Meijer will give Tesla electric semi-trucks a try

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

One of Tesla Inc.’s newest clients has been nabbed from the Detroit Three’s backyard.

Michigan-based Meijer said Friday that the grocer and discount retailer will test four of Tesla’s new all-electric semi trucks when they come available after production starts in 2019. Tesla requires a $5,000 down payment per vehicle for those who want to test them.

It’s a small investment, Meijer spokesman Frank Gugliemi said in an email. The truck’s purported 500-mile range (carrying 80,000 pounds and driving at 60 mph) could allow Meijer to reduce emissions and save some money.

Tesla has a history of missing self-imposed deadlines and poor quality in early models, but the company is offering Meijer something no other automaker can: clean, efficient trucks that could cost less to run.

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“Once our testing is complete, we will validate several factors, including environmental impact and product safety, and make a decision on whether we will complete the purchase,” he said in an email.

The Michigan company isn’t the only retailer planning to test the trucks. Walmart told CNBC that it will test the new vehicle. Like Meijer, chain wants to reduce its emissions footprint.

Meijer currently runs a fleet of 250 semi-trucks that drive nearly 25 million miles every year to the chain’s 235 stores in the midwest and Kentucky. The company has earning awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for keeping emissions low throughout the fleet.

Meijer wanted to be first in line for Tesla’s new product.

“Meijer has always prided itself on being innovative, especially in our fleet and supply chain,” said Guglielmi. “We have made a small financial commitment to ensure we are at the front of the line to test this new Tesla truck technology.”

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau