Probably the biggest surprise to come out of Elon Musk’s ‘Master Plan Part 2’ is that Tesla is developing a semi truck set to be unveiled next year. Although completely in line with its mission to accelerate the advent of electric transport, it’s still a whole new business for Tesla.
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All-electric trucks are rare. BYD developed a model, which it started recently testing in a pilot project in the port of Los Angeles, but it is still a small, almost nonexistent, business.
Here’s the relevant part of the ‘Master Plan‘:
“In addition to consumer vehicles, there are two other types of electric vehicle needed: heavy-duty trucks and high passenger-density urban transport. Both are in the early stages of development at Tesla and should be ready for unveiling next year. We believe the Tesla Semi will deliver a substantial reduction in the cost of cargo transport, while increasing safety and making it really fun to operate.”
While most people following Tesla anticipated that the company would eventually venture into cargo transport, I think it’s fairly surprising that they would do it so soon. Though we are only talking about an unveiling of the vehicle here, we still don’t know when it will be available.
Tesla simply investing in this sector is a good sign of where they are in term of battery technology and where they aim to be. Carrying cargo takes a lot of energy and doing it with only electricity is a challenge.
Coincidently, a new company called ‘Nikola Motor’ recently unveiled its concept for an electric truck and its plans to revolutionize the trucking industry. It’s first truck, called the ‘Nikola One’ (pictured above), will be equipped with a 320 kWh battery pack, which is fairly big, but most of its expected 1,200 miles of range will be achieved with a natural gas range extender.
On the other hand, Tesla made it clear that it would only make all-electric vehicles and it will likely hold up for trucks, despite the challenge.
Tesla also plans to bring to market a pickup truck, which Musk referred to as ‘a new kind of pickup truck’. Based on the phrasing, it sounds like the pickup is in a more advanced stage of development than ‘Tesla Semi’.