Elon Musk unveils the long range Tesla Semi electric truck

Elon Musk unveils the long range Tesla Semi electric truck

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Elon Musk is unveiling his company’s electric truck, the Tesla Semi, promising long range and big savings. Here’s what we know…

Source: Tesla
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Source: Tesla
Source: Tesla

US electric vehicle and battery giant Tesla has unveiled its electric truck concept, the Tesla Semi, at the company’s design studio in California on Thursday night (US time).

The reveal – which was live-streamed on the company’s website – has been well hyped, particularly by Tesla founder CEO Elon Musk, who had Tweeted on Monday that it would “blow your mind clear out of your skull.”

We’re not sure that that happened, but here are the key details: It will deliver savings of $US200,000 over diesel trucks over a million miles (1.6 million kms) and will have a range of 500 miles (800kms), far beyond its competitors. It will use less than two kilowatt-hours of energy per mile.

Source: Tesla
Source: Tesla

And it can perform. It can go from 0 to 100kmh in five seconds without cargo, or reach 100kmh in 20 seconds at the maximum weight allowed on US.

It can climb 5 per cent grades at a steady 110kmh, and requires no shifting or clutching for smooth acceleration and deceleration, and its regenerative braking recovers 98 per cent of kinetic energy to the battery, giving it a basically infinite brake life.

“I can drive this thing and I have no idea how to drive a semi,” Musk said.

Of course, Tesla is not the only company working to roll out electric trucks.

Cummins, a leading US maker of diesel and natural gas engines for commercial trucks, unveiled a Class 7 truck cab in late August, featuring an advanced 140kWh battery pack that it will sell to bus operators and commercial truck fleets starting in 2019.

And Canada’s largest retailer, Loblaw, unveiled a 53 foot, fully electric class 8 BYD electric truck at the start of the month – the first in a transition of its company-owned fleet to EVs.

But Tesla, is Tesla.

And as Giles Parkinson wrote here, the Tesla Semi stands to do to the massive global road freight industry what the Model S, 3 and X will do – already are doing – to petrol cars; and what the Spacex program did to the space industry; and what the Tesla battery storage devices and the solar tile might do to the utilities and roofing industries respectively.

In the case of the Tesla Semi, however, this disruption could mainly be due to the cost: Morgan Stanley has said the Tesla Semi could be 70 per cent cheaper to operate than a diesel-powered truck and Musk reinforced this point, that it would be “economic suicide” to continue driving diesel trucks.

Here’s what we know about the Tesla Semi:

More aerodynamic than a Bugatti Chiron

A post shared by Tesla (@teslamotors) on

* It will be a fully electric “Class 8 truck,” the largest heavy duty freight trucks.

*It will have a 200kWh battery pack. “The point of doing this is to give a hardcore smackdown to internal combustion cars,” Musk said.

* Musk has confirmed it will have a range of up to 800km (500 miles) on a single charge, and will be able to add 400 miles (643km) of range in 30 minutes of charging. “By the time you are done with your break, the truck is ready to go. You will not be waiting for your truck to charge,” he said.

*The trucks will be charged via specialised “megachargers” which will generate the energy required to charge the battery via solar panels. “Your truck is running on sunlight,” said Musk.

*Tesla is guaranteeing the drive train for 1 million miles, and the brake pads will have “quasi-infinite” lifespan with regenerative braking that also features in Tesla’s cars.

*The Semi will have an average cost of $1.26/mile versus $1.51/mile for diesel truck.

*Customers can pay a $US5,000 reservation fee now for a Semi, with production set to begin in 2019.

*The Semi shares a number of parts with Tesla’s mass-market passenger vehicle the Model 3, including the same motor – although there are four of them in the Semi – and the same door handles.

*It can travel from zero to 100km per hour in five seconds, or 20 seconds with a load of 36 tonnes (80,000 pounds). Top speed is over 250 miles (400km/h).

*The Semi’s cabin has a centred drivers seat, four seats in total.

*The Tesla semi also has the company’s autopilot advanced driver assistance system found in the electric passenger vehicles.

*The cab has two touchscreen displays positioned on either side of the driver, and built-in connectivity that integrates directly with a fleet’s management system, to support scheduling and remote monitoring.

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  1. Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

    Plenty of flat space up on top of the trailer for solar panels too.

