Due to go into production in 2019, the Semi has already received several pre-orders (at $5,000 per vehicle) despite no official prices yet being released – notably, according to reports, retailer Walmart will trial 15 of the vehicles across the US and Canada.
As well as accelerating three times faster than a comparable diesel truck – 0-60mph in five seconds without a trailer; 20 seconds with a full 80,000lb (36,287kg) load – Tesla says the Semi will climb 5% gradients at 65mph.
With no engine, transmission, after-treatment system or differentials, the Semi’s maintenance requirements are also much lower than IC-engined counterparts. Regenerative braking recovers 98% of kinetic energy to the battery, giving it a “basically infinite brake life”, says the company.
The range is said to be 500 miles gvw, at which load the truck will consume less than 2kWh of energy per mile – and Tesla says this means operators could save $200,000 in fuel costs over one million miles.
Tesla says that megachargers – a new high-speed charging solution – will mean vehicles can add 400 miles of range with a 30-minute charge. The megachargers can be installed at origin or destination points and along heavily trafficked routes, enabling recharging during loading, unloading and driver breaks.
Inside, the driver’s seat is positioned in the centre of the cab, with touchscreen displays left and right. These give access to telematics, navigation, blind-spot monitoring, maintenance and fleet management information – a technology combination only available currently with several third party systems, says Tesla.
Safety features include surround cameras, a reinforced battery with low centre of gravity and impact-resistant windscreen. Onboard sensors detect instability, which could lead to jack-knifing, and react with positive or negative torque to each wheel while independently actuating all brakes.
Tesla’s Enhanced Autopilot system will be fitted as standard: this includes automatic emergency braking, automatic lane keeping and lane departure warning functions.
The truck will also operate as part of a platoon, says the company, where one or more Semi trucks will be able to autonomously follow a lead vehicle.