The trucking industry has been discussing the possibility of driverless semi-truck capabilities for at least a decade. Never to be outdone, Elon Musk recently unveiled a Tesla truck prototype. Here’s what you need to know about the company’s latest innovation – and when you can expect it on our nation’s roadways.
Model 3 Parts, Serious Towing Power
The company’s newest electric vehicle shares a number of parts with Tesla’s mass market passenger vehicle, the Model 3. It has the same motor, and even the same door handles. The reveal, which came earlier than expected, is Musk’s latest step in being an innovator. The vehicle represents a risk for the company that lives to be on the cutting edge, but eccentric CEO Musk says that the truck is a natural stepping stone, makes economic sense, and is one step closer to fulfilling his vision of building a sustainable energy company.
Musk himself rode into the unveiling in the Tesla Semi at a brisk speed, a testament to his vision for the new product, which will go from zero to 60 in 20 seconds, even fully loaded. The finished model will have a 500-mile range on a single battery charge, assuming the vehicle travels 65 miles an hour. In an unexpected announcement, Musk said that the truck would be ready for production earlier than expected – the company is already taking reservations for its release in 2019.
The CEO said that the Tesla Semi – it’s official name – will handle just like any of its other passenger vehicles. It, like its counterparts, will have the ability to use mega chargers, which generate the power for charging the battery through solar panels.
The Tesla Semi is the largest heavy-duty freight truck, a Class 8. It’s a fifth wheel vehicle and is capable of towing any size trailer, which gives companies with extra flexibility. In North America, the semi would be able to pull trailers as long as 53 feet. It also comes loaded with many impressive features and specifications that speak to its utility and efficiency:
- The Tesla Semi has 3 drive axles, and each axle has a motor (the same motor in the Model 3).
- The cab of the truck gives the drivers a better view and handling because it’s pushed forward. This is possible because there’s no need for traditional diesel truck parts, like a transmission or even an engine. The cab itself is spacious, with a captain’s chair and a second seat.
- Two touchscreens available on each side of the driver offer built-in connectivity to a company’s fleet management software. This will help with remote monitoring and routing.
- The Tesla Semi has “regenerative braking,” which recycles power back to the battery when drivers take their foot off the accelerator.
Tesla fully intends to have its semis on the road by 2019. And with a scant $5,000 reservation fee, companies are clamoring to get their hands on one. The unveiling of the Tesla Semi represents a new milestone in improving the sustainability of the trucking industry.