    • Chris Marshalk 3 years ago

      Future looks great. Cost of goods & services should be cheaper with semi

    • Matthew Jenkinson 3 years ago

      Not enough. Even 6kW would only give 20km per day, assuming no shade.

      • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

        20km per day is 7300 free kms per year

        • Matthew Jenkinson 3 years ago

          Compared with 7c/kWh for the superchargers, that’s under $500 a year saving, assuming best case scenario.
          If it could increase productivity significantly would be totally worth it, but I can’t see 20km max extra making enough of a difference.

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            Compared to free?

          • Matthew Jenkinson 3 years ago

            You misunderstand. That’s an investment of 6kW of solar capacity to save yourself maximum $500 per year (much less in reality due to shading). And that’s assuming you get to keep the trailer – there are plenty of trucks that pick up and drop trailers owned by someone else as part of their business.

            I can’t see solar being a big deal cost wise for this application (onboard solar on a truck), there simply isn’t enough space to generate the savings to make it worth the extra effort, but if the efficiency was upgraded a LOT then the productivity gains from increased range may make it worth the effort. Still won’t work if you don’t use your own trailer.

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            The fundamental reason for buying one of these electric trucks is to save big on the high operational costs of fueling and servicing. Don’t think of a solar generating trailer as a $500 saving by comparison to a plain electric truck, think of it as an additional/bonus saving by comparison to having to fuel the truck with diesel for those kilometres.

            Here’s a commenter’s calc which totals 12,000 free miles or 19,200 free kms per year…


            The other commenters in that link suggest the calc is too ambitious. Fair enough, so let’s go conservative and halve his estimate to 9600 free kilometres per year. Cost of diesel (Australia) is $1.25 per litre @ 2km per litre fuel efficiency for a big rig. So having the solar panels on the trailer would save $6000 in diesel costs for those 9600 free kms per year. A $60,000 saving from the solar trailer over a decade of ownership by comparison to diesel fueling. That saving is on top of the already good savings that are occurring by charging the vehicle instead of fueling it plus the cost savings on servicing, both of which make the switch to electric sensible in the first place.

            Yes the assumption is that the owner buys the complete rig and doesn’t swap the trailer, and that Tesla uses their efficient production line to install high efficiency solar panels into the trailer roof cheaply within the manufacturing process.

          • Matthew Jenkinson 3 years ago

            The problem with that argument is that solar cells don’t work with diesel, and so the comparison really has to be diesel vs EV without vs EV with solar cells. Now, if they give a larger range to enable better productivity, that’s a different story completely – if in that case, EV with solar could enable identical productivity to diesel with the huge cost benefits of EV, that alone would be enough to make it worthwhile.

            But lets use the example of 9600km free. That’s a saving over the electricity cost (let’s assume 20c/kWh AUD) of $2400 per year, based on 1.25kWh/km (2kWh/mile). That $2400 per year saving comes at a significant initial investment cost, and would take several years to pay back the investment. This would get better with higher electricity costs, higher PV efficiency, or more efficient trucks (less kWh/km).

            Now lets compare that to the cost of simply moving to an EV over a diesel – using your figures, they sound about right. Lets assume 200k km/year, keeping in mind that this is an optimum scenario – the more km’s the truck does, the larger the savings.

            Diesel truck @ $0.65 per km = $130k
            EV truck @ $0.19 per km = $37.5k
            EV with Solar = $35k (-$2.4k from earlier)

            In the scheme of things, simply shifting to EV will be such a massive saving that panels on the trailer will be trivial by comparison, particularly considering the extra outlay. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure some will do it, but it will require trucks to be wired for it and to always use a trailer that has it.

            NOW, having said all that, if they put them on triples or road trains, that could actually make a big difference, as the efficiency of the truck would not decrease at the same rate that the panels output would increase. So you now get triple the energy, and it costs say half again as much for the tractor, you actually get to increase your daily range by ~80km, which is nearly $7k per year savings over grid electricity, but more importantly almost another hour of solid driving per day without charging.

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            That cost comparison in the middle of your comment does put it in good perspective. As I said the solar addition would be a bonus on top of the main cost savings of standard fueling and servicing. (Speaking of servicing, at 200km/year think of the costs savings with only having to do a light service for electric trucks once or twice per year compared to five heavy services per year for a diesel truck).

