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Walmart Says It's Preordered 15 of Tesla' New Semi Trucks (theverge.com) 179

Soon after Tesla unveiled its new electric Semi Truck and Roadster 2.0, Walmart says it has preordered 15 of the trucks. The Verge notes that the deal was "likely in the works before Tesla unveiled its new truck to the public." From the report: The pilot is planned for the U.S. and Canada. Five of the preordered vehicles will be for Walmart's U.S. business, and 10 will be for its Canadian routes, the company said. Walmart's fleet has about 6,000 trucks. "We have a long history of testing new technology -- including alternative-fuel trucks -- and we are excited to be among the first to pilot this new heavy-duty electric vehicle," the company said in a statement. "We believe we can learn how this technology performs within our supply chain, as well as how it could help us meet some of our long-term sustainability goals, such as lowering emissions." Musk said the truck would enter production in 2019. JB Hunt Transport Services, a 56-year-old company based in Arkansas, also reserved "multiple" new Tesla trucks as well.
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Walmart Says It's Preordered 15 of Tesla' New Semi Trucks

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  • by Jzanu ( 668651 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @05:04AM (#55575727)
    Walmart has money to burn because they don't actually buy inventory until its sold at the register/cart level. Every other business faces requirement for predictable delivery on capital equipment purchases, largely because it all must be put into use quickly to break even as an option to better than the alternatives.
    • by BadTuna ( 575923 )

      How do you not buy something until after it has been sold?

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@wor[ ]et ['f.n' in gap]> on Sunday November 19, 2017 @05:05AM (#55579985)

      Walmart has money to burn because they don't actually buy inventory until its sold at the register/cart level. Every other business faces requirement for predictable delivery on capital equipment purchases, largely because it all must be put into use quickly to break even as an option to better than the alternatives.

      That is actually less true today than ever before. Walmart is just one of many companies who adapted to the Amazon effect by becoming real estate moguls and renting out the store shelves.

      Basically a lot of stores now do consignment supply - the vendor supplies the goods to the store, and the store only pays the vendor when the good is actually sold, minus a store cut.

      You might also see this termed as "Vendor Managed Inventory" - because it's the vendor who is providing the store stock. This is also coupled with contractual store rentals where companies may rent aisles of the store. This is easily seen when going to the electronics department, and looking at video games. You'll notice there are separate aisles of Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony - each of these companies has basically contracted with the store to rent a certain amount of space. The store must provide the rented space, even though it seems silly. You may see racks and racks of empty shelves - or perhaps an entire rack is filled with a single game, 1 copy deep. This is because the rack is rented, and even if there's nothing to fill it, it still belongs to the renter. Employees often shuffle items to fill the racks because empty racks are ugly. Its also why for example there was an empty rack for PS Vita stuff - Sony dictated that rack was for PS Vita, and even though the Vita is dead, the store is obligated to maintain it.

      Of course, you see that say, the PC Games section in the same store is non-existent - because that's actually the store's owned rack, so that's whatever games the store deems will sell and justify that rack's presence. Unless a big PC game publisher comes and rents a rack (which does happen, in which case it's filled with that publisher's games) the store's own inventory typically pales in comparison.

      You might find the stores are often willing to price match online stores in this case as well - since the vendor is paid whatever the price is minus a store cut, if the store matches the online price, the vendor is paid less.

      Note this applies to the big national chain stores. Mom and Pop stores still have to buy their inventory like normal, and rarely do vendors actually request to rent some space

  • Hate Tesla (Score:4, Insightful)

    by backslashdot ( 95548 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @05:06AM (#55575731)

    Why do so many people hate Tesla? For fucks sake they are trying you gotta give them credit for that. Better than sitting around trolling on slashdot. Anytime they do something, out come the haters hoping they fail. You guys are happy with Ford, GM, and I guess Mack trucks? A Mack truck from 1970 is hardly changed from 2017 ..ok they added a cup holder .. nobody has a problem with that?

    • Re:Hate Tesla (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@NosPam.world3.net> on Saturday November 18, 2017 @05:13AM (#55575745) Homepage Journal

      I have mixed feelings about Tesla.

      On the one hand, the technology is cool, the cars are amazing and Musk has done more than any other individual to push electric vehicles forward. I might buy a Model X next year, in fact.

