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Published: 2 December 2017      

Tesla Semi launched

Tesla has launched a 40 ton electric highway truck, for which there are reported to be early orders

Following earlier rumours reported in August, Tesla has launched an electric HGV with a gross weight of 40 tons, called Tesla Semi (for semi-trailer). Autonomy is claimed to be around 300 miles on a single charge of the battery array, although this has aroused some scepticism as it implies a 600-800 kWh battery pack.

A long-haul diesel truck in the US would be expected to cover 1000 miles on a single tank, so Tesla Semi would be used on medium haul trips, which account for around 30% of all US HGV miles.

An all-electric reefer highway truck has recently been introduced in Switzerland

The E-Force One truck in Switzerland and Tesla Semi are fully autonomous. This is qualitatively different from the trials in Sweden and Germany where the electric trucks run under pantographs.

According to reports Tesla will lease the batteries, allowing them to be changed at Tesla "fuel stops." Change-out time is estimated at 4-5 minutes. The ballpark price for the Tesla Semi is around US$150,000, not counting the battery leasing. If the batteries were to be purchased with the Semi, its price would be around US$250,000.

"Semi is the safest, most comfortable truck ever," claims Tesla. "Four independent motors provide maximum power and acceleration and require the lowest energy cost per mile." The motors are mounted on the rear axle.

At grade acceleration from standing to 60 mph with an 80,000 lbs gross load is said to be 20 secs, while maximum speed up a 5% ramp is gtiven as 65 mph. These paramaters, if correct, outperform the latest diesel trucks.

According to Reuters, citing the Wall Street Journal, Tesla has secured an order for 10 Semis from DHL, for "same day delivery" regional and shorthaul trips. There are no plans at this stage to emulate Otto (WorldCargo News, November 2016, p18) with autonomous driving.


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