While it might be deemed a bit risky unveiling what will be the world’s fastest production car at your big electric truck reveal, Tesla seem to have pulled it off, gaining enough publicity for both modes of transport.
The all-electric Semi truck has the sort of head-on visual appeal that Dennis Weaver would have avoided like the plague (in the 1971 film, Duel), yet I suspect Tesla have actually tried to give the truck a friendly face. Not so easy when you’re talking about a giant 18-wheeler freight truck. In fact, the eye-catching design for the Semi was based around the sleekness of a bullet and as such has an impressive drag-coefficient of 0.36. More of an obstacle with burly truck drivers will be the name…
Ignoring that for the moment, the claimed tech specs and figures are impressive – Tesla say that the giant truck can actually reach 60mph in just 5 seconds – though whether that is actually a selling point for a freight truck is another matter. More notably, the company say that the Semi can accelerate, fully loaded with 80,000lbs, to 60mph in just 20 seconds. It also has a pretty decent 500-mile range, which, especially in Europe, may make the ears prick up of some forward thinking long haul companies.
Four motors power the vehicle and these enable the monster truck to be able to effectively climb a 5 per cent gradient at 65mph (laws permitting). Tesla has thought about the charging too, with the planned creation of a ‘Megacharger’ network that they promise will be able to speed-charge the Semi truck to 400 miles of range in just 30 minutes.
The most curious thing about the cabin is that the driver seat is centrally mounted – odd, but possibly a stroke of genius when you consider that many haulage companies are not just restricted to one left-hand (or right-hand) drive country. On each side of the driver cockpit is a large screen to display all sorts of information as well as the results of the reverse, rear-view cameras. The Semi will benefit from autopilot, collision avoidance as well as lane-keep technology.
Tesla were coy about the price as the truck and roadster were launched at their headquarters in Hawthorne, California, only teasing that a $5,000 deposit would secure one, while the per mile operating cost is around $1.26 – an average saving of around $0.33 compared to diesel trucks.
Well, I mentioned that name at the beginning of this article, and Elon Musk does have some, shall we say, interesting vehicle naming methodology going on in his head: we’ve had the Model S, the Model X and the Model 3 – which would’ve been the Model E if it wasn’t for Ford’s objections. Now we have the Semi. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
Since the launch, the Semi is looking like it will indeed grow into a viable challenger for the diesel market, as not only has USA based truck firm JB Hunt revealed that it will be ordering trucks, Walmart too has now also said that it will be taking 25 trucks in total. Canadian grocery firm Loblaw will be reserving the same amount as Walmart.
Reuters has revealed that while the 500-mile range is good, it could prove to be only around half the range of a diesel class 8 in the North American market, so clearly there are still some obstacles.
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