Tesla Unveils Its First Electric Semi

Tesla unveiled its latest electric vehicle on Thursday with CEO Elon Musk making a nighttime presentation of its battery powered, close to self-driving semi-truck. The company said the truck will prove to be less costly and more efficient to operate than today’s diesel trucks that haul goods from coast to coast.

Musk also surprised those in attendance with the launch of the Roadster. Musk said the car would reach 60 miles per in just 1.9 seconds and can travel up to 620 miles between charges. Musk claims the Roadster will be the first production car ever that will have a zero-to-60 time in less than two seconds.

The top speed of the roadster will be 250 miles per hour, said Musk. The Tesla chief said owners of the new Roadster will be able to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back without recharging the battery.

Musk said the new truck would have a 500-mile range on a single charge, greater than most analysts were expecting and sufficient to serve many of the typical routes for trucking.

The truck will go from zero-to-60 in five seconds when not hauling a trailer, and in 20 seconds if carrying its maximum load, which is 80,000 pounds. That is less than a third of the time it takes for diesel trucks, added Musk.

No price was released for the truck but Musk did hint it would be expensive.

However, he added that the truck would be inexpensive to operate, in part due to fewer components that require routine maintenance, such as no engine, drive shaft or transmission.

Instead the semi, now known as the Tesla Semi, is battery powered and has two rear axles, with each having a pair of electric motors, with one for each wheel. The trucks uphill speeds and acceleration will mean it can go further in less time than today’s diesel trucks, Musk added.

Tesla therefore estimates the truck will have a cost of $1.26 per mile to fully operate, in comparison to a diesel truck costing $1.51 per mile.

That cost could drop further to just 85 cents per mile said Tesla if groups of truck will travel in conveys, which would then reduce the wind drag and that Musk said would beat rail prices.

Like other Tesla designs, the truck is much different that the industry norm. The cabin is large enough that both driver and passenger can stand up and the driver’s seat is in the center of the cab on its left side. On both sides, it is flanked by a pair of video screens that provide scheduling and navigation data.

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