Tesla Presents All-Electric Truck Line

Tesla semi truck electric vehicle Elon Musk
Elon Musk presents Tesla’s new semi-truck. Credit: Tesla on Twitter

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled prototypes of the company’s new all-electric truck to a cheering crowd, the New York Times reported. Called the Tesla Semi, the electric truck will be able to get 500 miles on a single charge, Musk promised.

Musk has his sights set on the global trucking industry with a prototype he says will be more efficient, faster, and ultimately less expensive to operate than the diesel trucks on the roads now.

Here are the truck’s features, according to Tesla’s site:

  • Acceleration: 0 to 60 MPH with 80,000 pounds: 20 seconds
  • Speed up a 5% Grade: 65 MPH
  • Mile range: 300 or 500 miles
  • Powertrain: four independent motors on rear axles
  • Energy consumption: less than 2 kilowatt-hours per mile
  • Fuel savings: $200,000+

The new battery-powered semi-truck will also have a version of Tesla Autopilot, which helps drivers with braking, acceleration, and obstacle avoidance.

During his presentation at an airfield outside of Los Angeles, Musk didn’t specify a price for the Tesla Semi but hinted that it would be expensive, the New York Times reported. Some of the high cost should be offset by the vehicle’s components, which Musk says will require less maintenance than diesel trucks because there’s no drive shaft, transmission, or engine.

“Tesla is estimating it will cost $1.26 per mile to operate, compared with $1.51 a mile for a diesel truck,” the New York Times reported. “The cost can fall further — to 85 cents a mile, according to Tesla — if groups of trucks travel together in convoys, which reduces wind drag.”

New York Times reporter Neal E. Boudette pointed out that Tesla has serious competition in the electric truck space. “Last month, Daimler demonstrated an electric tractor-trailer,” he wrote. “Embark, a Silicon Valley start-up, said this week that it had begun using self-driving trucks to transport Frigidaire refrigerators from a warehouse in El Paso to a distribution center 650 miles away.”

In the meantime, Pittsburgh-based Hyliion introduced a patented system to convert long-haul diesel trucking fleets into hybrid ones, promising up to 30% fuel and emissions savings. Company executives said in October that they already had $20 million in pre-orders.

With the addition of Tesla’s truck line, Musk has his hands full. He’s deploying Tesla Powerpacks in Puerto Rico to help rebuild the decimated grid. There’s the giant battery storage project underway in Australia. And on top of the truck announcement, Tesla unveiled a new Roadster.

The company posted a $671 million loss for the quarter and may suffer a big hit stateside if the tax credit for electric vehicle buyers gets eliminated. Industry analysts — and prospective buyers — are watching Tesla closely.

Musk didn’t give an exact date for when the Tesla Semi would go on sale, but said during his presentation in California that the company expects to start producing them by the end of 2019.

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