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Elon Musk: Tesla Semi may hit 621 miles of range

Possible 1-ton capacity loss to compensate for battery weight

(Photo credit: Tesla)

The weight of an electric semi truck battery has been a longstanding conundrum for electric vehicle advocates, as conventional wisdom posits that it would need to be so dense and heavy as to displace cargo, putting the trucks at a disadvantage compared to diesel competitors.

The range of an electric battery is the other big challenge, of course, since long-haul trucks need sufficient power to drive the distance.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, speaking during this week’s European Battery Conference, commented on both the weight and range of the much-anticipated Tesla Semi, saying that the all-electric Class 8 truck might have to sacrifice 1 ton of capacity compared to a diesel-powered big rig.

“You are able to carry basically the same cargo as a diesel truck,” Musk said. “We think that maybe there’s a 1-ton penalty. Maybe. At this point, we think that we can have less than 1-ton cargo reduction, and we think long term it’s going to be zero cargo reduction for electric trucks.

Referring to the range of the Tesla Semi, Musk has said previously the company will release two options for the Semi: one running for 500 kilometers or 310 miles, and the other 800 kilometers or 497 miles.

Today he upped the high end to 1,000 kilometers, or 621 miles.

“Getting a range of let’s say 500 kilometers is I think quite easy, trivial to be frank, for a semi truck. If you want, for long-range trucking, you can take the range up to, we think, easily 800 kilometers, and we see a path over time to 1,000-kilometers (621 miles) range for a heavy-duty truck.”

“This will be compelling to trucking companies,” Musk said.

Musk also said the Tesla Semi would hit the new range target by using Tesla’s new 4680 cells and new battery pack design that Tesla unveiled at its Battery Day event in September.

The Tesla Semi has been plagued by delays. Earlier this year, Musk said the electric trucks would come online in 2021, two years later than the original delivery date.

Linda Baker, Senior Environment and Technology Reporter

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves senior reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes autonomous vehicles, the startup scene, clean trucking, and emissions regulations. Please send tips and story ideas to [email protected].