- Anheuser-Busch has ordered 40 Tesla Semi trucks, according to CNBC. The U.S. division of beverage giant AB InBev has not yet determined if it will buy or lease the hauling vehicles, but its order reserves the vehicles for them.
- Tesla’s semitrailers will be electric, with a 500-mile range, and have the auto maker's semi-autonomous autopilot system. Anheuser-Busch will use the trucks to ship beer to wholesalers within 150 to 200 miles of its brewery locations, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- This is the latest move by the brewer to reduce its operational carbon footprint by 30% by 2025.
Stealthy electric semitrailers don’t conjure up the same nostalgic feelings as Clydesdales prancing in the snow, but Tesla’s new trucks could help Anheuser-Busch’s image all the same.
The company's pre-order for 40 trucks is another step on its path to reduce its operational carbon footprint by 2025. Currently, the parent company of Budweiser spends roughly $120 million a year on beer transportation fuel costs. These new semis will be just a small percentage of it’s dedicated fleet of 750 trucks that will help it drive down costs, if only by a negligible amount to start. The fuel-free vehicles are slated for delivering shipments from wholesalers to brewery locations within 150 to 200 miles.
Consumers hoping the savings on the gas bill will translate into cheaper beer are likely to be disappointed. There have been no announcements that the average bottle of Bud is going down in price as a result of the Tesla investment, in part because delivery is still several years away and 40 trucks amounts to a small portion of the company's overall fleet.
Anheuser-Busch would do well to advertise that it's investing in trucks that will help reduce its carbon footprint. A cheeky Super Bowl ad pitting the brewer’s iconic Clydesdales against the electric semis could already be in the works. As consumers increasingly value a company’s environmental responsibility, this can only improve its image.
According to Nielsen, 66% of all consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands. Big Food has taken notice and made changes.
Unilever launched what it calls its Sustainable Living Plan, focusing on developing new business practices that reduce the company’s environmental impact. Mars recently pledged $1 billion to fight climate change as part of the company’s Sustainable in a Generation Plan. Earlier this fall, the food maker’s M&M’s candy brand launched a "Fans of Wind" energy campaign that features celebrities — including M&M characters Red and Yellow — extolling the virtues of wind power.
Now, Tesla is offering food and beverage makers a new way to not only save money, but help the environment.
Anheuser-Busch is among a few food and grocery companies interested in the new Tesla trucks. Walmart has reserved Semis, and food distributor Sysco this week ordered 50 of the new trucks. If they perform well when they’re released in a couple of years, expect Tesla’s list of interested parties in the food space to grow.