Walmart Canada has more than tripled its order for Tesla Semi trucks in a show of confidence for the all-electric heavy-duty vehicles and the ability of its maker to deliver them.
The Canadian division of retailer Walmart (NYSE:WMT) said Tuesday it reserved 130 of the trucks. Once in service, Walmart will have one of the biggest electric truck fleets in Canada as part of a companywide goal to achieve zero emissions by 2040.
“I’m excited to have my drivers drive this truck,” Francis Lalonde, Walmart Canada’s vice president for transportation, told FreightWaves.
Walmart Canada expects to get its Teslas in 2021. Lalonde wouldn’t detail the delivery schedule, but said the company has full confidence in Tesla’s (NASDAQ:TSLA) ability to deliver them.
“We trust our partner,” he said.
The Teslas will operate within Canada as part of Walmart’s private fleet of around 300 trucks with about 500 drivers. Their 500-mile range provides a good fit for Canadian fleet operations, which have drivers return to their distribution centers each day.
Walmart Canada has looked at other zero-emissions vehicles, but the Tesla Semi has so far proven the best one for its fleet, Lalonde said. Beyond the range and ability to haul 80,000-pound loads, the Tesla safety features — including its collision-avoiding autopilot — were an important selling point.
“I firmly believe these are the safest trucks out there,” Lalonde said.
‘We’ve done our homework’ on Tesla, Walmart executive says
Walmart Canada plans to have 20% of its fleet converted to electric power by the end of 2022. It hopes to have the entire fleet running on an alternative power source by 2028.
It also has no qualms about being an early adopter of the Tesla Semi. The truck has been considerably hyped by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and also delayed.
“We’ve done our homework,” Lalonde said.
Walmart Canada’s bet on the Tesla Semi comes as part of the larger embrace of new technology in the supply chain. The company successfully deployed a blockchain-based freight payment system with DLT Labs.
“It’s called innovation,” Lalonde said. “Is there there any risk in being one of the first ones? Yes. But we’re proud to be innovators.”