Semi Sweet: Tesla Reveals Electric Truck and (Surprise!) New Roadster


Tesla Semi Truck reveal 16 November 2017

From space travel to cars, Elon Musk already has turned the world upside down. Now he’s getting serious about doing the same thing with freight trucks.

Unveiled Thursday evening at an airport hangar in suburban Los Angeles with Musk’s typical flair for suspense and drama, Tesla’s battery-powered Semi will travel 500 miles per charge, accelerate from zero to 60 mph in just five seconds (sports car fast) and provide one million miles of usable life, he said.

And in a vote of confidence, Walmart ordered 15 of the new trucks for use in North America while Canadian grocer Loblaw reserved 25 of the new heavy duty vehicle as part of its goal of an all-electric truck fleet by 2030.

Tesla Semi big rig electric truck

Sales and production are set to start in 2019, though as with Tesla’s timetables with its automobiles, that time frame likely is subject to change.

“We designed the Tesla truck to be a bullet,” Musk told the crowd of about 1,000 fans and journalists in attendance. “It’s like driving a Tesla. It’s just big.”

Such hyperbole followed naturally on how Musk hyped the announcement earlier, for example tweeting on Sunday, “This will blow your mind clear out of your skull and into an alternate dimension.”

But again in a Muskian way, this is an audacious move even for Tesla. Even before the California-based industrial disruptor can prove that it can produce electric vehicles in volume—its Model 3 mainstream-priced EV still faces immense production hurdles before regular sales begin next year—Musk has pivoted the company into another huge challenge.

Semi must be capable of hauling up to 60,000 pounds for hundreds of miles, with batteries that can be recharged in under an hour, and with years of durability. Musk said the company will build a network of “Megachargers” to accommodate the large amount of power that will be required by Semi, which will be able to give the vehicles enough juice in just 30 minutes to travel 400 miles. The Megachargers will be solar-powered.

The vehicle displayed on Thursday also features carbon-fiber body panels, stairs for easy entry and exit, a centered driving seat and enough headroom to stand fully upright. In another surprise, Tesla also revealed a rebooted Roadster:

The surprise debut of the second-generation Roadster came with claims of being the world’s fastest production car.

One of the established industry players, Daimler, was ready for Musk’s dog-and-pony show. On Thursday before Musk’s unveiling, Daimler shared on social media, “We are the first to have an all-electric light-duty truck in series production: the FUSO eCanter.” Another post highlighted the “first road-approved truck for autonomous operation: the Freightliner Inspiration Truck.”

Still, electric trucks such as Semi face challenges in the established based of diesel-powered trucks, which are much cleaner and getting much better mileage than even a few years ago.

How Tesla stoked fan excitement for the Semi (with a side of Roadster) reveal on Twitter: