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DHL: Tesla Semi could pay for itself in 18 months

Elon Musk suggests the final production Semi will beat Tesla's announced specs for the same price.

An executive at DHL has been punching the numbers ahead of the Tesla Semi arrival and believes the all-electric trucks could pay for themselves in less than two years.

"We are estimating that we could have pay back within a year-and-a-half based on energy usage as well as lower maintenance cost," DHL transportation president Jim Monkmeyer told Reuters. "The maintenance savings can be enormous as well. Just because the engines are much simpler in terms of the number of parts and the complexities of the parts."

Monkmeyer suggests the biggest lingering issue with rolling out a fleet of Tesla Semis involves the transition from traditional refueling processes to electric charging.

"The biggest issue is going to be how is that grid provided and how is it supported and how quickly can we get a network out there for use nationwide, throughout North America, throughout the world," he noted.

Tesla has promised to deliver a 20-percent reduction in per-mile operating costs compared to diesel trucks, though the estimate centers around current prices for fossil fuels.

Responding to the DHL reports, Tesla chief Elon Musk hinted that the Semi would offer an even wider advantage over diesel trucks than the company had initially estimated.

"Am feeling optimistic about beating the Semi specs announced at the unveiling for the same price," he said. "The Tesla Semi will be something really special."