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Tesla unveils new line of electric tractor-trailers

18 November 2017, 01:22 | Hattie Nash

Tesla reveals electric lorry to revolutionise haulage

Tesla Semi

On its website, Tesla said that its Roadster production auto, the newest version of its original sports vehicle, can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds.

The Roadster has three motors (one in the front; two in the rear) and is capable of going 0-60mph in a stunning 1.9 seconds, with a top speed of over 250mph (402kph) and 620 mile range (998km or over 1000km as Musk puts it) at highway speeds.

Musk pulled a major surprise for the audience at its event after the Semi unveiling, by debuting the company's new second-generation Roadster, which it calls the "quickest auto in the world, with record-setting acceleration, range and performance".

Just like it has built a global network of "superchargers" for its passenger EVs, Tesla plans to build a network of "megachargers" around the world for trucks refuelling on the go, with the powerful plugs able to deliver 400 miles of charge in less than 30 minutes.

Without a trailer, the Tesla Semi goes from zero to 60 miles per hour in five seconds, compared to 15 seconds in a comparable diesel truck, Tesla said, and does zero to 60 miles per hour in 20 seconds with a full 80,000-pound load.

"When we take off, if we're at full power, we'll go Plaid, we'll go Plaid", says the Tesla employee giving the Roadster test ride.

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Tesla reveals electric lorry to revolutionise haulage
Tesla Roadster “Founders Edition” requires $250k deposit now

The stock is up more than 4% after the event.

Tesla claims the electric costs of the Semi are half that of a traditional diesel semi truck, thanks to fewer systems to maintain (no transmission or brake pads to name a few), providing a number of over $200,000 United States dollars in fuel savings, and a two-year payback period.

But most of that growth is expected to be for smaller, medium-duty haulers like garbage trucks or delivery vans. A Carnegie Mellon study estimated the cost of the Semi's battery pack alone to be roughly $200,000, with the typical diesel truck priced at just $120,000, the BBC points out. They can also be fully charged overnight.

Regardless of whether Musk is right about the typical length of trucking routes, 500 miles is still far less than diesel trucks can travel. Without Tesla's promised fast-charging, even a mid-sized truck would likely require a two-hour stop, cutting into companies' efficiency and profits, says Brian Irwin, managing director of the North American industrial group for the consulting firm Accenture.

Musk hopes his truck will eventually replace diesel lorries on the road. It faces stiff competition from long-trusted brands like Daimler AG, which unveiled its own semi prototype last month.

The semi's drive systems are guaranteed to last for 1 million miles, Tesla said.

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