Tesla recently unveiled its new all-electric semi-truck with the hope of shaking up the auto industry once again.
Billed as quicker and more economical than today’s diesel-powered trucks, the Tesla Semi was designed and built to be like a bullet according to Elon Musk, Tesla’s co-founder and chief executive.
Speaking at the big rig’s reveal, Musk said he aims to start production in 2019 with deliveries by 2020 despite some analysts expressing caution over Tesla’s ability to meet its own timetable.
A super saver
According to Tesla the Semi features four independent electric motors and a transmission that requires no shifting of gears. This means it can accelerate to 100 kilometers per hour in five seconds – reaching that speed in 20 seconds while hauling a maximum 36 000 kilogram load, much faster than a traditional diesel truck.
Most importantly, it can travel 800 kilometers between charges, more than double the length of most truck routes, 80% of which, according to Musk, are 250 miles or less.
“So it means you can go to your destination and back without recharging,” he noted.
Tesla claims its Semi, which could be recharged at the firm’s 1 000 free Supercharger stations worldwide, can save 20% over conventional transport rigs with fuel and insurance factored in – while delivering a “better experience” for truck drivers through its cab design.
Built for comfort
With no front engine or gear shift to accommodate, the driver’s seat is positioned in the centre of a panoramic windshield, with a dominating view of the road.
Instead of the traditional console, there are touch screens for navigation, music and traffic data.
Inside, the cab has enough head and legroom to stand up and walk around. The traditional second front seat is relegated to the back of the cab as a jump seat.
The Semi also uses some of the same navigation aids as Tesla’s Model 3 sedan, such as cameras, and sensors designed to minimize blind spots, abrupt lane changes and emergency stops.
Bumps in the road?
But despite the truck’s glitzy debut, some analysts warned it remains unclear if or when Tesla can deliver on its promises AFP reported.
“We’ve come to expect very forward-thinking products from Tesla,” said Rebecca Lindland, analyst for the auto research firm Kelley Blue Book. Lindland told AFP the Tesla Semi concept “makes a lot of sense” for vehicles with predictable routes like garbage trucks or school buses.
She added however that Musk “is not great at keeping deadlines” and that “we need to add weeks, months or years” to his timetable.