Auto Expert Says Tesla Semi Is “Pointless,” Seems To Miss The Point

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Markus Lienkamp is the chair of Automotive Engineering at the Technical University of Munich. It seems that would make him a full blown auto expert (hence the title). Lienkamp told Business Insider that, “The battery for a Tesla Semi must have a capacity of about 1,000 kWh per 100 kilometers, about 130 kWh.” He adds that “this is technically not easily feasible and it’s also pointless both economically and ecologically.” This was in response to a study conducted by Transport & Environment, which is a consortium of European environmental organizations. The study compared the energy consumption of classic diesel trucks with the energy consumption of electric trucks on long-haul journeys, as well as the technical, regulatory, and financial viability of battery-electric long-haul trucks.

Tesla, Daimler, Renault, and Volvo are all working on large electric trucks. Tesla aims to put its Semi into production this year, with Elon Musk recently noting on a shareholder conference call that a main holdup has simply been battery supply.

The longest-range Tesla Semi will go a distance of 800 kilometers (500 miles) on a single charge, and will be able to accelerate from 0 to 100 in just 20 seconds with 40 tons in tow. The battery can gain 640 kilometers (400 miles) of range in a 30 minute charge. A shorter-range Tesla Semi is expected to have a base price of $150,000, while a longer-range one is supposed to start at $180,000. The former is expected to have around 500 kilometers (300 miles) of range on a full charge.

The authors of the Transport & Environment study write that the success of battery-electric trucks in the EU is technically feasible. This is due to “improvements to battery density, the efficiency of electric power trains and improvements to aerodynamics and tire rolling resistance.”

Another expert from the Laboratory for Commercial Vehicle Technology at the Dresden University of Applied Sciences, Martin Wittmer, disagreed. He says, “Battery-powered trucks are realistic for distribution, the post office or refuse collection, but today’s lithium-ion batteries are too heavy and too expensive for transporting goods over long distances, and after just two to three years, their storage capacity will already be in significant decline.”

What isn’t noted in the article by Business Insider is that these experts did not mention Tesla’s leadership in lithium-ion batteries or the fact that Tesla is working on a million-mile battery. Tesla, along with physicists from Canada’s Dalhousie University, were recently granted a patent for new lithium-ion battery tech using advanced battery chemistry. The title of the patent refers to adjustments to the battery cell chemistry for Tesla products that will increase the battery’s performance and longevity while also saving costs.

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Experts who are a bit pessimistic about electric trucks perhaps do not take into account the successes with battery technology Tesla has had. They seem to see Tesla as just another automaker. To them, the Tesla Semi could just be another flashy toy for a few companies to show off to customers. In reality, many trucking customers have indicated it could be a game changer for the trucking world.

Imagine what the success of Tesla Semi could mean not just for other automakers dabbling in EVs, but for the automotive industry as a whole. Perhaps rescue vehicles and buses could benefit with the type of battery tech Tesla is developing.

All images courtesy Tesla

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Johnna Crider

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

Johnna Crider has 1996 posts and counting. See all posts by Johnna Crider