More details have been obtained about the Tesla semi truck, which is set to be unveiled next month. According to Reuters, the big rig will have a working range of 200 to 300 miles. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is also considering developing an electric tractor trailer to accompany the vehicle.
Scott Perry of Ryder, a fleet operator in Florida, told Reuters that Tesla is building “an electric big-rig known as a ‘day cab’ with no sleeper berth, capable of traveling about 200 to 300 miles with a typical payload before recharging.” It is possible Perry has seen the truck first-hand, as Elon Musk mentioned in June that he would be gathering feedback from the trucking industry.
At a meeting with Tesla shareholders, Musk said “We’re getting them closely involved in the design process, so the biggest customers of the heavy duty Tesla semi are helping ensure that it is specified to their needs, so it’s not a mystery. They already know that it’s going to meet their needs, because they’ve told us what those needs are. So it’ll really just be a question of scaling volume to make as many as we can.”
A conventional semi truck can travel over 1,000 miles on a single tank of fuel. This means the Tesla version will have a substantially lower range. To make up for this, Elon Musk is considering developing an electric tractor trailer. Now, he and his team just need to make sure the technology is feasible.
Even if Tesla’s big rig doesn’t surpass 300 miles, there is still likely to be a market for it. Approximately 30 percent of US trucking jobs are regional trips of 100 to 200 miles, according to Sandeep Kar, the chief strategy officer of Toronto-based Fleet Complete. “As long as (Musk) can break 200 miles he can claim his truck is ’long haul’ and he will be technically right,” said Kar. The fact that the vehicle will have self-driving technology is an added benefit.
Transportation firms are also interested in acquiring electric semi-trucks, as they are less costly to maintain than conventional vehicles. Energy from the grid is also less expensive than diesel. The main challenge is ensuring the big rig’s battery doesn’t take up precious cargo space. When Tesla was pressed for comment via email, a spokesman replied, “Tesla’s policy is to always decline to comment on speculation, whether true or untrue, as doing so would be silly. Silly!”
Tesla isn’t the only automobile manufacturer seeking to expand into the trucking industry. Reportedly, Daimler, the largest truck manufacturer in the world, will begin production this year on an electric delivery truck. The big rig will have a driving range of 100 miles and will be able to carry a payload of 9,400 pounds, or about 1,000 pounds less than its diesel counterpart.
Images via Tesla