If you are at the top of the Donner Pass, elevation 7,054 feet, in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the road goes steeply downhill whether you are traveling east or west. The California Highway Patrol maintains a truck inspection facility near Donner Pass to make sure the trucks using it can operate safely as they descend the steep grade.
On August 15, a CHP officer posted a photo on Facebook of a Tesla Semi parked at the inspection station. It was hauling a ~40,000 pound load of cinder blocks (on a ~15,000 lb trailer) as it simulated what it would be like to haul cargo up to the pass and down the other side.
One of the pet peeves of truckers is long, slow climbs that cause them to slow down to 40 mph or below. That shouldn’t be an issue with the Tesla Semi, which has more torque available than almost any tractor in history. Being able to haul heavy loads up steep inclines like the ones leading to the Donner Pass means faster deliveries and less hazard to other motorists from slow-moving trucks.
In the CHP Facebook post, the driver says the Tesla Semi is meeting or exceeding its range expectations. The company says that, depending on the version of chosen by the buyer, the truck should be able to go between 300 and 500 miles hauling a full load of cargo.
That compares quite favorably with the electric trucks being developed by Volvo, Daimler, and BYD. The first two companies have not released specs for their upcoming offerings but BYD has a day cab in production that has a maximum range of 124 miles. That’s good enough for most in-town and interurban routes — especially in the Northeast — but far too short to take on the Donner Pass.
The Tesla Semi is expected to enter production in late 2020 or early 2021. When it goes on sale, it will most likely be the most advanced electric truck money can buy.
Our Interview With Tesla President Jerome Guillen, Part Deux
Jerome — The Man, The Myth, The Tesla Super-Engineer — #CleanTechnica Interview
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