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Tesla Semi appears closer to production with release of new details

Production-intent images support Musk’s tweet of shipping this year

The Tesla Semi appears closer to production intent in newly released company images and videos. (Photo: Tesla)

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 The “Order Now” button has been replaced by a “Get Updates” button.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.

Tesla Semi interior
A centered driver’s seat with 15-inch video displays on each side of the steering wheel. (Photo: Tesla)

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.

Frontal view of Tesla Semi
The Tesla Semi has new side mirrors that differ from the ones on the original prototype from 2017. (Photo: Tesla)

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.

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler


    1. michael

      Kind of a dumb response…what’s Pepsi hauling? Air too? Not even close to a logical response. Did you come just to hate on them?

      1. Lincoln

        Kind of a dumb response… What’s Pepsi hauling? They are not hauling anything with Tesla semis. The article says only their subsidiary Frito-Lay will be getting these trucks. Not even close to a logical response. Did you reply just to hate on him?

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.