Walmart Canada has more than tripled its order of Tesla semi trucks to 130 units in an increasing effort to make its fleet of trucks more sustainable. As announced at Climate Week events earlier this month, Walmart’s ultimate goal is to reduce its carbon emissions to zero by 2040.
With this order, Walmart Canada is on track to convert 20% of its long-haul trucks to electric power by the end of 2022 and switch its fleet entirely over to renewable energy sources by 2028.
“Tripling our reservation of Tesla Semi trucks is part of our ongoing effort to innovate the business and prioritize sustainability. 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,” said Logistics and Supply Chain Vice President John Bayliss in a press release.
Walmart Canada cited safety features, advanced equipment, improved performance over diesel-powered semi trucks, and low operating costs as major factors in the choice to increase its order. The 500-mile range, autopilot, and inclusion of cameras to improve driver safety were especially attractive.
The idea of electric vehicles for long haul trucking has occasionally been criticized as not having much potential for long-distance, multi-day hauls. Most notably, Bill Gates went on record with his doubts that electric vehicles can ever perform as well as their biofuel-powered counterparts. Battery size especially seemed to be an issue, even though the batteries used for Tesla’s semi trucks are not expected to be nearly as heavy as the loads that Walmart’s truck drivers haul every day.
“The problem is that batteries are big and heavy. The more weight you’re trying to move, the more batteries you need to power the vehicle. But the more batteries you use, the more weight you add and the more power you need,” he said.
However, most of Walmart’s semi truck operations involve single-day round trips that are not expected to be overly taxing on Tesla’s batteries and will allow for overnight charging. Tesla expects to solve some of the limitations of large electric vehicles like semi trucks with improvements to its battery technology that Elon Musk announced at a Battery Day event.
Walmart Canada expects to invest a total of $3.5 billion over the next five years in pursuit of its goal to reduce carbon emissions and streamline customer service. It also intends to open two zero-waste distribution centers and release new digital tools to assist with more efficient customer service. Walmart’s charity arm, the Walmart Foundation, has announced plans to preserve or restore 50 million acres of natural land and one million square miles of ocean as part of its efforts to reduce the ecological impact of its operations.