      On the other hand, Tesla is selling full self driving as an option ($3000) to be delivered by firmware update at some indeterminate point in the future. They already massively exaggerated what their current Autopilot can do, their current AP2.0/2.5 hardware hasn't even reached feature parity with the old 1.0 hardware, and if you were to start a lease on a new Tesla today there is a good chance you would never actually see FSD before handing the car back.

      • Re:Hate Tesla (Score:5, Interesting)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@NosPam.world3.net> on Saturday November 18, 2017 @06:35AM (#55575899) Homepage Journal

        Did I mention that their current hardware doesn't even do basic stuff like auto rain sensing and 360 degree cameras. The Model X is an amazing car in many ways, but also lacks stuff that is standard on cars costing 1/5th as much. The promises of firmware updates that take years to come are not a substitute.

        It makes me wonder how many engineers they have working on it when they can't get this basic stuff finished.

        • Re:Hate Tesla (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 18, 2017 @06:51AM (#55575921)

          As a Model S owner, I have mixed feelings as well.

          The car is incredible. I've driven 80k+ miles since 3/2014 and it drives as good now as on it's first day. No degredation of the battery, acceleration is still like a rocket, and the only things that broke down were a single tail light and something to do with the windshield wiper fluid (maybe the line was clogged). All of which was covered by warranty. Still on the original brake pads. Tires wear out, but so far they're covered by Michelin tire warranty.

          On the other hand, they definitely need more software engineers working on the screen apps. There are easy things they should be able to add to the navigation and music apps that I've been waiting literally years for.

          They said the focus on the software side is autodrive, but along the way they should at least give us some easy/visible upgrades.

          • by Rei ( 128717 )

            At least they finally got around to a proper camper mode. That's another thing that had been waiting years.

            How's the update for automatically moving the steering wheel out of your way when you get out working out?

          • Re:Hate Tesla (Score:5, Informative)

            by Octorian ( 14086 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @11:03AM (#55576763) Homepage

            Yeah, they seem to focus on software updates that make for good press releases, but don't give a damn at stuff that would only be noticed by everyday drivers.

            There are bugs in the whole media player software stack that enrage me every time I drive the car. I don't even know whose ear to yell into about them anymore, because they simply don't care. (And if you mention on forums, you get drowed out by 50 pet feature requests to the point that actual bugs get lost in the noise).

            Thankfully, these are really the only actual issues I have with the car. Everything else about it is wonderful, and its kinda hard to go back to an ICE car after driving one.

            • by haruchai ( 17472 )

              "I don't even know whose ear to yell into about them anymore, because they simply don't care"
              Yell at them & Elon on Twitter.

        • doesn't even do basic stuff like auto rain sensing

          Seriously? I remember reading somewhere that the Model 3 doesn't have that sensor either, and the windshield wiper control on/near the steering wheel only let you turn it on or off; the speed being controlled via the LCD panel. I couldn't quite believe that they'd leave out such a basic feature... That's gonna be a lot of fun on the highway.

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            They had a rain sensor in the V1 hardware but ditched it for V2. Their plan was to use the cameras instead but their software is really struggling to get existing features to work properly.

            It's kind of a joke, isn't it? A 100k car missing really basic features because their software engineers are struggling.

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          Did I mention that their current hardware doesn't even do basic stuff like auto rain sensing and 360 degree cameras.

          That's not true. At least on the Model X, their current hardware (if you buy the self-driving upgrade) has eight cameras, providing the computer with a full 360-degree camera view. Their current software, however, doesn't expose that to the user.

          • At least on the Model X, their current hardware (if you buy the self-driving upgrade) has eight cameras, providing the computer with a full 360-degree camera view. Their current software, however, doesn't expose that to the user.

            So the hardware can do it, but the software is incapable? Sounds like the ideal car for Apple fans [slashdot.org]. There are competent developers out of work and Apple's phones suck for the same reason, Apple is hiring lames and is proud.

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            Actually, they lack a nose mounted camera that can see the road right in front of the car. They couldn't do an overhead 360 degree view with their current hardware.

            The side cameras are monochrome plus red too, so the image would be in black and white.

            Even that would be preferable to nothing though. They could do side and rear view. At the moment all they have is a rear camera view.

