla. The companies wouldn’t say how much the initiatives will cost and whether or not Tesla is paying or getting paid for its part in the collaboration. Reuters noted all three companies are among the nine big corporations that have pre-ordered the truck, which Tesla is calling Semi.
While Tesla’s ability to deliver on its promises has been questioned in the past, this week by of Apple Inc. (AAPL) co-founder Steve Wozniak, aka "The Woz," the collaboration with the companies and the pre-orders for the truck underscore that they are taking Tesla seriously. It also shows that the green car maker is working to overcome one big problem with the electric truck: keeping them powered and operating. By having the charging stations at the facilities it will ease any roadblocks for electric trucks taking off. (See also: Wozniak Turns Tesla Critic—Doesn't Trust Elon Musk.)
The companies told Reuters that once the charging equipment is in place at their facilities the trucks will initially be used for routes that wouldn’t require the battery to be recharged before they can return home. Mike O’Connell, senior director of supply chain for Frito-Lay North America, PepsiCo’s snack-food unit, told Reuters that while PepsiCo has pre-ordered 100 Tesla trucks it could look at sharing facilities and expenses with other companies. “We have a lot of in-house capability around energy and engineering ... and certainly Tesla brings their expertise to the table on energy and charging,” O‘Connell told Reuters. (See also: Tesla Raising Over $500M With Debt Backed By Vehicle Leases.)
In addition to building charging stations at the companies deploying the trucks, Reuters reported the car company will roll out its own charging stations that will sell electricity, expanding on its charging stations for its passenger cars. A Tesla spokeswoman confirmed the collaboration with the companies to Reuters but declined to comment on plans for the company to roll out its own truck charging stations. Meanwhile, James Sembrot, senior director of supply chain for Anheuser-Busch, told Reuters it is looking at whether or not it will use its own charging stations for the 40 Tesla trucks it ordered, installing them at big breweries.
“What was important to us was to make a big investment in this cutting-edge technology and secure our place in line,” Sembrot said in the report. UPS, which Reuters said ordered 125 of the trucks, will likely work with Tesla on the charging stations, Scott Phillippi, global engineering director for UPS, told Reuters.