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Call of the week: Tesla truck could be 'biggest catalyst' in trucking in decades

Tesla (TSLA) is about to reveal something that could be the “biggest catalyst” in the trucking industry in decades, according to Morgan Stanley.

Analysts Adam Jonas, Ravi Shanker and team are referring to Tesla’s highly anticipated electric Class 8 semi-truck. We still don’t know a definite launch date, but the firm pegs the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta on Sept. 25 as the likely date for the announcement.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk first announced plans for an electric truck in a blog post last year, writing that it was in the early stages of development and would be ready to unveil in 2017. Musk then offered more clues on timing in April, tweeting the electric automaker would reveal a Class 8 semi-truck in September. But what was it? He’s kept the details secret. Only one “teaser” picture of the semi has been released.

So with limited information, Wall Street analysts have been speculating for months about what the new vehicle will include and how it will impact the transportation sector. In a note to clients, Morgan Stanley wrote that it expects Tesla’s semi to be 70% cheaper to operate than a regular truck and has high hopes it will have “significant autonomous/autopilot capabilities.” The analysts also added it would put pressure on other truck makers and suppliers to “show their hand on intelligent, EV truck plans.”

And Tesla may not be the only one to benefit from its semi. Shankar and Jonas predict the automaker will partner with large truck carriers and shippers to run test fleets, naming Schneider National (SNDR), FedEx (FDX), XPO Logistics (XPO), U.S. Xpress and Ryder (R) as likely contenders.

Tesla’s stock was last trading down 2% in afternoon trading on Friday, but has jumped nearly 61% so far this year, compared to the S&P 500’s 10% gain.