Tesla Semi To Incorporate Tesla Model 3 Motor & High Reusability Of Existing Components

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Tesla has opened up the floodgates of information on the Q1 2017 earnings call, with big updates on the Tesla Solar Roof tiles, the Model 3, and even a bit about how the Tesla Semi will make use of the Model 3 motor and other existing components.

Tesla Semi tease

To think that the massive beast that the Tesla Semi is sure to be will be powered by the motor from the smallest Tesla to date seems counterintuitive until you dig into the facts behind the statement made by Elon Musk on the earnings call today.

In response to a follow-up question asking about why Tesla pursued what appears to be the more complex project of a semi truck instead of a pickup truck, Elon Musk and JB Straubel noted that nobody would be surprised if Tesla delivered a pickup truck and that it was an obvious, easy-to-do next step in the process. In response to that, they shared that building Tesla Semi was a larger undertaking and that was why they chose it.

They noted seconds later that Tesla Semi only seemed more ambitious on the surface, but that in reality, it made use of so many existing components, it wasn’t actually that difficult to do. Elon specifically noted that the company will use the motor from the Model 3 in the Tesla Semi.

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Just because the Model 3 will be small doesn’t mean that it will be slow. Tesla has shared previously that it will be able to get from 0–60 in under 6 seconds, which is rather spritely. The comparably sized and priced Chevy Bolt comes packed with a 200 horsepower motor — given that the base Tesla Model S packs 382 horsepower, 200 horsepower is likely very comparable to what the Model 3 will have under the hood … or rather, between the rear wheels.

Scaling this to 2, 4, or 6 motors — depending on whether Tesla goes with a front and rear configuration, 4 in-wheel motors, or 6 in-wheel motors — it is clear that the motor itself does not determine or limit the power of the vehicle. The configuration options with an in-wheel motor are not only limited by the power of the motor itself, but more so by the number of motors used. Using 6 x 250 horsepower motors would result in a 1,500 horsepower Semi with plenty of torque to pull loads off the line and up steep grades.

The Nikola One Semi Truck that was unveiled in December 2016 packs 1,000 horsepower and comes with 2,000 foot-pounds of torque. This combination allows it to accomplish everything a conventional diesel semi does today and then some. The Nikola One has electric motors but sources its power from lossy, inefficient hydrogen fuel cells, so it is not a straight one-for-one comparison, but it does validate the options and design flexibility that comes with an electric drivetrain in a semi truck at a 30,000 foot level.

The official unveiling of the Tesla Semi is expected to happen in September of this year, with the Tesla pickup truck being revealed shortly thereafter sometime in 2018.

Related: Electric Truck Overview — Electric Light-Duty Trucks, Medium-Duty Trucks, & Heavy-Duty Trucks

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Kyle Field

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

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