      • Re:Hate Tesla (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @08:16AM (#55576119) Homepage

        Well it's refreshing to have a CEO that actually dares to have big, bold, idealistic visions. And by that I don't mean someone like Jobs who'd hype their current product but you'd have no idea where Apple was going 3-5 years down the road. In fact, the stretch goals are so high and so far out he doesn't run the risk of running into the Osborne effect [wikipedia.org] but are more like guiding stars than any actual plan or roadmap.

        I mean the marketing pamphlet for SpaceX could have read "Providing cost efficient satellite and ISS launch services through refurbished rockets" if it was run by a bean counter. Instead it's like "We want to build a BFR and colonize Mars", that's the vision. Somehow he's made it a success story to make some impossible goal and then coming up short is expected. Like now it's months of turn-around time to relaunch a "flight proven" rocket, he says lets do it in 24 hours. He's relaunched a rocket once, he says we'll make rockets that launch hundreds of times.

        I think in terms of getting a team together and solve the engineering difficulties it's great. Why are we doing this, to shave a few bucks of NASA's budget? Nah. And we're not going to design something that's fundamentally unworkable for the long term goal, maybe we need a stopgap solution but we're stretching for that Formula One pit stop. Few things bring out such smug geek/nerd satisfaction as pushing the boundaries and announcing "They said it was impossible, so we did it".

        For the customers though, I'd say Musk's companies are notoriously unreliable company with timelines and grand designs and promises that aren't really grounded in reality. If their current products do what you want them to do, by all means go ahead and buy it. But if you're waiting for something that's on the roadmap don't hold your breath. I got suckered into that Model 3 hype and pre-ordered... and then I started thinking WTF I'm waiting years for a car I know hardly anything about on a schedule I can't control, then I canceled. I decided I'd rather pick from the cars that are on the market when I need it.

        • then I started thinking WTF I'm waiting years for a car I know hardly anything about on a schedule I can't control, then I canceled. I decided I'd rather pick from the cars that are on the market when I need it.

          You decided that you needed the money back, because otherwise you'd be happy for the chance to purchase one of those cars at the given time. There's nothing wrong with that, but don't pretend it's not an economic decision just to hate on Tesla.

    • Re:Hate Tesla (Score:5, Insightful)

      by darthsilun ( 3993753 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @06:01AM (#55575853)

      Hate Tesla? Or Musk? I dunno about hate. I think the fanbois who are trying to hold him us some kind of real life Tony Stark are silly. As far as I know he's just an idea man and doesn't have any real engineering creds. I don't believe he could build his way out of wet paper bag – he hires people to do that for him.

      He got lucky wrt getting rich and I'm glad he's putting that money to good use.

      I don't think he's winning any brownie points with the way he's dealing with labor issues at the Tesla factory.

      • I don't believe he could build his way out of wet paper bag – he hires people to do that for him.

        When Bill Clinton's press secretary Mike McCurry resigned, he commented on the Monica Lewinsky fiasco something like: "You know, sometime very intelligent people do some really dumb things."

        The former US President Ronald Reagan was a bit of an idiot . . . but he was smart enough to realize that he was an idiot, and got folks like James Baker and Casper Weinberger to do all the work for him. Musk hiring top talented engineers is the best move for him.

        If you want to reach the stars, try standing on the sho

        • The former US President Ronald Reagan was a bit of an idiot . . . but he was smart enough to realize that he was an idiot, and got folks like James Baker and Casper Weinberger to do all the work for him.

          Pretty standard "conservatives are idiots" line.

          He was so stupid that among other things he was head of Screen Actor's Guild, Governor of California, and President of the USA for two terms.

          What's on your CV?

          • by haruchai ( 17472 )

            "He was so stupid that among other things he was head of Screen Actor's Guild, Governor of California, and President of the USA for two terms"
            None of those automatically make for a highly intelligent person. Anyone who knows how to pander can do it.
            Trump is a good case in point

            • None of those automatically make for a highly intelligent person. Anyone who knows how to pander can do it.

              Knowing how to pander is itself an aspect of intelligence, and we even have a term to describe this, "social intelligence". Intelligence isn't just understanding mathematics, there are many aspects to intelligence and any kind of intelligence test worth mentioning will test many different aspects of one's intelligence. Excelling in one aspect of intelligence tends to lead to excelling in others but of course if excelling in one meant an equal grasp of the others then we would not be testing for such diffe

      • They say invention is 10% inspiration and 90% transpiration. The same goes for innovation: 10% is about the ideas themselves, 90% is about implementing them. That doesn't only require engineering, but also someone to direct those engineers, raise capital, make the right strategic decisions, spend the right amount of cash on the right stuff at the right time, hire the right guys, and build a strong executive team with similar capabilities. There's a hell of a lot more to it than luck, or being at the righ
        • The Edison quote is "10% inspiration and 90% perspiration."

