Tesla delivered its first Semi Truck today, but there’s much we still don’t know about Tesla’s first commercial product

    Tesla’s Semi was first announced as a product back in December 2017 and was slated to enter production in 2019, but today, Tesla delivered their first Semi. The first customer was PepsiCo which has committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2040. Despite receiving a couple of custom-wrapped Semi they are still yet to post on their social media accounts about receiving the Semi, some 9 hours later.

    The production build of Semi today, looks remarkably similar to the one on stage 4 years ago, continuing Tesla’s tradition of unveiling vehicles that are extremely close to what customers end up buying.

    At the time, Tesla committed to a number of impressive specs, impressive back then, but still impressive today. Despite Tesla not being the first to ship an EV, the Semi beats everything on the market by some margin.

    The Tesla Semi offers 500 miles of range on a single charge, as I reported 5 days ago. Today, Tesla shared a video, a hyperlapse of the journey which took the driver from Fremont to San Diego. The start off, the journey began with the Semi at a 97% state of charge and ended with 4% remaining, meaning the Semi had an additional 7% of range available when it completed the 500-mile trip, as it tipped the scales at almost 82,000lbs.

    Tesla also committed to some impressive performance numbers, a 0-60mph time of just 5 seconds and 20 seconds when fully loaded at a gross weight of 80,000lbs. It appears Tesla is meeting these stated performance numbers and achieves that using a tri-motor setup, very similar to what we see in the Model S Plaid drivetrain.

    Tesla shared an animation of how their drivetrain works, offering maximum performance when you need it, but then seamlessly transitioning to the most efficient drive mode of a single motor when maintaining highway speeds. Tesla says this transition is seamless, automatic and leaves nothing for the driver to do, other than accelerate as required.

    Reliability is always a question for any vehicle, but when you’re trying to convince a whole industry that electric trucks are the way of the future, it’s important to address this question. Tesla also shared a video of the Semi being tested in dirt, water, snow and muddy conditions. They also show the Semi running over a ladder, emulating the kind of debris you may experience during highway driving.

    As expected, the truck passes over it without issue, with no challenge to the battery pack. Does this mean the truck is indestructible, absolutely not, but I think the video does a great job of reassuring potential buyers that they have tested this in a range of applications?

    Tesla also shared some pre-recorded footage of what it’s like to be in the Semi. To begin, the Semi offers a very different experience for the driver. Firstly, they can stand in the cabin, remote their jacket etc, before taking a seat in the centred cabin’s chair. The Tesla wheel is also different from any other Tesla vehicle on the road, it features many of the capacitive touch buttons from the yoke, but is a full wheel and also still has indicator and drive mode stalks.

    The wheel is flanked by two 15″ horizontal screens which we expect are exactly the same as the ones found in the Model 3/Y. These do run a different version of the software that allows the driver to see a video feed of the side of Semi, as well as mapping and routing on the right, while the vehicle controls and visualization of the environment around the vehicle is on the left.

    The driver has some nice luxuries like dual wireless phone charging, as well as some USB charging ports for additional devices.

    Here’s where things get interesting.. there are a number of questions outstanding from today’s relatively short event.

    In the video above, we see the driver connects an iPad and places it down to a storage bay on the right. In another shot, we see that same tablet on a mount, located to the right of the driver displays. With two 15″ displays right in front of the driver, why would you possibly need a third? The answer is most likely due to Tesla’s software not supporting 3rd party apps like the fleet management and log book software that trucking companies rely on to operate.

    Tesla Semi Questions

    Here are some other outstanding Questions about the Tesla Semi.

    • What’s the Battery pack capacity?
    • What’s the Battery chemistry used in the Semi?
    • What are the average charging times?
    • Where will Megachargers/V4 Superchargers be rolled out first?
    • What does it cost to buy a Tesla Semi?
    • What does a Semi + Megacharger + Megapack bundle cost a business?
    • What Production targets does Tesla have for 2023/2024?
    • When should international markets expect to get the Semi?
    • Where is Autopilot / FSD?
    • Will Semi get FSD Beta?
    • How big is the Frunk?
    • What happened to the Tesla Semi Convoy idea?
    • Does the Semi offer a better cost of distribution vs Rail
    • Do you have Jackkifing prevention as announced at the unveiling?
    • How does Trailer hitching / reversing work? Does the driver get any software assistance?
    • Are you working on a Sleeper Cab version for interstate drivers?

    There’s probably many, many more questions you have about Tesla Semi, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

    If you missed the Tesla Delivery Day event you can watch it below.

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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