Will electric trucks spawn a revolution in the supply chain?

view of moving cars on a motorway at dawn

With the current trends in technological advancement, the supply chain could be at the cusp of a revolutionary change, at least if Elon Musk gets his way.

Among other technological marvels like reusable rockets and a plan to colonize Mars, Musk has his sights on developing efficient, electric long-haul trucks that will eventually replace the diesel-powered fleets of the world. The challenges to developing an electric semi-truck are significant. The added weight of huge batteries means the trucks are limited in the amount of cargo they can carry. Current battery technology also means that the range of the vehicles may be well below the longest-range diesel-powered trucks currently on the roads.

When you think about it, the biggest stumbling block to the development of a competitive long-haul semi truck is friction. Batteries are physically heavy, causing drag (friction) and requiring an enormous amount of energy to move them. The cost of the batteries themselves is another major point of friction that puts electric cargo haulers at a disadvantage when compared to the economic efficiency of traditional trucks.

Despite these hurdles, forward-thinking business leaders like Elon Musk refuse to simply roll over and give up. These frictional challenges actually serve as inspiration for new ways of solving complex problems. Other facets of the supply chain have also benefited from advancements in technology and automation. As electronic invoicing and P2P payment systems have moved from analog, paper-based platforms to more efficient and data-driven models, cost savings and valuable business insights have followed. Similarly, the benefits that technology will bestow on the physical supply chain will also lead to increased efficiencies and cost reductions in the delivery of goods.

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