          There are ideas like the people who figured out how to make CRISPR, and then there are ideas like "let's build electric cars and dig tunnels." One of these is not like the other.

      • Musk launches real engineering creds month after month from Florida, Texas and California. And yes, people would, it seems, buy a used booster from this man.

    • Don't know about specific people, but they seem to be disrupting a lot of entrenched industries.

      Traditional car manufacturers, car dealerships, oil and coal producers and users, automotive manufacturing unions, possible driving jobs in the future, the list goes on.
      I'm sure at least some of those industries are happy to spend a few million in lobbying and astroturfing, convincing workers their jobs are at risk, riling up people who think anything having to do with 'renewable energy' is a vast liberal conspir

    • A Mack truck from 1970 is hardly changed from 2017 ..ok they added a cup holder .. nobody has a problem with that?

      That's not a cup holder. That is the CD-ROM/DVD tray. You are using it wrong.

      Folks hate Tesla because they are jealous that Tesla is achieving so much amazing things.

    • Seems to me like Tesla's truck is a perfectly reasonable vehicle. At least on paper. It's surely targeted at fleet operators like Trashmart and J B Hunt who will presumably use it on fixed routes with their own charging stations at their depots. If it works out and their bean counters decide that it saves money, they will buy more and expand their charger network. If it doesn't save money or has other serious problems such as problems in snow and ice, they won't buy any more of them.

      Note that Tesla's au

      • Your assessment hit it right on the head. Long haul transport companies aren't looking at them because of the mileage range and what depots they may operate. If Pilot Flying J or Love's were to install chargers from which semis could charge you would see long haul route providers take a look at Tesla. My guess is that they are going to watch he success of the Tesla semi and if it looks like Tesla might provide something which can incorporate a sleeper cab then they'll probably announce plans to provide such

    • ok they added a cup holder

      Well, they had to put something in that space where the ashtray used to be. Getting rid of the ashtray was an improvement, no?

      Actually lots has changed since the 1970 Mack truck. They got more fuel efficient, have catalytic converters, electronic controls, and many other improvements that add to safety, comfort, and economy. They still burn diesel fuel, sure, but not the same kind of diesel fuel that they ran on 40 years ago since what we have now burns cleaner. The reason we still burn diesel fuel is b

  • I just don't get why everybody seems to think trucks can only be used for +1000 miles runs.

    • by Jzanu ( 668651 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @05:16AM (#55575747)
      Large capacity trucks require large service areas with repeating need up to capacity or smaller modes are cheaper. Distribution centers and cross-docking stations are required before trucks can be loaded for deliveries, and the path for delivery is managed carefully to coordinate with loading. Using LTL wastes space and is only effective in narrow circumstances for perishable goods, etc. Better then to use vans and cars for delivery in short trips to minimize total costs.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Too bad reality isn't on your side and trucks are used mostly for much shorter distances than 1000 miles.

        • by Jzanu ( 668651 )
          Learn to read better. The economic conditions required for large tractor trailer style trucks to be the best options must be satisfied or there are cheaper options. They can be used but it is not the most efficient cost effective option, and in business controllable costs must be minimized or you will not last long.
          • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @06:09AM (#55575869)

            Learn to read better. The economic conditions required for large tractor trailer style trucks to be the best options must be satisfied or there are cheaper options.

            Speaking of reading, the Tesla post from yesterday stated that 80% of US truck routes are 250 miles or less. That is well within the range of the Tesla solution, which was probably a justification to build the damn thing. Today, there are over 130 million trucks registered for commercial use in the US (not including personal trucks which are considered SUVs by DOT).

            They can be used but it is not the most efficient cost effective option, and in business controllable costs must be minimized or you will not last long.

            Mega-corps are becoming a rather dominant force in business, and those mega-corps build mega-stores. The kind of stores that justify larger truck haulers. When you provide an all-electric option with a million-mile warranty, that tends to be one hell of a justification for those "business controllable costs."

