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Tesla Semi cabin interior view from the top while the driver is sitting in his seat. Credit: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.


Tesla Semi Real World Report, Standard Range Model S & Model X Introduced

The Tesla Semi is hard at work at the PepsiCo terminal in Sacramento where it is in use daily to transport products to local distribution points.

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Tesla, as we all know, is very tight lipped about anything having to do with the performance or specifications of its coming vehicles. What we do know (or think we know) is that it has delivered 36 Tesla Semi Class 8 tractors to PepsiCo and Frito-Lay in California. 21 of them are in use at the Pepsi distribution center in Sacramento and the other 15 are servicing the Frito-Lay distribution center in Modesto.

Recently, the North American Council For Freight Efficiency visited Pepsi’s Sacramento location, where it spoke with drivers, managers, and representatives of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District to learn more about how the Tesla Semi performs in real-world driving. They put together a 12-minute-long video that answers some of the questions people have about the Semi.

PepsiCo uses 18 of the 21 Tesla Semis for deliveries within a 100 mile (160 km) radius of its distribution center. The trucks operate in two shifts with multiple stops that can require drivers to stop as many as 12 to 15 times along the route.

According to Amanda DeVoe, the director of transformation and strategy for PepsiCo, using electric vehicles for these short trips between the company’s bottling warehouse in Sacramento and delivery locations is particularly useful. Dejan Antunovic, the head of electrification, said the remaining three units will definitely be used for long distances of 250 to 450 miles (400 to 725 km). Tesla officially says the electric truck has a range of 500 miles (over 800 km) when fully loaded.

Tesla Semi tractor

Image courtesy of Tesla

The Tesla Semi is a Class 8 tractor, which means it can have a gross weight of 80,000 pounds, including the trailer. Sharp-eyed readers will note that trucks in the video carry a gross weight rating of 82,000. That is because federal regulations allow them to be 2,000 pounds heavier to account for the extra weight of the batteries.

So, how much does a Tesla Semi weigh? No one knows and Tesla isn’t saying. According to Onsite, a trucking industry website, a Class 8 tractor can weigh anywhere from 10,000 pounds to 25,000 pounds depending on its intended use. We can assume the Semi is at the heavier end of that scale. We still have no information about prices, size of the battery pack, or efficiency.

However, Antunovic says the Tesla Semi can recapture enough energy from its regenerative braking system rolling downhill from the Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada mountains to pretty much equal the energy needed to climb up that grade. He says PepsiCo achieves an average efficiency of 1.7 kWh per mile (1.1 kWh per km) with the Tesla Semi fully loaded. The Tesla website claims an efficiency of “less than 2 kWh per mile,” so that part is just about spot on.

PepsiCo has four 750 kW chargers at its depot in Sacramento, even though Tesla says the Semi can accept up to 1000 kW of charging power. The four chargers required SMUD to install a new supply trunk and substation to meet the needs of the Tesla Semi fleet. Even though the chargers are not as powerful as the trucks can handle, they still allow them to be recharged and back on the road in under 45 minutes.

The Semi has three electric motors, with one optimized for acceleration and the other two optimized for efficient cruising. You will notice in the video how far forward the driver sits, which affords a panoramic view of the road ahead.

We can surmise that the trucks already in service are providing plenty of feedback to Tesla and the lessons learned will be applied to improving the trucks when the time comes to begin volume production.

PepsiCo is fully committed to using electric vehicles at its Sacramento distribution center. It uses battery-powered yard tractors to shuttle semi trailers around in the yard and has a fleet of Ford e-Transit vans for servicing its fleet of trucks. It also uses battery-powered forklifts to move pallets around inside its warehouse and to load the trailers that will be pulled by its Tesla Semi tractors.

Tesla Model S & Model X Standard Range Announced

In a surprise move, Tesla announced this week it is now offering so-called “standard range” versions of the Model S and Model X. Both are priced $10,000 less than the long-range versions of those cars. In each case, the battery pack is identical to the one fitted to the regular cars but is software limited to reduce available capacity.

According to a Sawyer Merritt post on social media, the Model S Standard Range starts at $78,490 and has 320 miles of range, while the Standard Range Model X starts at $88,490 and has a 269-mile range. Tesla in the past has offered some Model S sedans with software-limited batteries that could be unlocked later to get back to full capacity — for a fee, of course — but Merritt says “Tesla does not plan to offer firmware upgrades to unlock more range or performance in the future.”

The Model S and X made up only 3.4% of Tesla’s H1 deliveries but are considered important for its profit margins. The starting price of the Model S has now dropped by $26,500 since the beginning of 2023, while the Model X has come down by $32,500, according to an email received at the CleanTechnica global communications center from Inside Business.

Tesla uses LFP batteries for the standard range versions of the Model 3 and Model Y, but Merritt claims that is not the case for the Model S and Model X cars. The battery packs are the same as those used for the Long Range models and both cars still have dual-motor powertrains. What they don’t have is the same performance.

According to the Tesla website, peak power is 493 kW (670 hp) for the Long Range versions of both cars but only 381 kW (491 hp) for the Standard Range vehicles. Acceleration to 60 mph takes 3.7 seconds for the Model S Standard Range and 4.0 seconds for the Model X Standard Range. The top speed is 155 mph for both versions of the Model X and 149 mph for both versions of the Model S. Both variants can charge with up to 250 kW of power at Supercharger locations.

According to Tesla’s US website, deliveries will start as early as September. The new Standard Range versions are not yet listed in the configurator in Europe.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."


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