United Parcel Service is planning to add 125 Tesla electric semi-trucks to its fleet. The company said on December 19 that it is going to buy the trucks in an effort to expand its fleet of alternative-fuel vehicles

“These groundbreaking electric tractors are poised to usher in a new era in improved safety, reduced environmental impact, and reduced cost of ownership,” said UPS Chief Information and Engineering Officer Juan Perez in a statement.

UPS currently has trucks that are powered by propane, natural gas, electricity, and other non-traditional fuels. With the addition of the electric semi-trucks, UPS is hoping to reduce its absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 12 percent by 2025.

With the construction of its electric semi-trucks, Tesla hopes to convince the trucking industry that an electric big rig can be affordable and have the range and cargo capacity to compete with diesel trucks.

UPS’s pre-order is the biggest so far. Before that, the largest single pre-order came from PepsiCo Inc., for 100 trucks. Tesla has also received pre-orders from companies including Walmart, food service distributor Sysco Corp., and fleet operator J.B. Hunt Transport Services.

The electric semi-trucks will cost around $200,000 each. While traditional diesel-powered big rigs have a lower initial cost—about $120,000—UPS expects that the electric trucks will have a lower total cost of ownership.

The Tesla trucks will primarily be used in the U.S., and UPS is still determining the routes those trucks will take, in consultation with Tesla about support with charging stations along those routes.

“We have high expectations and are very optimistic that this will be a good product and it will have firm support from Tesla to make it work,” UPS Senior Director for Automotive Maintenance and Engineering for International Operations Scott Phillippi told Reuters. “As with any introductory technology for our fleet, we want to make sure it’s in a position to succeed.”

Including the UPS order, Tesla has at least 410 pre-orders for its electric semi-truck. The company expects the truck to be in production by 2019.

Photo: UPS already operates many trucks powered by alternative energy sources, and the electric semi-trucks will make the company’s fleet even more efficient. Credit: Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

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