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Tesla Semi tease

Autonomous Vehicles

Tesla Semi — What 200–300 Miles of Range Means & Could Mean

Reuters is reporting that the coming Tesla Semi’s range (on a single charge) is likely to be 200–300 miles. Elon isn’t tweeting a denial, so we’ll take this as quite likely for now.

Tesla Semi tease

Reuters is reporting that the coming Tesla Semi’s range (on a single charge) is likely to be 200–300 miles. Elon isn’t tweeting a denial, so we’ll take this as quite likely for now.

If the numbers ring a bell, yes, they are mighty similar to the Model 3’s two range options (220 miles and 310 miles). Perhaps this 200–300 distance is seen a sweet spot in Tesla’s/Elon’s eyes, well beyond personal cars. (Hopefully someone didn’t just stumble across the Model 3 specs and confuse them for Tesla Semi specs. 😉 )

Actually, it seems the range is a projection from Scott Perry, chief technology officer and chief procurement officer at Miami-based fleet operator Ryder System Inc. Perry met with Tesla officials earlier this year to chat about the tech.

“I’m not going to count them out for having a strategy for longer distances or ranges, but right out of the gate I think that’s where they’ll start.”

We can consider fairly easily what 200–300 miles of range mean for a household sedan, but what do 200–300 miles of range mean for a semi truck? Good question — I’m glad you asked!

To be honest, the semi truck segment is not our main area of expertise, but here are a few key notes we’ve picked up:

♣ 200–300 miles of range is considered an entry-level range for semi trucks.

♣ This would presumably be suitable for regional cargo transport.

♣ Approximately 30% of cargo trucking trips are 100–200 miles in distances in the US.

The average per mile operational cost in the trucking industry is $1.38/mile. That’s approximately $280 on a 200 mile trip or $420 on a 300 miles trip. The figure also adds up to annual operating costs of $180,000 based on average miles driven. Though, note that this figure takes into account the vehicle, the driver, etc.

♣ Fuel accounts for 39% of average operating cost ($0.54/mile). The truck cab ($100,000+) & trailer ($50,000 or so) = 17% ($0.24/mile). The driver salary comes to 26% ($0.36/mile). Repairs and maintenance = 10% ($0.12/mile). The rest basically comes from insurance, tires, permits, licenses, and tolls.

♣ Tesla’s operating costs and all subcomponents of that cost = ??? However, electricity costs should be much lower than a conventional big rig’s fuel costs, and repairs and maintenance would also presumably be lower.

♣ It seems Tesla is also planning to incorporate platooning software in places it’s permitted, which could leave the first truck’s range at 200–300 miles on a full charge but then dramatically increase the range of following trucks. When you consider that, the trucks could also play a game of leapfrog in order to further extend the distances they can drive without stopping.

♣ “Range anxiety” is very unlikely to be a thing for Tesla truckers. Tesla’s cars can already tell you where you need to Supercharge in order to not run out of electricity. They also tell you to slow down if you’re running out of electricity too quickly and tell you to be cautious if the outside temperature is dropping (since that can affect battery capacity). Presumably, a Tesla Semi would be even smarter and would further make the drivers’ lives too freakin’ easy.

This warning came on a Tesla Model S when we were at about 0% charge.

Some other considerations:

♣ 200–300 miles full of cargo would require a lot of batteries, which would further blow up Tesla’s battery production needs and presumably lower its battery prices. If economies of scale continue to bring down Tesla’s battery costs, it could put a larger and larger lithium gulf between Tesla and all other vehicles producers.

♣ 200–300 miles of driving is a different thing from 200–300 miles of chillin’ while the robot inside the truck does the driving. Of course, Tesla’s trucks would include self-driving tech, and it’s mostly a question of how much regulators will allow them to do in 2018, 2019, 2020, etc. Either way, not having to spend hours upon hours on the monotonous task of watching the highway could considerably shift the life of truckers, their work hours, their break needs, and the chance they will get into an accident.

Tesla is supposed to be unveiling its semi truck in September, so keep your eyes open for more info as well as less more speculation soon.


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Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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