On December 1, Tesla held an event in Sparks, near Gigafactory Nevada. The event was attended by Semi customers (industry professionals) and Tesla shareholders by invite only. Attendees were treated to a tour of the Semi production line and could speak with engineers who built the Semi. They were invited to walk into the cabin of a Semi and meet Elon Musk onstage. Elon handed over keys personally to Ramon Laguarta, CEO of Pepsi and Steven Williams, CEO PepsiCo Foods, and the crowd went wild! In this article, I’ll highlight Elon’s vision for the Semi, share some exclusive photos of the event with you, and answer,
- What will a Semi cost?
- How far will the Semi go and how much can it carry?
- Where do you charge it and how long does it take?
Elon Musk’s Vision for the Tesla Semi
Elon explained that although combination trucks account for only 1% of US vehicles sold, they account for 20% of US vehicle emissions, and an astonishing 36% of US vehicle particulate emissions. This is because these trucks are huge vehicles, which are being driven all the time,
“People might wonder, Why build a semi-truck? Because if you look at the actual unit volume, it’s small compared to passenger vehicles, so for passenger vehicles, it’s on the order of almost 100,000,000 that are sold every year. whereas for semi trucks, it’s four or 500,000 (globally).
In the USA there are probably like 15 million passenger vehicles and a couple 100,000 semi trucks, so it seems like a small percentage, but, it’s actually 20% of US vehicle emissions because you’ve got a huge vehicle and it’s being driven all the time.
So when you factor in the number of hours driven, and the weight that is carried, it’s actually, although it’s only 1% of vehicle production, it’s 20% of vehicle emissions. and it’s over 1/3 of all particulate emissions. From a sort of health standpoint, particularly in cities, this is a huge impact, like, it’s gigantic. So, that’s why we’re doing it!
In addition to climate change, and global warming matters it’s also quiet and it’s going to improve the quality of your air and it will actually just fundamentally improve the health of people living near freeways which is obviously sort of a big deal.
We’re aiming to cover all major forms of transport, it’s consistent with the Tesla mission because sometimes we get asked, shouldn’t Tesla just produce fast cars or premium cars or whatever? But what’s our actual mission? The actual mission is to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy. That’s why we’re making this wide range of cars that don’t really make sense from a brand standpoint I guess, traditionally. But they make total sense when you consider what’s the mission of the company.
The mission of the company is to accelerate sustainable energy. So it’s super consistent with that goal and really a crucial piece of the puzzle, and that’s why we’re doing it.”
Elon continued, “It looks sick, I mean you want to drive that, I mean that thing looks like it came from the future. I mean it drives like a, it’s like driving a Tesla, literally! And it’s fun, it looks awesome, and you know there’s actually a big shortage of drivers, and so if you are a truck driver and you want the most badass rig on the road, this is it! It’s a beast!”
What will a Semi cost?
In 2017, Tesla offered the Semi (with a 500-mile range) for $180,000 and currently, Tesla offers a link to get updates on the Semi and does not take new reservations at this time. The cost, when the Semi becomes widely available, should be expected to be higher than the price offered in 2017. What do you think it will cost?
How far will the Semi go and how much can it carry?
In a test run video, the Tesla Semi was shown carrying 82,000 pounds and driving up an incline while passing a struggling traditional diesel semi. According to Tesla, the Class 8 Semi’s range per charge is between 300 and 500 miles when fully loaded at 82,000 lbs. Federal limits are 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, and battery-electric trucks are granted an extra ton through the Consolidated Appropriations Act (2019) by the Federal Highway Administration. Tesla built the Semi in an aerodynamic bullet shape in order to decrease the drag coefficient. The is .36 which is about half of a conventional diesel truck. The Semi’s energy consumption is stunning at less than 2 kWh/mile.
Where do you charge it and how long does it take?
The Semi will charge at 1 Megawatt chargers (V4), supported by Megapacks in some cases, (V3 chargers, for Tesla’s other vehicles are ~324 kW). Dan Priestley, Lead Semi Engineer, explained these V4 chargers will be coming to Tesla Superchargers next year. Cybertrucks will also be capable of charging at V4s. Charging time will be fast due to Tesla’s new V4 charging cable, created exclusively for Semi and Cybertruck.
My take is V4 megachargers may be installed next year at Superchargers that are already located where diesel trucks fill up. Tesla has already built Superchargers at Buc-ee’s in over 26 stores in 7 states. I also estimate that charging will take around the same time it takes for a driver to take a break, eat, use the restroom, etc. (around 30 minutes).
Looking at the above graphic, notice how regenerative braking is almost able to nullify the presence of hills. The efficiency of the entire 500-mile run is almost the same as the efficiency over the flat part of the journey.
Regen braking will add to safety and eliminate crashes like the one that happened in the 2019 Lakewood semi truck crash near Denver and led to the horrifying death of 4 people (and 10 injuries). If you are not familiar, here’s the link to a video of a man who was near the runaway diesel semi when it happened.
Dan Priestley explained, “So any highway grade you come across, you can tackle at speed, there’s no compromise, and the other beauty is you’ve got all this power coming up but you also have it going down and what that means, is, you’ve got regenerative braking so, rather than using a jig brake or an engine brake like a diesel truck does, you don’t have to worry about hitting your shifts. If you miss a gear, you’re onto your brakes and a potential runaway situation. You don’t have to worry about any of that. There’s no shifting, no nothing, and so the regen recaptures all that energy as you’re going down these grades, but on top of it, it’s also a safer system for not just the driver, but also everybody on the road because there’s no gear to miss.”
Another safety asset exclusive to the Semi are a collection of three cameras on each rear view mirror. See a closeup photo by Brandonee916 of this below taken at the event.
Elon Musk stated, “The mission of the company is to accelerate sustainable energy. So it’s (the Semi) super consistent with that goal and really a crucial piece of the puzzle, and that’s why we’re doing it.”
Building a Semi is crucial because although combination trucks account for only 1% of US vehicles sold, they account for 20% of US vehicle emissions, and an astonishing 36% of US vehicle particulate emissions.
- The cost for the Semi in 2017 was $180,000 for the 500-mile range version. Tesla has not posted the cost for future orders and is not taking reservations on the website at this time for this high-demand tractor.
- Semi will travel from 300 to 500 miles on a full charge and be capable of carrying the maximum load allowed by law, which is 82,000 pounds. Tesla built the Semi in an aerodynamic bullet shape in order to significantly decrease the drag coefficient. The Semi’s energy consumption is stunning at less than 2 kWh/mile.
- Tesla Semi will charge at 1 Megawatt chargers (V4) which will come to Superchargers next year. My take is they will be built at locations like Buc-ee’s where trucks fill for diesel. In addition, the battery regains energy on declines through regenerative braking, and, in the words of Dan Priestley, “There’s no shifting, no nothing, and so the regen recaptures all that energy as you’re going down these grades.”
Watch Official video from Tesla here Tesla Semi Delivery Event
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Gail Alfar, author. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – December 4, 2022. All Rights Reserved. My goal as an author is to support Tesla and Elon Musk in both making life better on earth for humans and becoming a space-fairing civilization. Thank you to Drive Tesla Canada for their reporting on V3 Supercharging and to Arash Malek for his insight on the Tesla Semi Delivery Event, you can view his video here.