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Tesla's teaser photo of the semi. (Tesla)

Wall Street's most prominent Tesla bull says an electric semi-truck that the company plans to unveil later this month might be 70% cheaper to operate than conventional diesel-powered vehicles, and may ignite a fierce contest to dominate a nascent market in intelligent trucks.

In a Sept. 6 note to clients, Morgan Stanley's auto team said it expects Tesla CEO Elon Musk to start taking $5,000 refundable deposits on the truck right after the unveiling, using the same method that in 2016 created outsized buzz around his Model 3 mainstream electric sedan. If the truck attracts thousands of orders — which the note's lead author, Ravi Shanker, said he considers a likelihood — Musk will create pressure on rivals to compete, and fleet owners to order even more trucks.

The bottom line: Shanker thinks semi-trucks will turn into a several-billion-dollar-a-year business for Tesla.

"If the order book fills up quickly," Shanker wrote, "any carrier that holds back placing its order could potentially have to wait several years to get its hands on a Tesla truck, years during which its competitors could be running with up to a 70% cost advantage."

In other speculation and observations, Shanker wrote:

  • The truck to be revealed later this month will be a concept vehicle or a prototype and not meant for sale.
  • The final semi will go on sale in 2020.
  • To keep the cost down to $100,000, it will come without a battery.
  • Tesla will use a swapping system so that truckers won't have to wait for the battery to recharge.
  • The truck will be capable of autonomous "platooning," the system whereby driverless trucks are digitally connected and thus can follow behind a human-driven lead truck.
  • Tesla could earn $11 billion in revenue from semi sales by 2028 by selling 25,000 new trucks a year, and servicing them and their batteries.
  • Tesla has been testing the semi on public roads for several months.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
23 mins ago - Technology

Windows goes to 11

Screenshot: Axios

Microsoft on Thursday offered a first look at the next version of Windows, dubbed Windows 11, which is coming this holiday season. The new version changes both the look of the operating system as well as the underlying business model.

Why it matters: Windows has been steadily losing market share on the desktop, which has itself lost prominence to smartphones.

Pelosi announces select committee to investigate Jan. 6 Capitol riot

Nancy Pelosi speaking during a press conference on June 17. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Thursday that she will create a House select committee to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Why it matters: The creation of a single Democratic-controlled special committee, which will consolidate several House investigations, comes after Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have established a bipartisan 9/11-style commission.

U.S. Latinos earn less, die earlier in segregated areas

A rally in rally in Brooklyn, N.Y., protesting Latino segregation in October 2015. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

U.S. Latinos have a higher life expectancy and earn more yearly income when they live in racially mixed neighborhoods compared to areas that are predominantly Black or Latino, an analysis finds.

Why it matters: The study by the University of California Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute released this week shows the physical and economic toll on Latinos as cities become more segregated.

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