Tesla Inc., the U.S. automaker, energy storage company and solar panel manufacturer, recently announced its new lineup of electric-powered vehicles. They include the Tesla Roadster, a new car, and the Tesla Semi, an all-electric semi-truck.
The Semi is a four-motor truck with a range of 500 miles and some self-driving capabilities, according to The Verge. The regular versions of the 300-mile and 500-mile trucks are priced at around $150,000 and $180,000 each, respectively.
Tesla claims its Semi truck provides numerous benefits compared to its counterparts. For example, it can go from zero to 60 mph in a mere five seconds, and from zero to 60 mph towing 80,000 pounds, its maximum tow load, in only 20 seconds, a rate much faster than the average diesel truck.
The Semi also offers a transmission that does not require the shifting of gears, a normal requirement for electric vehicles, with regenerative braking.
Tesla asserts that the truck outperforms its diesel rivals regarding qualities such as responsiveness and handling. The Semi can cover more miles than a semi-diesel truck in the same time span, with safer operation in and around traffic, according to TechCrunch.
The Tesla Semi also boasts an unconventional design. The company claims that its cabin is tailored specifically for drivers, with stairs that are designed to make it easier to get in and out, and the ability to stand fully when inside the cab.
According to TechCrunch, the driver is also centered in the cab relative to the road, and there is a removable jump seat for a passenger as well. Touchscreens are positioned on either side of the driver, offering navigation information, blind spot monitoring and trip data logging applications. There are also fleet management and routing tools.
The Semi will charge itself at solar-powered Megachargers, and can get 400 miles of range on a single 30-minute charge. Tesla plans to have these Megachargers placed worldwide so that consumers can easily charge their vehicles.
The Tesla Semi also offers advanced safety features. It has a special battery design that helps reinforce the battery units.
The windshield is also made of impact resistant glass, and the truck is made to avoid jackknifing by automatically detecting any instability that could lead to this issue. If it detects an issue, the truck will torque each wheel accordingly, while also activating the brakes.
Cameras are included to try eliminating blind spots and help support the detection of objects. They provide alerts to the driver automatically whenever potential hazards are identified.
According to TechCrunch, “Tesla has also built Enhanced Autopilot features into its Semi, which is not surprising given the work it’s done pioneering and refining these drier assistance features on its lineup of consumer cars.”
On the Semi, Tesla’s Autopilot offers automated emergency braking, lane keeping and lane departure warnings to help encourage safe highway driving.
This version of the truck is a day truck, designed for short hauls, and without a sleeper. Tesla said it could easily extend the cab to accommodate a sleeper cabin, and then extend the underlying battery pack to support that as well. It can also be used with or without the aerodynamic cowling above the hood, depending on the height of the trailer it is pulling.
Electric trucks are not only being worked on by Tesla. Nikola Motor Company is working on a hybrid hydrogen-powered electric powertrain, which the company is building together with Bosch.
Daimler AG has revealed its own concept for a Mitsubishi E-FUSO fully electric, Vision One truck with 220 miles of range, but with no specified release window so far. The long-term advantages of electric trucks are great, from an obvious ecological perspective, to a more economic, cost-effective standpoint. According to The Verge, most long-haul diesel trucks are priced around $120,000 and cost tens of thousands of dollars to operate annually.
Tesla claims its Semi, which is all electric, will provide more than $200,000 in fuel savings over the lifespan of the vehicle.
Compared to their diesel brethren, electric trucks could live longer and be less expensive to maintain long term. The cost to refuel them over their lifetimes should be far less than the cost to operate a truck that uses an internal combustion engine, like diesel trucks do. Tesla says the Semi requires “significantly less maintenance” than a diesel truck, in particular because “it lacks the high-strain moving parts of internal combustion engine vehicles, including the engine, transmission, after-treatment system and differentials,” according to TechCrunch.
Companies such as DHL Express and Walmart have already put in limited orders for Tesla’s electric Semi truck, most likely interested in the potential of these vehicles over conventional diesel ones.
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