            • The store's vendors almost always go into a distribution center first, so the size of the store doesn't really matter, and large distribution centers aren't new. The actual industry trend is towards more frequent, smaller shipments.

          • by hey! ( 33014 )

            I thought the whole point that these trucks are significantly cheaper per mile to operate -- 22% less per mile, according to Tesla's predictions.

            If Tesla can actually deliver (and tha'ts a big if!) on a truck that is that much cheaper to run, the economics are a straightforward NPV calculation over the projected lifetime of the truck against the purchase price. And as usual as an individual investor your investment decisions depend on a lot of other things, like cash on hand and opportunity costs.

            There are

            • by Jzanu ( 668651 )
              The issue of truck size applies regardless of engine, that is the point the musk bots continually miss here. There are more factors involved with loading a truck and operating it on a route for effective delivery. A van is best with any engine over short distances with perishable loads so that it can run more often to reduce spoilage, etc.
      • Large capacity trucks require large service areas with repeating need up to capacity or smaller modes are cheaper. Distribution centers and cross-docking stations are required before trucks can be loaded for deliveries, and the path for delivery is managed carefully to coordinate with loading. Using LTL wastes space and is only effective in narrow circumstances for perishable goods, etc. Better then to use vans and cars for delivery in short trips to minimize total costs.

        Drayage is one area they would be useful; as JB Hunt points out, especially for containers on regular routes. Charging stations can be setup at endpoints for trips beyond the trucks capacity, no idling trucks emitting pollutants while they wait for their load, and if the port has space you could even leave the trucks at the port for charging and shuttle drivers to the trucks lessening the need to build charging stations elsewhere.

      • Better then to use vans and cars for delivery in short trips to minimize total costs.

        That may have been true before palletization, but since loads are on pallets, you need at least box trucks in the mix. You can't drive a fork lift into a van, nor can you reasonably use a pallet jack, so you can only load maximum two pallets onto it.

      • Why are you intermingling the tractor with the trailer? Since you seem to be familiar with the shipping industry, you know that the tractor can pull smaller trailers such as those used for LTL. In the US, the use of LTL freight over TL has increased year over year for many years now. Some of the largest US freight carriers are primarily LTL (Fedex Freight, for example).

    • Any trucker here able to shed light on what a typical long haul drive looks like? No sane person drives 800 miles in one go; one needs to rest every now and then, eat, etc. I imagine it's no different for truckers, in fact there's rules. EU rules say a trucker can drive at most 9 hours a day and must take 45 minutes of rest after 4.5 hours of driving (or take 2 breaks with one at least 30 minutes). That's long enough to fully recharge the truck, provided there's a supercharger station. So it seems to b
  • by Camembert ( 2891457 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @06:04AM (#55575863)
    I can’t be the only one thinking that the Tesla truck could be the basis for a very cool, very “James Bond bad guy” camper van?
  • I've watched the video clip and while it looks somewhat beautiful and interesting, it doesn't really convey the significance of this invention.
    • I've watched the video clip and while it looks somewhat beautiful and interesting,

      I think it's kind of odd looking and ugly. When it comes to trucks I think for looks it's hard to beat the slightly blocky Peterbilt ones with the shiny chrome thing on the front.

  • Since I live in a tropical climate I have never driven on snow. It appears to be very difficult and i wonder if an autonomous truck can drive over the snow and ice on Canada's roads in winter. That is asking quite a lot for any automated system as humans obviously can't handle it well at times.
    • Since I live in a tropical climate I have never driven on snow. It appears to be very difficult and i wonder if an autonomous truck can drive over the snow and ice on Canada's roads in winter. That is asking quite a lot for any automated system as humans obviously can't handle it well at times.

      An electric drivetrain is superior in ice and snow because it has dramatically superior traction control. Wheel slip can be detected by the car long before it can be detected by the driver, and it can be corrected by the car faster than most vehicles can even detect it.

  • Putting down a deposit on future trucks doesn't seem in character for Walmart. Maybe they are so large Tesla didn't require it?

  • Meanwhile in Canada Loblaws (the largest groceries chain and drug store chain) ordered 25 [thestar.com]. Earlier this month (November 2017) they displayed the all-electric class 8 truck [yahoo.com] delivered from BYD. Seems like Walmart is behind and so is Tesla.

    Though the truck from BYD doesn't have the range of the Tesla truck it seems to be aimed for local deliveries instead of the long-haul market.

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