Reuters has seen email discussions of potential road tests being negotiated between the company, which for a brief period this year was named the most profitable auto company in America, and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Like Volvo, Tesla is working on platooning technology that would allow big rigs to travel in a convoy, with vehicles in back receiving info about traffic, road hazards, and other important details from the truck in front.
While Tesla is yet to officially unveil its next-generation electric semi truck, a report in Reuters added a new turn to the already swirling rumors by claiming that the next-generation truck will have self-driving capabilities.
CEO Elon Musk revealed during Tesla's 2017 Shareholder meeting that the company has been meeting with several heavy-duty trucking companies on development of a Tesla Semi prototype that can be driven like a "sports car". Tesla has also reached out to California DMV to talk about its "efforts with autonomous trucks".
Tesla has been a leader in developing self-driving technology for its luxury cars, and is about to start manufacturing the lower-priced Model 3 vehicle.
Tesla may be able to tap into and fill a void left by ride-hailing giant Uber.
It also offers most of the trucks decreased wind resistance, which could help increase an EV semi's range-a major concern given the weight freight companies load semis with.
Uber has also moved in a similar direction, acquiring the self-driving truck company Otto past year. The Nevada DMV confirms officials met with Tesla, but said the company has not filed an application to get a testing license.
Tesla's truck program is being led by VP of Trucks and Programs Jerome Guillen who has a long history in the long-haul trucking industry, having previously worked at Diamler and was General Manager of New Product Development at Freightliner Trucks. Tesla declined to comment.