• Sleek design for improved visibility and aerodynamics
  • Drag coefficient of 0.36
  • Hooks to any conventional 18-wheeler trailer
  • Center-mounted driver’s seat
  • Touchscreen display controls all vehicle systems
  • Sleeper cab includes living accommodations
  • Autopilot and active safety systems
  • Low-mounted battery
  • 500-mile range towing 80,000 pounds
  • Consumes less than 2.0 kW per mile driving fully loaded
  • 0 to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds when unloaded
  • Thermonuclear blast-proof windshield
  • Low center of gravity reduces rollover risk
  • 360-degree camera system
  • Gets Tesla Autopilot and all autonomous features

Tesla enters the high-stakes game of commercial trucking

Elon Musk and Tesla have defied the odds by finally debuting the automaker’s first stab at the commercial trucking industry. It’s called simply the Tesla Semi and it finally broke cover at a media event on November 16, 2017, after years of teasing. Debuting alongside the hot 2020 Tesla Roadster, the Semi is designed to reinvent the way trucking is done. Tesla says its all-electric drivetrain will give more than 500 miles of range on a single charge while towing 80,000 pounds, be far less difficult to maintain, and outperform convention semi trucks in both performance and safety – all at a lower operating cost. That’s a tall order. Oh, and it’ll hit 60 mph in just 5.0 seconds when unloaded.

Along with the Semi, Tesla will be releasing a new charging system. It’s called the Megacharger and it’s a high-speed DC charging station capable of adding roughly 400 miles of range in only 30 minutes. Tesla says the Megachargers can be installed by fleet operators anywhere along their routes and will be common at truck stops in heavily trafficked areas.

Continue reading for more information.

Exterior

2019 Tesla Semi
- image 746087
Drag coefficient of 0.36
  • Sleek design for improved visibility and aerodynamics
  • Drag coefficient of 0.36
  • High and low roof versions
  • 360-degree camera system
  • Hooks to any conventional 18-wheeler trailer
Ask a 10-year-old kid to draw what an 18-wheeler might look like in 50 years, and this is probably what you’d get.

The Tesla Semi looks like the future. Ask a 10-year-old kid to draw what an 18-wheeler might look like in 50 years, and this is probably what you’d get. Every shape is new since the Semi doesn’t have a massive turbodiesel engine to contend with. Rather, the massive battery pack is located between the frame rails, way down low. That gave Tesla designers nearly free reign in shaping the truck. Naturally, aerodynamics is a big factor, so the front looks smoother than a proctologists’ tool set. Tesla will apparently offer both a low-roof and high-roof model.

Aerodynamics continues playing a big role in the Semi’s lower sections, too. The bumper hangs down low, the fenders wrap closely around the wheels, and the side skirts expend almost to the ground. Fenders over the rear axles further help reduce drag. In fact, Tesla says the Semi has a drag coefficient of 0.36, which is less than a Bugatti Chiron at 0.38 (which is true for Auto mode). Tesla says regular semi trucks range between 0.65 and 0.70 drag coefficient. That seems like an awful outlandish claim, but Musk should know what he’s talking about since he also runs an aerospace company…

Interior

2019 Tesla Semi
- image 746093
Touchscreen display controls all vehicle systems
  • Center-mounted driver’s seat
  • Touchscreen display and control all vehicle systems
  • Sleeper cab includes living accommodations
  • Autopilot and active safety systems
The driver is positioned front and center within the cab, putting him in the perfect position to see everything.

The Tesla Semi further separates itself from conventional semis with its interior. The driver is positioned front and center within the cab, putting him in the perfect position to see everything around the front end of the truck, aided by the short overhangs and 360-degree camera system. Two large touchscreens serve as workstations, the gauge cluster, system controls, and displays for the cameras.

Behind the driver is a sleeper cab, offering a place to relax while on the road. And speaking of relaxing, the Tesla Semi will come with Autopilot, allowing the driver to hand over driving duties to the computer. The Semi is also programmed to follow a convoy, which has one truck leading the way and a gaggle of autonomously controlled Semis following behind. Vehicle to vehicle communications keeps the convoy in sync and allows each truck to brake and accelerate simultaneously with those around it. Naturally, this would make for a lessened workload for the driver.

