It’s been a long wait since we very enthusiastically discovered all of the amazing features and specs of the Tesla Semi when it was revealed 5 years ago, in November 2017. It has been the Tesla vehicle I’ve been most eagerly awaiting, thinking of how much it could cut emissions from high-polluting, heavy-duty, noisy, fossil-fueled semi trucks. There were so many orders originally — PepsiCo, Anheuser-Busch, Walmart, DHL, Sysco, Frito Lay, Titanium Transportation Group, and many others ordered the hot new Tesla Semi. But it has taken longer than expected back in 2017 for those electric semi trucks to reach the road.
I recently published a piece on 2022 updates regarding the Tesla Semi, but that was mostly an appetizer to hold us all over until the big announcement — the start of Tesla Semi deliveries. We now have that announcement!
Elon Musk has just tweeted that Tesla has started actual Tesla Semi production, and deliveries will begin on December 1st, 2022. The first deliveries are going to the aforementioned PepsiCo.
500 mile range & super fun to drive
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 6, 2022
Musk reiterated that the Tesla Semi would have 500 miles of range. We’ll have to wait a bit longer to get more details on power, features, carrying capacity, and autonomy — unless it’s all exactly as stated back in 2017. Though, the big one is 500 miles of range. These are some of the other current details regarding the Semi:
There’s also the topic of “Megachargers” for these fully battery-powered semi trucks. Here’s what I wrote almost exactly one month ago about that: “More notably, Tesla opened up actual order books for the Tesla Semi in May, and it was reported in June that Tesla had installed a Megacharger at a Frito Lay and PepsiCo facility in Modesto, California, in preparation for some of the first Semi deliveries to customers. Megachargers were also installed at Tesla Gigafactory 1 (Giga Nevada) back in January of this year.”
With deliveries beginning in just under 2 months, I expect we’ll get plenty more news soon on Tesla Semi specs, features, and charging stations. Stay tuned!
Also, while we now know when the first Semi trucks will be delivered, we don’t have a sense of how many will be produced and delivered to customers this year or in 2023. Perhaps Tesla will provide some guidance on Semi production and delivery plans during the company’s next quarterly conference call for investors.
Update: Let’s go back a bit to that 2017 Tesla Semi reveal to pull out some key points from then and see what’s changed, what hasn’t, and what’s still not clear.
Regarding design, this is presumably still what the driver will experience: “The first thing you notice when stepping into the Tesla Semi is the complete redesign of the cab. It puts the driver front and center with fishbowl-like visibility out of the front and sides of the cab. Where traditional trucks have a dash, the Tesla Semi has only glass — with all of the gauges, navigation, music, and climate controls that would normally live in the dash having been moved off to two side-mounted 15″ touchscreen displays, borrowed from the Model 3.”
Here are specs, features, and comparisons introduced with the electric semi truck in 2017 (notes from today in italics):
- 20% cheaper than a diesel truck. Diesel truck = $1.51/mile. Tesla Semi = $1.26/mile all-in. Tesla is guaranteeing a 7 cent/kWh price on electricity. [Note: a diesel truck today must cost more than $1.51/mile to operate.]
- In a convoy, a diesel truck is twice as expensive as a Tesla Semi. And a Tesla Semi is even cheaper than a train. Can be deployed today and is 10 times safer than with a driver. Brings the cost per mile down to $0.85. [Note: I believe “can be deployed today” meant that Tesla had the semi-autonomous software developed to allow travel in a convoy. Clearly, the trucks weren’t ready for production yet, so convoys of Tesla Semis couldn’t be deployed in November 2017.]
- Drag coefficient = .36 for Tesla Semi. Diesel truck = .65–.70, Bugatti Chiron = .38. Bottom of the truck is completely flat. Automatic system pulls truck container closer to the cab while driving.
500 mile range at GVW & highway speed. (80% of routes are less than 250 miles)
Tesla Semi can maintain 65 mph up 5% grade. Diesel semi trucks can only go 45 mph up a 5% grade.
0–60 in 5 seconds vs 15 seconds for a diesel semi. With 80,000 lb load, 0–60 in 20 seconds.
- Charging: 400 miles of range in 30 minutes at “Megachargers.”
- Drivetrain guaranteed to last 1 million miles. [Note: I doubt this one holds, given that I’ve seen reports that Tesla’s current electric motors last about 200,000 miles.]
- Because the 4 motors are redundant, the Tesla Semi can operate with just two of the four motors … and still beat the diesel truck in acceleration. [Note: At the moment, Tesla is just showing a tri-motor (3-motor) option on its website. A 4-motor option will probably come in the future.]
- Thermonuclear explosion-proof glass. “It survives a nuclear explosion or you get a full refund.” [Note: Hmmm. That’s an interesting claim in the current context.]
Specs and pricing from Tesla’s website in 2019:
Notice that those details are essentially the same as the ones shown on the site today. However, pricing is no longer shown on the Tesla website, and presumably those prices are considerably higher today.
Production was supposed to begin in 2019. Perhaps development took a bit longer than expected, but the core reason for the Semi’s delay appears to have simply been that Tesla didn’t have enough batteries. Tesla’s Model 3 and later Model Y have been wildly popular, and even their production is still limited by lack of batteries. Without more batteries, Tesla has delayed Cybertruck production as well as Semi production, and production of other vehicles as well.
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