Battery-Powered Big Rigs Could Haul the Future of Trucking

By Chris Bentley
May 7, 2024 10:00 AM ET
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Eric Tutorow in Manteca, Calif., with one of the Tesla electric semi trucks he drives for Frito-Lay. Courtesy of WBUR - Chris Bentley/Here & Now

Originally published by WBUR (NPR), listen to the full segment here.

In Modesto, California, a Dorito is born.

Millions of chips roll out of Frito-Lay’s factory every day, riding miles of conveyor belts through deep fryers, flavor dusters and bagging machines. Once they’re finished, they make the first leg of their journey to corner stores and groceries all over the world on electric trucks.

This 500,000-square-foot factory, one of Frito-Lay’s biggest, replaced its entire diesel-burning fleet with cleaner vehicles last year, from battery-powered forklifts to electric semis, built by Tesla.

Eric Tutorow hauls trailers full of Doritos and Cheetos from Modesto to distribution centers in the region. Inside the cab of his electric truck, the loudest thing besides the radio is the turn signal.

“You don’t hear the engine noise,” Tutorow says. “After driving this many years, it’s kind of nice not to go home with a headache from road noise.”

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