Gas prices are getting a bit ridiculous lately. Something needs to be done about that. The BAMF’s over at Tesla have. At a press conference, they have revealed the Tesla Semi. Something they have been talking about for a while, and honestly I expected it to be more of a short distance work truck, but its not. It is absolutely a long haul semi truck, and its better than a diesel in every way.
To start, the performance of the semi is insane. Yeah, its a semi, you don't buy it for performance, but time is money. 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 5 seconds empty trailer and 20 seconds full load (80,000 pounds), compared to 15 seconds in a diesel empty trailer. A lot happens in 15 seconds on a highway, and in a conventional diesel semi with 18 gears thats a lot of shifting gears. In a Tesla semi you just go, being electric there are no gears to shift, you get up to speed a lot faster and you don't have to work nearly as hard to get there. And if something does happen while accelerating where you have to slow down, you don't have to shift 18 times to get back up to speed.
We have also all been stuck behind a slow semi, hazard lights flashing, going slow up a hill. For a diesel, that is a fact of life, as with a full load they have to stay in a lower gear and be careful not to overwork the machine. A typical diesel on a 5% grade hill (5 feet vertical change in height for every 100 feet forward) has a maximum speed of 45 mph (72 km), that isn't slow, but 5% isn't that steep either. Compare that to a Tesla Semi that can do 65 mph (104 km/h) on a 5% grade, thats full highway speed still.
However, the most important part is range. As if this truck was only the short distance work truck, it wouldn't matter. But it isn't a short distance work truck, this is a full long haul Semi. To start, the battery from full charge has a 500 mile range, thats plenty far enough. On top of that, Tesla will have a dedicated “megacharge” network similar to the superchargers for their cars, where they can get a 400 mile charge in 30 minutes. Yes, that is not a full charge, but thats hours of driving you can recharge in the legally required half hour lunch break a driver must take. For comparison, Google says it is 602 miles from Vancouver to Calgary, that is as far as a truck driver would legally be allowed to drive in a day, and its doable as long as they take their required half hour break at a Tesla charger with lots of charge to spare. Tesla being Tesla, the megacharger will be solar powered.
Gone are the days of your basic groceries going up in price because gas prices went up and its now costing the truckers more to get your milk to the store. With the truck being electric, its dirt cheap to run. It is actually 20% cheaper to run per mile to operate than conventional diesel semi. Tesla has also built in their autonomous driving capabilities, suddenly one person can pilot one truck and have two autonomous trucks traveling as a convoy following, that cost per mile to operate drops even further.
With deliveries planned for 2019, it wont be long before the conventional semi truck manufacturers have to attempt to compete with this. The diesel semi will not be around for long.