Meijer at 'front of the line' to test Tesla's electric semi

Meijer has ordered four of Tesla's new electric semi-trucks.

WALKER, MICH. - After more than a decade of making cars and SUV's, Tesla wants to electrify a new type of vehicle—semi trucks. And, a West Michigan company is making an investment to test them.

Tesla unveiled its new electric semi-tractor-trailer Thursday, Nov. 16, near its design center in Hawthorne, California. They say the semi is capable of traveling 500 miles on an electric charge, and will be more cost effective than diesel semis.

More: Tesla Semi, an electric big rig truck with 500-mile range, rolls into reality

According to a report in Bloomberg, Meijer has made a $5,000 deposit on four of the tractor-trailers. Meijer released a statement confirming the company's investment:

"Meijer has always prided itself on being innovative, especially in our fleet and supply chain. We have made a small financial commitment to ensure we are at the front of the line to test this new Tesla truck technology, which has the potential to not only reduce our carbon footprint but also realize cost savings that will allow us to keep prices low for our customers. 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."

The electric trucks will also some with "auto pilot," a possible step toward self driving vehicles.  At a rest stop in Walker, truck driver John Edwards said he has his doubts about self driving technology.

"You can have auto pilot to a certain degree" he said. "But a truck cannot make the same decisions that a human being makes. A computer cannot function the same way that a human brain functions."

"It will automatically brake," explains Tesla founder Elon Musk. "It will automatically lane keep as well. This is a massive increase in safety."

Production on the new trucks will begin in 2019, Tesla did not say how much they will cost.

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