Anheuser-Busch Makes Major Investment in Tesla Self-Driving Trucks
Back in October 2016, a driverless truck carried 2,000 cases of Budweiser from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs in Colorado, the first beer delivery of its kind. The 132-mile journey eventually was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “Longest continuous journey by a driverless and autonomous semitrailer truck.” It’s the kind of stunt that had good optics all around: Anheuser-Busch said at the time that it demonstrated its desire to “help pioneer technology.” Meanwhile, Otto, the company behind the technology, certainly got more press shipping one of America’s best-selling beers than if the cargo had been a bunch of old paint cans. But turns out simply calling this driverless test a “stunt” would be misguided: Anheuser-Busch announced that the brand has preordered 40 semi-trucks from electric vehicle company Tesla – and not only are these trucks fully electric-powered, they’re also equipped with autonomous driving capabilities. Turns out driverless trucks may really be the future of beer shipping.
“At Anheuser-Busch, we are constantly seeking new ways to make our supply chain more sustainable, efficient, and innovative,” James Sembrot, Senior Director of Logistics Strategy, said of the preorder of the trucks, described as one of Telsa’s largest orders to date. “This investment in Tesla semi-trucks helps us achieve these goals while improving road safety and lowering our environmental impact.” The beer brand said it’s part of Anheuser-Busch’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint by 30 percent by 2025.
However, just because the order is in, doesn’t mean the future is now. According to Fortune, Tesla’s semis, which debuted last month, aren’t actually set to go into production until 2019. And that’s assuming production remains on the trucks, which cost $180,000 each, stays on schedule, an ongoing concern for the growing Tesla brand. Even then, though Anheuser-Busch will be able to see the immediate benefits of the trucks’ electric capabilities, the legal ramifications of using autonomous vehicles still vary significantly from state to state. Essentially, Anheuser-Busch’s order is a major step forward for two well-known companies, but it’ll likely be some time before driverless Bud deliveries are the norm.