Thursday night, Tesla CEO Elon Musk finally revealed the company’s much anticipated electric semi truck.
Telsa’s semi looks like the future of trucking with an aesthetically distinct look that will no doubt help it stand out from other commercial freight vehicles on the road today.
It also boasts a considerable charge capacity with a range of 500 miles on a single charge, and has a better drag coefficient than a super car thanks to its extremely aerodynamic design. Its aerodynamic body make it more than twice as quick as a traditional diesel truck, going 0 – 60 in 20 seconds with a full 80,000 load.
The truck offers a transmission that requires no shifting of gears and has regenerative braking that provides brake life that is “basically infinite,” and can recapture 98% of braking energy into the battery.
“We are guaranteeing this truck won’t break down for a million miles,” said Musk. This is because the new truck has four motors, so “Even if you only have two of those four motors running it will still beat a diesel truck.”
“Tesla Semi can also travel in a convoy, where on or several Semi trucks will be able to autonomously follow a lead Semi,” reducing the cost per mile of the Tesla Semi, even beating the cost of rail transportation.
Musk also noted that the truck is expected to save $200k on fuel alone over 1 million miles, something that resonated well with fleet owners.
But while the Tesla Semi may look and read like a game-changer, the trucking world isn’t waiting on Tesla and is already rolling out electric truck designs of their own.
Daimler AG announced their plans last month. Siemens is already running trials with three trucks on a congested street near Long Beach in Southern California powered by overhead pantographs that grab power from hanging cables much like a street car. Toyota too is running its Project Portal, a hydrogen-powered 18-wheeler around the Port of Los Angeles.
And then there are the jet-inspired trucks. Tesla co-founder Ian Wright is building a turbine-powered garbage truck to get rid of the obnoxiously loud diesel grumble and noxious black fumes that follow trucks through the streets. This turbine—which is fuel powered—switches on when the truck’s battery runs out, making this a true hybrid and is already on the streets as part of a trial with FedEx.
Whatever strategy, or strategies, prevail, it’s clear that Tesla isn’t the only player in the game and experienced truck builders are already as optimistic about electrification, and may prove to be better equipped to expedite getting their trucks on the road.
Tesla said it will begin production on its Semi in 2019, but the company is notorious for missing production deadlines and is already in “production hell” with its critical Model 3. But regardless of whether or not Tesla makes its deadline, electric trucks and all their benefits are already hitting the streets.