By Giles Milner, December 13, 2022
Four years later than planned, Tesla and Elon Musk launched its Semi truck at the firm’s Nevada Giga factory on December 1st. Elon Musk shuffled on stage taking the lead presentation duties saying, in summary, the Tesla Semi is an on-paper game changer. But is it? Worldwide semi truck sales amount to around 2 million per year, give or take boom-bust sales cycles. The Tesla Semi was first revealed in 2017 and was expected to go on sale in 2019. However, the pandemic stalled everything. Then a global parts shortage caused by the pandemic pushed back the launch date.
So, here we are in December 2022 and the Tesla Semi is finally going into full-scale production with a roster of clients ready and willing to switch from diesel semis and go fully electric. On paper, the Tesla Semi packs a powerful electric punch. It has a massive 900 kWh battery pack supplying power to four independent electric motors located on the rear axles,
Tesla says the Semi has a range of 500 miles and carries over road car technologies found in the Model S and X etc, such as regenerative braking, and traction control although the 1,000-volt drivetrain architecture is purely developed for the Semi. At the event, Tesla showed a snippet video of a fully loaded Semi undertaking a 500-mile test run without breaking into a sweat.
Whereas most diesel semi trucks are slow the accelerate and gather momentum, the Tesla Semi has road-car-like acceleration and can cope with a variety of elevations that makes conventional diesel semis look like prototype 19th Century steam trains built by George Stevenson.
The Tesla Semi has a massive 1-megawatt rate of charge. To enable this extreme amount of direct current to feed the Semi, Tesla developed a liquid-cooled charging cable. It all sounds too true to be good, the trucking industry will be observing with interest to see if a Tesla Semi in the real world can account for the bold claims made by Elon Musk.
If the Tesla Semi is demonstrably better than rival diesel semi trucks in terms of carrying cargo, range, performance, and efficiency then it will be a game-changer and game-over for the diesel semi-truck era. The Tesla is priced from $150,000, and you know what, if I had the money I would buy one as a daily driver. Or perhaps wait for the Cybertruck…