The Tesla Semi is coming, according to a new report from Electrek. They are quoting our old friend ‘sources familiar with the matter’, but the timing does make sense, given what we know so far.
Now sources familiar with the matter told Electrek that the drive axle production line is ready and the general assembly line is going through its final debugging before starting production.
It is one of the last steps before starting production of the all-electric truck.
Tesla unveiled the all-electric Semi, back in 2017. When Elon Musk announced the truck (Aussie name) to the world, it came with some really impressive performance figures, like the ability to accelerate from 0-60 mph (~100km/hr) in just 20 seconds, night and day with the trucks on our roads today. That may impress you until you realise that’s with an 80,000-pound payload, or around 36,287kg. Given most routes involve at least some city street driving, it’s the start and stopping at lights and corners that can really add to the overall trip time, so acceleration does matter.
On a broader traffic congestion front, having trucks be able to pull away from a stop much faster, will eliminate much of the overtaking that occurs when people try to avoid a slow truck ahead.
The truck is slated to come with two range options, 300 miles (482km) or 500 miles (804km) which will be achieved thanks to two different battery capacities. As we know from information shared on Battery Day, Tesla will use their most energy-dense and advanced battery tech on the Semi and Cybertruck, so we can expect the magical 4680 cells to arrive in the Semi.
The Tesla Semi is priced at US$150,000, for the 300 mile range version and US$180,000 for the 500 mile option. If the Semi was to come to Australia, that longer-range will certainly be important so we can take the $180k, convert it to AUD and land at A$245,524.50, then add 10% for GST and we’re expecting a price of around $270k before on-road costs, so let’s call it around $300k. For that money, it’s a lot of truck and that’s before we consider the autonomous capabilities that are planned for the Semi.
Enhanced Autopilot helps avoid collisions, a centered driver position provides maximum visibility and control, and a low center of gravity offers rollover protection. While the cameras and sensors are in a very different position for the semi and the weight is significantly different, it is expected that the FSD work that is happening with Tesla passenger vehicles will translate into autonomy for the Semi.
When the first Semi-trucks ship, clearly they will still need to be supported by humans and while they do that, they’ll be enjoying a very different driving experience. There’s a centered driving position in the Semi, enabling the driver to have a great view of the world around them. There’s the now-famous minimal design aesthetic in the interior and all the regular knobs, dials and switches are replaced by two touchscreen displays.
Running on at least one of these displays will be your navigation. Now here’s where things get interesting. The Tesla Semi will Tesla’s first commercial vehicle, which means they need to build fleet management software as well, and also need to integrate new routing parameters, like weight limits.
As a connected vehilce, expect the Semi to ship with the same always-on connection that all Tesla vehicles ship with, enabling location tracking where the business requires, allowing them a 24/7 picture of their assets. What will be interesting to see is how deep Tesla goes into servicing business efficiency. Tesla could surprise with route optimisations for deliveries, taking into account charging options.
This brings us to the issue of Megachargers. Semi’s with their massive battery pack and requirement to do rapid back-to-back trips can not rely on overnight charging like cars. If you’re a logistics company, you’ll need to work with Tesla to ensure you have the right charging infrastructure in place to enable the regular routes you transit.
Like what we see in petrol stations, expect truck stops of the future to accommodate charging infrastructure, at least while we nee humans and they need to sleep. What we can’t do is rely on Tesla’s Supercharging network for cars, this is essentially a ground-up rebuild of charging, specifically for trucks. What would make sense in a lot of instances, is to have chargers at the location where the trucks are being loaded, given this can take a couple of hours.
Electrek reported In March that Tesla was building a production line for the Tesla Semi at a new building near Gigafactory Nevada to produce five Tesla Semi electric trucks per week by the end of the year. Given there are public reports of more than 500 orders already in the US, they’ll need to ramp that fast.
While Semi-trucks are not as sexy as the Roadster, it is potentially Tesla’s most important product in the next 12 months as success here could see them open a whole other revenue stream. Better than revenue is the opportunity to keep truck drivers safe, thanks to Autopilot and eventually FSD.
More information on Tesla Semi at https://www.tesla.com/semi