Pepsi Hauling Frito-Lay Chips in Expanded Tesla Semi Fleet Makes Perfect Sense

Tesla Semi 7 photos
Photo: Tesla Media
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If Pepsico's plans play out as designed, folks in Sacramento and Modesto, California, can expect to see more heavy-duty Tesla Semi trucks rolling around their cities as part of the soda company's broader goal to have 100 of the trucks hitting the road in 2023.
The company's top fleet manager told Reuters the company will use the electric trucks to make deliveries to Walmart and Kroger locations in and around California's capital, as well as possibly in some central U.S. states.

Both plants in Sacramento and Modesto will also be upgraded with four 750-watt Tesla Inc. charging stations to support the electric truck fleet.

The focus on California was spurred on by a $15.4 million state grant and a $40,000 federal subsidy per vehicle to curb some of the cost.

PepsiCo Vice President Mike O'Connell said in an interview, "It's a great starting point to electrify. Like any early technology, the incentives help us build out the program," he said, adding that there were "lots" of development and infrastructure costs.

Tesla did not provide any financial support for the mega-chargers but did contribute design and engineering services for the solar and battery storage systems at the facilities

Pepsi is the first company to experiment with the battery-powered Tesla Semi's as a way to cut its carbon footprint. It had been reported in the past, but O'Connell went into more detail on how the trucks will be utilized.

Not only is Pepsico a soda maker, but it also makes chips under the Frito-Lay brand, which are much lighter in weight than soda, making it reasonable to assume the company will use the trucks in that capacity.

To support that reasoning, O'Connell outlined that a 425-mile (684-km) trip carrying Frito-Lay products would use roughly 80% of the Semi's and take just 35 to 45 minutes to fully recharge.

It remains to be seen exactly what products the truck will deliver, but a sign that they will deliver soda took place recently as trucks from the Frito-lay plant were sent to PepsiCo distribution centers.

All of the trucks originally ordered in 2017 are of the 500-mile (805-km)-range variety, and Pepsico is uncertain as to when Tesla will start deploying the 300-mile (480-km) range trucks.

While the company did not disclose the cost of each Semi, they did say the operating cost will pay back over time.
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