Tesla Semi revealed: 500 mile range and 0-60 mph in 5s

Chris Davies - Nov 16, 2017
Tesla Semi revealed: 500 mile range and 0-60 mph in 5s

Tesla has revealed the Tesla Semi, the electric car company’s first truck, and as you’d expect it’s quite the vehicle. Designed to transport up to 80,000 pounds – the maximum permitted on US highways – it can’t quite escape Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s obsession with electric speed. That makes for some fairly crazy figures.

0-60 mph comes in just five seconds, for the truck alone. With the full 80,000 pound load, 0-60 mph takes just 20 seconds. That’s far, far less time than a conventional diesel-powered semi.

The power continues when it comes to uphill driving. A traditional diesel truck would be able to take a 5-percent grade at 45 mph max. The Tesla Semi can do the same incline at 65 mph.

Arguably the most important thing, though, is range. Musk says the Semi can do 500 miles, and that’s at maximum weight and at highway speeds. “Semi is the safest, most comfortable truck ever,” Tesla said today. “Four independent motors provide maximum power and acceleration and require the lower [sic] energy cost per mile.”

They’ll recharge using new Tesla Megachargers, the company’s new infrastructure designed specifically for Tesla Semi. Solar-powered, charging a local Tesla Powerpack, there’ll be “24/7, guaranteed low [cost] electricity,” Musk promises, with it priced at $0.07/kWh . “Because these Megachargers are solar powered, your truck is running on sunlight.”

Thirty minutes on a Megacharger, Tesla says, will be sufficient for 400 miles of range. “400 miles is about 6-7 hours of driving,” Musk points out. “By the time you’re done with your break, the truck is ready to go. You will not be waiting for your truck to recharge.”

Inside, there’s a spacious and surprisingly minimalistic cabin. The standard interface is dual touchscreens, and Tesla is promising seamless integration with the systems fleet managers rely on to control their trucks. There’s enough room to stand up fully, along with plenty of cubbies – including the now-traditional “frunk” front trunk.

When it comes to safety, “jack-knifing is impossible,” Musk promises. That’s because there are electric motors on all of the wheels, which means the issue simply can’t arise. There’ll also be lane-keeping and Autopilot as standard, with the Tesla Semi having the ability to follow roads, change lanes, and keep with traffic speeds. If there’s an issue, or the driver falls asleep on extended drives, the truck can slow itself automatically and then contact emergency services.

Since there’s no transmission, that can’t break. No emissions, either, and there’s new Tesla armor glass to protect the windshield. Indeed, Tesla is so confident about the truck’s resilience, it’s making a big guarantee.

“We’re guaranteeing this truck will not break down for a million miles,” Musk said. “You can use two of those four motors and it’ll still beat a diesel truck.”

A Tesla app, meanwhile, will run on a smartphone and allow for remote diagnostics as well as offering preventative maintenance. That means fleet managers should be able to see any issues that happen in advance.

Finally, there’s the price. “The economics of trucking manage tremendously,” Musk points out. “If your cost per mile is too high, it doesn’t make sense, you can’t make it work.”

In fact, the Tesla Semi should cost $1.26 per mile, based on a 100 mile route, 60 mph average speed, and 80,000 pound gross vehicle weight. In contrast, based on $2.50/gallon for diesel, Tesla estimates a diesel truck would cost $1.51 per mile.

If you have multiple trucks, however, the savings could be even more, Musk promises. With several Tesla Semi in a convoy, it could be more cost effective than even rail transportation, so the promise goes.

Production of the Tesla Semi begins in 2019, Tesla says. Reservations are being taken from today.

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