The Tesla Semi is struggling to take off, in part due to a lack of charging stations for EV big rigs in America. Tesla itself admits that the Semi is still in “pilot production,” according to Bloomberg, but the company is now asking the U.S. to subsidize a new charging corridor from Texas to California that would cost $97 million to build.
The corridor would enable EV long-haul trucking from the Texas-Mexico border to the West Coast of the U.S., as well as regional EV hauls within Texas, Arizona and California. Tesla reportedly plans to pitch in $24 million of its own money to build the new EV truck corridor, which would span 1,800 miles from the city of Laredo, Texas, to the state of California, possibly somewhere along the southern shore of the Golden State.
Tesla told the Texas Department of Transportation that each of the new nine charging stations along the corridor — dubbed “megachargers” by Elon Musk’s company — would accommodate up to eight Tesla Semi big rigs and four EV trucks from competitors. The charging stations would be outfitted with 750-kilowatt chargers, presumably for all twelve of the trucks that can charge at once. In total, that would come out to 108 chargers available for use along the corridor, which means each one of these plugs would cost roughly $900,000.
Tesla is seeking federal grant money to shoulder the cost of the EV charging route, the money coming from the bipartisan deal reached by legislators known as the U.S. Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. One of the deal’s goals is to modernize the U.S. transit system, which is why Tesla is bidding for a cut of the funds. The EV maker even asked Texas officials to write a letter in support of the project, to be included in the company’s application for federal funding, per Bloomberg. The federal government is reportedly reviewing the applications, and it doesn’t expect to make a decision until later this year.
If Tesla gets the millions in federal money that it’s seeking to build the 1,800-mile route, the corridor would be the first-of-its-kind in the country. Such long distance EV hauls are already possible in Europe, as Volvo showed with its record-breaking produce delivery, but the U.S. is struggling to catch up.
Volvo and Pilot have hinted at the possibility of charging networks sprawling across the U.S., but those projects have yet to materialize. So, it’s possible that other EV truck makers are likewise vying for grant money from the federal government, and it seems the race is on for funds needed to get EV truck networks off the ground. Bloomberg reports that it’s still unclear if Tesla would move forward with the project if the U.S. denies its application for funding.