Just as Tesla disrupted the car market, it is trying to do the same with heavy trucking. In late 2017, it revealed its long-awaited Semi pure-electric heavy-duty truck in front of customers at its Hawthorne, CA, facility. In its pitch, Tesla is focusing on performance and total cost of ownership.
The Semi accelerates from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 5 s, vs. 15 s in a comparable diesel truck, and with a full 80,000-lb (36,300-kg) load in 20 s, a task that Tesla says takes a comparable diesel truck about a minute. Fully loaded, the Semi consumes less than 2 kW·h of energy per mile, making it capable of a 500-mi (805-km) range in top configuration at its maximum GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) rating of 80,000 lb and at a 60-mph highway speed. (The company says that nearly 80% of freight in the U.S. is moved less than 250 mi (402 km) per trip.) Tesla targeted the lowest cost of truck ownership through savings in energy, performance, efficiency, and reliability.
With far fewer moving parts than a diesel truck—no combustion engine, transmission, aftertreatment, or differentials to upkeep—the Semi is said to require significantly less maintenance. With four independent drivetrains on the rear axles, the company is guaranteeing its truck won’t break down for a million miles. The company claims $1.51/ mi cost for a diesel truck compared with $1.26/mi for a Semi for a 100-mi route, 60-mph average speed, 80,000-lb GVW, $2.50/gal diesel, and a $0.07/kW·h Megacharger electricity price—for a two-year payback period.
The 0.36-Cd Semi can also travel in a convoy, autonomously following a lead Semi. Tesla says that a Semi three-truck autonomous convoy would achieve $0.85/mile. Semi production is said to begin in 2019, with delivery in 2020. Notable customers include Walmart, Anheuser-Busch, and Pepsi.
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