An Electric Semi Definitely Won’t Work—But Seven in a Row Might

The basic concept behind platooning is that trucks driving in close alignment significantly reduce aerodynamic drag, boosting the overall energy efficiency of the fleet. Tesla is set to unveil its electric truck at an event next month, which promises to shed more light on the company’s strategy.

But following the Reuters report, battery researchers at Carnegie Mellon University decided to take a close look at this possibility. They concluded that platooning could make heavy-duty trucks more cost competitive, at least with enough semis, according to a study in ACS Energy Letters published Thursday. The sweet spot appears to be seven vehicles driving together on trips shorter than 300 miles, which would reduce aerodynamic drag by 50 percent.