The built-in computer systems and tablet screens also contain the driver’s logbook information, making it easier to keep track of mileage on driving time.

Drivetrain

2019 Tesla Semi
- image 746092
Consumes less than 2.0 kW per mile driving fully loaded
  • Low-mounted battery
  • 500-mile range towing 80,000 pounds
  • Consumes less than 2.0 kW per mile driving fully loaded
  • Regenerative braking
  • Megacharger adds 400 miles of charge in 30 minutes
  • 0 to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds when unloaded
  • 0 to 60 mph in 20 seconds when fully loaded

Specifics have not been given regarding the kWh or physical size of the battery pack, but Tesla says the electric motors are derived from those used on the Model 3 and are validated to last more than a million miles. The battery will supply enough charge to drive 500 miles at the legal load limit of 80,000 pounds. The truck is also said to scale five percent grades at 65 mph without losing momentum – a feat mostly turbodiesel Semis can’t do past 45 mph. On flat ground with 80,000 pounds in tow, the truck will consume less than 2.0 kW per mile at highway speeds.

Performance wise, the boundless torque of the electric motors will allow the Tesla Semi to hit 60 mph in just five seconds without a trailer and 20 seconds when fully loaded to 80,000 pounds. Plan out a full minute to hit 60 mph in a conventional semi.

As for brakes, the Tesla Semi uses regenerative braking. The regen brakes are said to recover 98 percent of kinetic energy before converting it to electrical energy to recharge the battery. Since the conventional friction brakes only handle two percent of the load, they are expected to last the life of the truck.

Safety

2019 Tesla Semi
- image 745885
Thermonuclear blast-proof windshield
  • Thermonuclear blast-proof windshield
  • Low center of gravity reduces rollover risk
  • 360-degree camera system
  • Autopilot and autonomous features
  • Event recorder in case something happens

One of the biggest highlights of the Tesla Semi is its safety features – both active and passive. On the passive side, Tesla says the Semi’s architecture is designed to handle impacts better than regular 18-wheelers. An impact resistant windshield helps guard against flying debris on the road. Tesla even demonstrated this with a flying trailer hitch ball mount. The glass breaks, but the steel tube and hitch ball are kept outside the truck and away from the driver’s face.

The Tesla Semi’s low-slung battery pack will also help keep body roll under control. With the majority of weight near the ground, the Semi will have a smaller chance of rolling over in an accident. Should something happen, the battery is protected in a reinforced shell.

But preventing accidents is what the Tesla Semi does best. It uses its 360-degree camera system to automatically warn the driver of dangers lurking around the truck. The Semi also has Enhanced Autopilot, Automatic Emergency Braking, Automatic Lane Keeping, and Lane Departure Warning. And like the last airplane you flew in, it’s got an event recorder that saves everything happening in and around the truck before, during, and shortly after an accident.

Pricing

2019 Tesla Semi
- image 745851

Tesla has not confirmed how much the Semi will cost in total, but companies wanting a shot at early ownership can pay a $5,000 down payment for each truck. News of supermarket chains Wal-Mart and Meijer, along with the trucking giant J.B. Hunt have already placed orders.

Despite not knowing the actual price of the truck, Tesla says the Semi can save roughly $200,000 in fuel costs alone when compared to a diesel-powered semi over a million miles. (And yes, a million miles is about the life expectancy of a semi-truck.) That saving is possible thanks to low electricity costs. The average price hovers around $0.12 per kWh in the U.S. and can even be lower for large-scale industrial users. Regardless of the actual specifics, Tesla claims companies will save money by switching to the all-electric Semi.

Conclusion

2019 Tesla Semi
- image 746099

Tesla is no stranger to making big promises and taking forever to deliver on them, so only time will tell how things transpire with the Tesla Semi. If history teaches us anything, the Semi will be delayed multiple times and be shrouded in secrecy until hype of its introduction dies down. Don’t get us wrong – we’d love Tesla to reinvent the way commercial trucking is done while saving companies money and reducing the amount of local emissions on our highways.

