Austin-based Tesla Inc. has approached the U.S. federal government with a funding request for almost $100 million to realize a plan to create an electric vehicle charging network for semi-trucks.
The pioneering electric car manufacturer seeks to develop a network of electric semi charging stations to serve long-haulers traveling between Laredo on the southern border of Texas and northern California.
The plans were disclosed by Tesla executives in emails to the Texas Department of Transportation in May and June asking for a letter of support as part of a bid to benefit from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal passed in November 2021, according to Bloomberg.
As covered previously in The Dallas Express, this deal will funnel more than $35 billion alone in taxpayer money to Texas for infrastructure improvements over the next five years.
Tesla aims to qualify for $97 million in federal grants targeting transportation improvements while deploying renewable energy sources. The company would invest another $24 million of its own capital in the project.
The details of its project include constructing nine electric charging stations tailored for semi-trucks. Each station would be equipped with eight 750-kilowatt chargers exclusively for Tesla trucks and four additional chargers for trucks from other brands.
Grant applications are currently being reviewed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, a representative told Bloomberg. The recipients won’t be announced for another few months.
This isn’t Tesla’s first foray into electric trucking. Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed the Tesla Semi in 2017, describing it as a “badass” vehicle, according to The Texan.
Since then, the company has delivered 21 electric semi-trucks to PepsiCo, which has been operating them from an entirely solar-powered facility in Sacramento for up to 12 hours a day.
In Texas, Tesla has been gaining ground, for instance, with the recent decision of the Texas Transportation Commission to approve new requirements mandating that electric vehicle charging stations feature Tesla-branded connectors in order for them to be eligible for federal taxpayer money, as previously reported in The Dallas Express.
Yet as the adoption of electric vehicles accelerates, some environmental concerns persist over battery disposal challenges.
Elements such as cobalt, nickel, and manganese in the batteries pose potential environmental hazards.
Not only is it cheaper for battery makers to buy newly mined metals than to use recycled materials, but at the moment, they “are really not designed to be recycled,” as Dana Thompson, a materials scientist and research fellow at the Faraday Institution, told Science.