Last week, ‘Tesla Semi’, the automaker’s upcoming all-electric heavy truck, got an official release date: September 28th.
That’s just 4 months away and we think it could hit production, at least low volume production for pilot fleets, quicker than most people think.
Until then, here’s everything we know about Tesla Semi.
Ahead of the unveiling, Tesla CEO Elon Musk already released quite a bit of information about the vehicle since showing the first teaser last month.
Industry watchers speculated that an all-electric wouldn’t be able to support heavy loads on long distances, but Musk claims that Tesla Semi has the “highest weight capability and with long-range”:
“It is a heavy duty, long range, semi-truck. So it has the highest weight capability and with long range. So essentially it’s meant to alleviate the heavy duty trucking loads. And this is something which people do not, today, think is possible. They think the truck doesn’t have enough power or it doesn’t have enough range. And then with those with the Tesla semi we want to show that no, an electric truck actually can out-torque any diesel semi and if you had a tug-of-war competition, the Tesla semi what will tug the diesel semi uphill.”
It means we are likely talking about a class 8 truck here which has a load limit of 80,000 pounds with typical load maxing out at 40,000 pounds with the truck itself weighing at ~35,000 pounds.
That’s for diesel trucks. It will be interesting to know the balance of that with an all-electric truck, which will undoubtedly require a lot of relatively heavy battery packs.
The battery packs could be the same found in the Model 3 since Musk also confirmed that the two vehicles will share a lot of components, which is also a good indicator that Tesla is planning a production sooner rather than later.
The CEO said that Tesla Semi will use “a bunch” of Model 3 electric motors.
He also confirmed that Tesla currently has a prototype in testing and he even got a quick test drive around the parking lot. He added that the truck “feels like a sports car”:
“I mean it’s quite bizarre to test drive it. You know, when I was driving the test prototype for the first truck, it’s really weird because you’re driving around and you’re just so nimble and you’re in this giant truck.”
We also know that the all-electric truck program at Tesla is led by Jerome Guillen, Tesla’s former Model S Program Director and VP of Vehicle Engineering. Before joining Tesla, Guillen was an executive at Daimler where he successfully led the development of the Cascadia semi truck program.
He arguably has the perfect experience to bring Tesla Semi to market since he previously led an all-electric vehicle program to market and a semi-truck program to market – both vehicles also ended up leading their respective segments.Finally, the vehicle is expected to feature some autonomous driving capabilities, but it’s not clear to what level yet. The teaser image shows that there are no side view mirrors, which indicates either autonomous driving or at least cameras.
Though Musk emphasized the driving experience of the vehicle on several occasion and he even said that Tesla aims to make it “really fun to operate” in his ‘Master Plan‘. In November 2016, Musk said that drivers will still be required for “a few years.”
There are still a lot of unknowns like the actual range and energy capacity, the cost, and the charging infrastructure. Let us know your expectations in the comment section below.