PepsiCo Exec Details Tesla Semi Experience

PepsiCo Vice President Mike O’Connell detailed the food and beverage giant’s experience with the Tesla Semi in a recent interview, noting that the company plans to add another 100 of the all-electric trucks to its logistics fleet in 2023 (via Reuters).

Tesla’s Semi is an all-electric Class 8 semi-truck that the electric vehicle (EV) maker announced in late 2017. Earlier this month, PepsiCo became the first customer to take delivery of a Semi truck from Tesla.

PepsiCo is currently deploying a total of 36 Tesla Semis — 16 in Modesto and 21 in Sacramento. The company plans to upgrade its plants in both cities, installing 750 kW Tesla chargers for the trucks at each location.

O’Connell, PepsiCo’s top supply chain official, said that a $15.4 million California state grant and $40,000 in subsidies per vehicle help offset part of the costs for transitioning to electric vehicles (EVs) for the company’s logistics fleet.

“It’s a great starting point to electrify,” said O’Connell. “Like any early technology, the incentives help us build out the program,” he added, noting that “there’s lots of development” and infrastructure costs involved.

PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, which sells lightweight food products like potato chips, is already using the new Semis to make deliveries. We even saw a Frito-Lay Tesla Semi join a Christmas parade in Modesto recently.

O’Connell said that a Tesla Semi loaded full of Frito-Lay products can do 425-mile (684 km) hauls with battery left to spare. For heavier loads of sodas, however, PepsiCo is looking to do shorter trips of around 100 miles (160 km).

According to O’Connell, a 425-mile (684-km) trip carrying Frito-Lay products brings the Semi’s battery down to roughly 20%. Recharging the Semi from that point takes around 35 to 45 minutes.

O’Connell, who oversees PepsiCo’s fleet of vehicles, said that all of the Semis being delivered to the company will have a 500-mile (805-km) range. These configurations also have a massive, 1,000 kWh battery pack.

He added that he does not know when Tesla will start delivering Semis with a 300-mile (480-km) range, but said that when the automaker does start building them, PepsiCo “will rotate those up” into its fleet.

“We keep the trucks for a million miles, seven years,” the PepsiCo executive said. “The operating costs over time will pay back.”

Unfortunately, PepsiCo declined to share any details on the pricing or weight of the Tesla Semi. Information on both remains hush-hush, with neither Tesla nor any of its customers spilling any beans.

O’Connell said that some of the Semis will start making deliveries to customers like Walmart and Kroger next year. He added that PepsiCo wants to roll out the electric trucks in the central U.S. next, followed by the East Coast.

Earlier this week, Tesla shared a video of its engineers testing the Semi in a range of harsh conditions.