Tesla is currently lobbying Australian regulators to change rules on the dimensions of semi trucks to allow its electric semis to operate on Australian roads. It has submitted documentation to Australia’s National Transport Commission during its regulatory review proceedings, which allows for public comments.
Current Australian regulations allow vehicles up to 2.5 meters (about 8.2 feet) wide on local roads. Tesla Semis can be up to two inches wider than that, which would rule them out for making deliveries in Australia.
“Currently, Australia will likely miss out on the first generation of electric heavy vehicles such as the Tesla Semi because of this,” Tesla said in the documents submitted to the National Transport Commission.
Tesla argued that the ability to make large vehicles like the semi truck fully electric will be a critical component in combating climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions. It especially highlighted the effects of climate change that Australia is already beginning to feel, especially the out-of-control bush fires of early 2020 that destroyed millions of acres of wilderness and thousands of homes. The bush fires had a particularly devastating effect on Australia’s unique native animals like the koala and kangaroo.
Tesla plans to begin producing the Semi in August 2021, most likely at the manufacturing facility being built at Austin, Texas. It is currently best suited for short hauls that would take a day or less, which is exactly what some companies like Walmart Canada plan to use them for as part of their plans to make their operations more environmentally friendly. Last September, Walmart Canada tripled its order of Tesla Semis as part of its bid to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in its operations by 2040.
“By converting 20% of our fleet to electric vehicles by the end of 2022 and committing to alternative power for all fleet vehicles by 2028, we are putting safety, innovation, and sustainability at the forefront of our logistics network,” Walmart Canada Logistics and Supply Chain Vice President John Bayliss said of it in a press release issued at the time.
Walmart Canada also liked safety features like the autopilot and onboard cameras, which could help truckers who face hazards like the risk of accidents and crime while on the road. Many truckers who have been doing it for a while will have a story in which having at least a dashcam would have come in handy. That could make Tesla Semis attractive to both short haul truckers and the companies that employ them. A dashcam could, for instance, catch footage like this that would make excellent evidence in the event of an accident:
Tesla did mention in its documentation that the availability of the Tesla Semi could spur rivals to work on their own versions of fully electric semi trucks. It says that making large vehicles like the semi truck fully electric could go a long way in decarbonizing transportation, especially considering that most products that people buy every day would have been on a truck at some point. The National Transport Commission plans to finalize its recommendations by May.