Tesla is the undisputed automotive leader in fully electric cars. While many other makes have fully electric models, only Elon Musk’s pioneering brand dared to go all electric from the beginning. Now, this trendsetter is ready to shock the world again. Just months after unveiling the long-awaited Model 3 family sedan, Tesla announced plans to release a fully-electric tractor-trailer big rig.
There is no doubt this unveiling places Tesla squarely at the front of the pack in the so-called “sustainable transportation” marketplace. Because trucks account for about 25 percent of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, a reduction in that amount could have a major positive impact, not just on greenhouse gas emissions, but on the environmental impact of shipping across country and even from Mexico to Canada.
While it hasn’t been announced yet, many expect the new rigs to come equipped with autonomous driving features such as automatic braking and lane changing. This has a lot of people really excited. But, as usual, there are critics.
Some were not impressed with the electric semi announcement, simply because Tesla is “so far behind” in production of the Model 3. Plus, Tesla has focused a lot of resources in expanding production of its solar panel business. With all this going on … and SpaceX drawing much of Musk’s attention, there are many who said the semi effort is just one more straw on the camel’s busy back.
Others have taken that criticism one step further, saying the semi announcement is calculated public relations, hoping to draw the media’s attention away from how far behind the Model 3 production actually is. The idea in this camp is that, if the media is singing the praises of the Tesla R&D department, there will be less ink spent on asking when the Model 3 production will actually begin to meet demand.
If that’s the case, then what about the other projects Tesla has promised? The electric pickup and the lower-cost SUV? What about Tesla’s negotiations with a Chinese manufacturing facility that could help Tesla not only ramp up production but cut costs in the process?
With all this going on, it’s hard to believe this latest announcement is mere distraction. Sure, Musk is not above shouting “squirrel!” at the media, but, in this case, it just seems like his team is excited about their next industry-changing innovation. For those following Tesla closely, this seems much more likely to be the case.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.