Watch Tesla Semi do something Bill Gates said wasn’t possible

Tesla has released a timelapse video of its Tesla Semi electric truck completing a 500-mile trip with a full load on a single charge – something Bill Gates and Daimler said wasn’t possible just a few years ago.

When Tesla unveiled the original Tesla Semi prototype back in 2017, it changed the paradigm for what an electric truck could be: a battery-electric class 8 long-haul truck.

However, not everyone was convinced.

In 2020, three years after the prototype was originally unveiled, and around the time Tesla first said the vehicle would come to production, Bill Gates made some comments that threw cold water on the Tesla Semi project.

At the time, Gates and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, two of the richest men on earth, were in a dispute as the latter believed the former was shorting Tesla’s stock, which basically means financially betting against the company.

In a blog post, Gates argued that all-electric semi-trucks like the Tesla Semi would “probably never” work because batteries would be too heavy:

The problem is that batteries are big and heavy. The more weight you’re trying to move, the more batteries you need to power the vehicle. But the more batteries you use, the more weight you add—and the more power you need. Even with big breakthroughs in battery technology, electric vehicles will probably never be a practical solution for things like 18-wheelers, cargo ships, and passenger jets. Electricity works when you need to cover short distances, but we need a different solution for heavy, long-haul vehicles.

The billionaire founder of Microsoft couldn’t see class 8 battery-electric semi-trucks achieve a useful range while being able to carry a load.

Gates wasn’t the only one with doubts about Tesla Semi back then. We also reported on comments made by Daimler’s head of trucks, Martin Daum, who said that Tesla’s 500-mile range broke the laws of physics:

If Tesla really delivers on this promise, we’ll obviously buy two trucks — one to take apart and one to test because if that happens, something has passed us by. But for now, the same laws of physics apply in Germany and in California.

Daimler has since brought to market several of its own battery-electric trucks, but none of them has a range close to 500 miles.

But earlier this week, Tesla proved them wrong and announced that it completed a 500-mile trip with the Tesla Semi carrying a full load. At the Tesla Semi Delivery Event, Tesla shared some proof of the trip.

Tesla has now shared a full video timelapse of the entire 500-mile drive from Fremont to San Diego with a full load at almost 82,000 lb.:

Top comment by Angelo Mandato

Liked by 104 people

Honestly this is awesome. I think we all know it was possible but there is a window of how practical, and I see folks now still splitting hairs on weight of the truck changing 2-5% of the 82,000lb limit margin, I wouldn't bother debating. Writing is on the wall, most of the other semi manufacturers, school bus manufacturers, etc... are on the electric path. Deal with it.

Bill Gates and Musk are rivals and the competition is good between them, let them fight it out, it pushes innovation and they both know it. I think the bigger shock for me is that so many really smart folks think they need to pick a side here. They are both flawed men and they changed the world for the better, in most cases anyway.

The real point here is that this does not replace ICE but significantly reduces their utility. For example they will still be needed for trucking to really far distances in very remote places, e.g. far north Canada/Alaska until some other hugely significant innovation comes in battery/energy tech.

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When Tesla first announced it earlier this week without proof, many naysayers were claiming that there would be some caveats – even claiming that Tesla didn’t say it was on a single charge, but the video shows a continuous drive with a single break without charging over 500 miles.

It looks like Tesla Semi can have an even greater range since it completed the 500-mile trip with a 97% state of charge and had 4% left at the end:

When releasing the data on stage, Musk swore that they were no tricks to it either. It was a production truck that just came off the line without modification and they drove at highway speeds when possible.

The truck also had to go through The Grapevine and climb quite a bit. On a flatter route, it could likely achieve a range closer to 600 miles.

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Avatar for Fred Lambert Fred Lambert

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