There could be more beer-delivering driverless trucks on America’s highways in the near future.
Anheuser-Busch today announced it has reserved 40 self-driving electric semi-trucks from Tesla for its fleet. It’s one of the highest-profile orders by a major brand since Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the vehicles in November.
According to Anheuser-Busch, which owns a variety of beer brands from staples like Budweiser to craft brews like Goose Island, the preorder is part of an ongoing focus on making the company more “sustainable, efficient and innovative.” By 2025, it seeks to reduce its carbon footprint by 30 percent, which the company says would be the same as removing 500,000 cars from roads every year. Since beginning the initiative five years ago, A-B says it’s already reduced its emissions by 17.5 percent.
The beer company has a long history of technological experimentation. James Sembrot, the company’s senior director of logistics strategy, said Anheuser-Busch co-founder Adolphus Busch pioneered the use of refrigerated rail cars to ship beer long distances, adding that Busch was an earlier investor in diesel energy and produced diesel engines.
“Whether it be refrigerators, rail cars or ice houses that we had to build 100 years ago, or adoption of pasture in the brewing process, or the development and funding of the diesel engine to now self-driving trucks, it continues the spirit of innovation,” Sembrot told Adweek.
While the decision to order 40 trucks, which cost around $150,000 each, is A-B’s biggest play into the future of automated vehicles, it’s not the company’s first foray into driverless technology. Last year, it partnered with Otto, the Uber-owned startup focused on self-driving trucks, to fulfill an automated beer delivery while driving from Fort Collins, Colo., to Colorado Springs. It’s also not the first company to preorder Tesla has received. In November, Walmart announced it’s reserving 15 of the new trucks.
The vehicles, which won’t be available until 2019, will be able to travel either 300 miles or 500 miles depending on the battery size, according to Sembrot. The company hasn’t decided which states might be receiving them first, but he said the company will “decide where in our network it makes sense to deploy these units.” (He said the company usually completes around 1 million deliveries a year.)
So how many beers will these self-driving trucks hold? Based on the usual payload size, Sembrot said, the Tesla trucks will be able to hold 51,744 12-ounce cans of Budweiser or Bud Light.
“A lot of beers,” he said.