After months of delays and nail-biting anticipation and hype, Elon Musk unveiled Tesla’s electric truck on Thursday, Nov. 16. Many of the spec claims are jaw-dropping, including a range of 500 miles and acceleration of 0-60 mph in 20 seconds at 80,000 pounds.
Musk’s primetime announcement was every bit of an exaggerated spectacle as one would expect from the eccentric entrepreneur.
Powered by four independent motors on rear axles, the truck has a range of 500 miles and can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 20 seconds when fully loaded at 80,000 pounds. Without a trailer, the 0-60 time is five seconds. Tesla claims the truck can reach 65 mph up a 5 percent grade while diesel trucks can only hit 45 mph.
When it comes to drag coefficient, the Tesla semi performs at 0.36 cd. Comparatively, a diesel truck drives 0.65-0.70 cd and the $2 million Bugatti Chiron clocks in at 0.38 cd. Tesla achieves this with side flaps that adjust to any trailer and closes the gap. The bottom of the truck is also completely flat.
One major selling point for Musk was the operation costs of the all-electric semi compared with a traditional diesel truck.
Assuming a 100-mile round trip route at an average speed of 60 mph, 80,000 pounds GVW, $2.50 per gallon diesel and 7 cents per kWh electricity price, Tesla’s semi will cost $1.26/mile to run. Conversely, a diesel truck would cost $1.51/mile to run. Those same stats applied to a three-truck convoy reduces that operating cost to $0.85/mile while diesel trucks remain at $1.51/mile, according to Tesla.
Tesla claims more than $200,000 in fuel savings and a two-year payback period.
As one would expect from Tesla, the semi will include various autonomous technology features, including enhanced autopilot. Additionally, the truck will come equipped with automatic emergency braking, automatic lane keeping and forward collision warning, which are already featured in trucks by other manufacturers.
One feature that separates Tesla’s semi from the rest is the interior. The steering wheel is situated in the center of the cab. Touchscreen monitors are placed on both sides of the steering wheel.
Tesla also claims the semi is the “safest truck ever.” In addition to collision avoidance technology, the truck has a low center of gravity that offers rollover protection. During the unveiling, Musk said that it is virtually impossible to jackknife this truck as independent motors will adjust the torque at each wheel.
When it comes to reliability, Musk said the drivetrain is guaranteed to last 1 million miles. Drivers may not need to worry about flying objects through the windshield. Designed with armor glass, Musk said the windshield could survive a thermo-nuclear explosion. The image below compares a traditional windshield to Tesla’s armor windshield.
Tesla also claims “quasi-infinite” brake life. During the unveiling, Musk said “You don’t have to replace brake pads ever.”
Similar to technology found in Tesla’s passenger vehicles, data from the semi is connected to Tesla Mobile Services which can be retrieved from an app, which can be useful when managing a fleet. Features include, remote diagnostics, predictive maintenance, location tracking and communication with dispatch.
Production of the Tesla semi will begin in 2019. How much will it cost? That was not unveiled Thursday night, but one can assume it won’t be cheap. According to ACS Energy research, the battery pack alone for a 600-mile range truck could cost $400,000. That doesn’t include literally everything else to produce the truck.
The potential lofty price tag has not dissuaded one carrier. Not even 12 hours after Tesla’s unveiling party, Lowell, Ark.-based J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. announced that it has placed a reservation to purchase multiple Tesla trucks.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores also has ordered 15, five for Wal-Mart U.S. and 10 for Wal-Mart Canada.
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