The oft-delayed Tesla Semi electric truck appears closer to Elon Musk’s latest prediction of shipping before the end of the year. New details on Tesla’s website shows a production-intent model. But lots of questions remain.
The Tesla website contains three new video clips and photos of the second-generation prototype. This follows Musk’s Aug. 10 tweet: “500 mile range Semi Truck starts shipping this year.” Musk last predicted the truck for late 2023.
The updated website does not address production timing. But the orderbook requiring a $20,000 deposit per truck appears closed. The “Order Now” button has been replaced by a “Get Updates” button. Previous pricing of $150,000 for the 300-mile range version and $180,000 for the 500-mile truck also have been removed from the website.
From the time of its introduction in 2017, the Semi has attracted thousands of orders from fleets large and small. Only PepsiCo subsidiary Frito-Lay is in line to get early trucks. It expected delivery of 15 Semis by the end of 2021. Tesla has installed a Mega Charger on Frito-Lay’s distribution site in Modesto, California.
Modified specs of the Tesla Semi
Tesla modified some aspects of the prototype. Instead of four electric motors, the Semi will have three independent motors on the rear axles. The company promises instant torque and unmatched power at any speed so drivers can safely merge and keep pace with traffic.
Tesla promises acceleration from 0-60 mph in 20 seconds for a fully loaded truck with a combined gross combination weight of 82,000 pounds able to maintain highway speeds up a 5% grade. Tesla estimates that charging with electricity will be 2.5 times cheaper than the price of diesel measured in California between February and July.
The estimated fuel savings versus a conventional diesel-powered truck is $200,000 over three years, Tesla said.
Advanced motor and brake controls enhance traction and stability in all conditions, Tesla said. A central seating position, similar to construction equipment, provides better visibility. An all-electric architecture reduces rollover risk and the likelihood of cabin intrusion in a crash.
In one of the video clips, Tesla showed the cabin with dual 15-inch screens located on either side of the steering wheel. The Semi now has roller balls for steering like those on the Model 3/Y passenger cars. Buttons for various functions are now visible. Other changes from the first version are extended windows, new door handles and side mirrors.
Despite removing traction drive one motor from the original prototype, the Semi maintains its 300-mile and 500-mile driving ranges between chargings. Each uses just 2 kilowatt (kWh) hours of electricity consumption per mile.
The Semi Changer, also known as the Mega Charger, can replenish the batteries’ state of charge to 70% in 30 minutes. Competitors promise direct-current state of charge to 80% in 90 minutes.