The Tesla Semi is important for regular folks for several reasons. One, the truck could potentially reduce shipping costs and therefore the price of goods. Two, it could increase safety on our roadways. Three, it would improve the flow of traffic thanks to convoys, active safety systems, and better performance. Four, it would make roadways quieter since loud diesel exhausts would be eliminated, including engine braking devices like the Jake Brake.

Only time will tell if Tesla Semi succeeds. If any automaker or billionaire entrepreneur could pull it off, it’s Tesla and Elon Musk.

  • Leave it
    • * No word on MSRP
    • * Could suffer from typical Tesla production woes
    • * A disruptor in a highly important industry

Press Release

The Tesla Semi will deliver a far better experience for truck drivers, while increasing safety and significantly reducing the cost of cargo transport.

Unrivaled Performance
Without a trailer, the Tesla Semi achieves 0-60 mph in five seconds, compared to 15 seconds in a comparable diesel truck. It does 0-60 mph in 20 seconds with a full 80,000-pound load, a task that takes a diesel truck about a minute. Most notably for truck drivers and other travelers on the road, it climbs 5% grades at a steady 65 mph, whereas a diesel truck maxes out at 45 mph on a 5% grade. The Tesla Semi requires no shifting or clutching for smooth acceleration and deceleration, and its regenerative braking recovers 98% of kinetic energy to the battery, giving it a basically infinite brake life. Overall, the Semi is more responsive, covers more miles than a diesel truck in the same amount of time, and more safely integrates with passenger car traffic.

Driver Experience
Unlike other trucks, the Semi’s cabin is designed specifically around the driver, featuring unobstructed stairs for easier entry and exit, full standing room inside, and a centered driver position for optimal visibility. Two touchscreen displays positioned symmetrically on both sides of the driver provide easy access to navigation, blind spot monitoring and electronic data logging. Built-in connectivity integrates directly with a fleet’s management system to support routing and scheduling, and remote monitoring. Diesel trucks today currently require several third party devices for similar functionality.

Megachargers, a new high-speed DC charging solution, will add about 400 miles in 30 minutes and can be installed at origin or destination points and along heavily trafficked routes, enabling recharging during loading, unloading, and driver breaks.

Safety
The Tesla Semi’s all-electric architecture is designed to have a higher safety standard than any other heavy-duty truck on the market, with a reinforced battery that shields the Semi from impact and gives it an exceptionally low center of gravity. Its windshield is made of impact resistant glass. Jackknifing is prevented due to the Semi’s onboard sensors that detect instability and react with positive or negative torque to each wheel while independently actuating all brakes. The surround cameras aid object detection and minimize blind spots, automatically alerting the driver to safety hazards and obstacles. With Enhanced Autopilot, the Tesla Semi features Automatic Emergency Braking, Automatic Lane Keeping, Lane Departure Warning, and event recording.

Tesla Semi can also travel in a convoy, where one or several Semi trucks will be able to autonomously follow a lead Semi.

Reliability
With far fewer moving parts than a diesel truck – no engine, transmission, after-treatment system or differentials to upkeep – the Tesla Semi requires significantly less maintenance. Its battery is similar in composition to the batteries of Tesla energy products and is designed to support repeated charging cycles for over a million miles, while its motors are derived from the motors used in Model 3 and have been validated to last more than one million miles under the most demanding conditions.

Lowest Cost of Ownership
All-in, the Tesla Semi delivers massive savings in energy costs, performance, efficiency and reliability.

The biggest immediate cost-advantage comes from savings in energy costs: fully loaded, the Tesla Semi consumes less than two kilowatt-hours of energy per mile and is capable of 500 miles of range at GVW and highway speed, accommodating a wide range of shipping applications given that nearly 80% of freight in the U.S. is moved less than 250 miles. Coupled with the low and stable nature of electricity prices – which average $0.12/kWh in the U.S. and can be significantly less for commercial and industrial users, falling to almost nothing when combined with local solar generation and storage – owners can expect to gain $200,000 or more in savings over a million miles based on fuel costs alone.

Reservations for the Tesla Semi can be made for $5,000 USD per truck. Production in 2019.

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