You are very unlikely to get it Tesla Semi. There are reasons to be interested in a large electric vehicle, though.
Chief executive Elon Musk unveiled the truck on Thursday night to unveil the first deliveries of the giant machines. PepsiCo, which ordered 100 Tesla Semis in 2017 when the truck debuted. Tesla missed the initial deadline to launch In 2019, Tesla sells Semisbut now builds them in a factory in Sparks, Nevada.
“It’s a beast,” Musk said of the Tesla Semi, showing a video of one passing other trucks heading uphill with 82,000 pounds of cargo.
No, it’s not a car most of us will ever drive. But Tesla’s 18-wheeler may be important to us as the company continues to push for big changes in the auto industry. Here’s why.
Electric vehicles do not directly emit carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas that causes climate change, and neither do power plants as the electricity grid goes green. Transportation accounts for 27% of US greenhouse gas emissions, so electrification is an important step in achieving net zero carbon emissions goals.
Trucks are a key part of this change, so the US Post Office, UPS and Amazon covers all electric trucks for local shipping. Long-haul hauling is more difficult because the Tesla Semi’s 500-mile range requires larger batteries.
Musk said semi-trucks account for only 1% of US vehicle production and 20% of emissions. “You have a huge car and it’s constantly being driven,” he said. “The company’s mission is to accelerate sustainable energy.”
This advantage in carbon emissions is due to the truck’s success. In 2017, the company promised a starting price of $150,000, but it’s unclear how much Tesla Semis will cost or how many Teslas will produce.
A major limitation will be filling the infrastructure. Truck drivers are required to stop periodically, a convenient time to charge, but until there are more charging stations, Tesla Semis will be limited to a limited geography.
The Tesla Semi’s computer-controlled and responsive electric motor drivetrain offers advantages in traction and stability control to make trucks, at least in principle, safer for everyone on the road. The truck’s software control system will stop the truck from jackknifing, Musk said.
All of this remains to be tested, so it’s unclear how well the Tesla Semi will meet those ambitions, but it’s true that electric cars offer some advantages.
The Tesla Semi, like all electric cars, uses regenerative braking that injects energy back into the battery when it slows down. When driving down long grades, this means the brakes don’t overheat.
“That’s why you have lanes where trucks run,” said Dan Priestley, Tesla’s general manager of truck engineering, speaking at the event. With regenerative braking, “It’s a safer system for everyone on the road.”
Another possible safety benefit could come with Tesla’s autonomous vehicle technology. Although not yet fully delivered level 4 self-driving car technology Tesla is shipping cars that can use the same system for safety features like automatic braking and steering, alerting drowsy drivers and tightening seat belts if the car anticipates a collision.
Musk did not provide any details about the autonomous driving technology in the Tesla Semi.
Fast charging for Tesla Cybertrucks
To charge the giant Tesla Semi battery, Tesla will run new transmission chargers capable of pumping more than one megawatt of power. That’s enough to charge 10,000 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops at the same time, and is much higher than conventional Supercharger stations today, which typically offer 150-250 kilowatts.
Musk said high-power charging stations will also be available for drivers of Tesla’s Cybertruck, a sharp-angled pickup model. Its larger size compared to Tesla’s Model 3, Y, S and X cars means it has a bigger battery.
To handle that much current, the charger’s power cables use internal liquid cooling, Priestley said. “We can push a lot of current in a very, very small space,” he said.
Cybertruck customers will be able to connect to megawatt compressors starting next year, Priestley said. Tesla plans to start shipping Cybertrucks in 2023two years later tentative 2021 start date.
If Tesla opens up these high-powered charging stations to other automakers, as it is gradually doing with its regular Superchargers, it could encourage others to build electric trucks and prompt Tesla to build more charging stations.
As with all things Tesla and Musk, there are always a lot of ifs and unknowns. Musk faces new distractions with his acquisition of Twitter, has yet to deliver the promised benefits of Full Self Driving Tesla cars, and is struggling to revolutionize transportation with the Boring Company tunnels.
But Musk has so far been successful at Tesla and his rocket company SpaceX. Especially in the long run, the Tesla Semi could be a big deal.