            A couple more points though. That difference between the yearly diesel cost $130k and the charging cost $37.5k is such a game changer, which would so drastically reduce the cost of freight for the entire country (if all 600,000 trucks in Australia made the switch) that the government should give a rebate for solar trailers – paying for the extra bonus that solar provides – to encourage the switch. Because buyers do love free bonuses. The government could easily justify the subsidy in that such cheaper freight makes Australia far more cost competitive internationally speaking.

            Secondly (in argument for the proposed rebate) all of that truck charging is going to put more strain on the electricity grid. If solar trailers can reduce the charging time by say 20 minutes per charge on average, that will not only help with truck turnaround (where time is also a cost) but also reduce network and electricity generation infrastructure costs. Solar is getting ever cheaper and the manufacturing installation process is ever more efficient, so the rebate cost to the budget would decline per unit year on year.

            Thirdly, there could be a market for peer-to-peer charging. Think of an electric truck A with a low charge pulling up next to solar truck B which has a full charge, and A getting a 100km booster charge from B who can spare it. Solar trucks could slingshot each other over longer distances in this way without the need to overbuild charging stations. Just a thought.

          • Matthew Jenkinson 3 years ago

            Now that’s some good arguments. I think the rebate idea would be fantastic, as the overall cost would be relatively low but the benefits would be humongous. It would easily pay for itself long term.

            The grid thing is a somewhat valid point, with some caveats. If we stop refining diesel, then that is a metric crap tonne of extra power available for EV’s. It won’t cover the entire requirement, but will make a significant dent. Producing power with wind/solar at the point would be better, backed up with some storage, but I truly think it’s not as bad as some believe. The biggest problem is the EV’s that need to charge quickly to continue their journey – that’s up to say 300kW for a car, or 1.6mW for a Tesla truck. That’s a fat pipe, and I think can only realistically (especially in the truck example) be done with storage onsite.

            For all the rest, truckers have to sleep like everyone else, so truck stops with a small cheap destination charger per parking stall would charge the trucks overnight, as well as running all the onboard facilities in the case of a sleeper cab. That pipe doesn’t have to be as fat, because it has 8-10 hours.

            I do like the peer-to-peer charging idea though, would be difficult to do without some sort of app support, but could perhaps do something like that alongside routing for convoys – trucks enter their route at the start of the journey, the software can match trucks travelling the same route at the same time and notify the drivers, they go into convoy for part of the journey and share the wind.
            Similarly, you could have the driver say they’re going to need power at point x, or the software recognise that there is no suitable megacharger on route, again the software could match you with someone who has more than enough power for their journey, notify the drivers and allow them to contact each other and hook up. Could even build some billing code into it. Incentive is that the truck selling power gets more than they paid, and the one buying it gets power they need at a decent price. Could do the same for cars.

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            Yes peer-to-peer charging would need a decent algorithm and an app for the interface.

            Mainly my point is around the rebate. Like it or not, deny it or not, government is the most powerful enactor of change. Those in power can sway funds to feasible renewable energy or they can sway funds away from it, depending on their perception of the future vote. But the inevitable trend now is that if they don’t do the former, then their own flabby old white arses will be served up to their very own selves as toast on a fucking platter! Forgotten to history, as we pursue progress and sensible things.

  2. Joe 3 years ago

    Just wondering if the Elon’s semi is loaded up with those ‘on order’ Powerwall 2.0 that are to be installed in Aussie homes.

    • Miles Harding 3 years ago

      No,No, they’re under the floor!!

      Domestic Poweralls seem to have been out-prioritised by other big batteries (I believe the one in SA uses LG cells) and the likes of storm recovery in the Dominican Republic.

      • Matthew Jenkinson 3 years ago

        SA one uses Samsung cells. Just FYI.

        But yeah, it seems that a few events have outpaced production capacity, might take a bit to get orders back under control.

  3. aussiearnie 3 years ago

    The beginning of the end of the diesel rebate?

  4. DJR96 3 years ago

    This (and electric cars) will question why we persisted with fossil fuel powered vehicles for so long. It makes them look plain stupid.

    • stucrmnx120fshwf 3 years ago

      With an 800 km range, half hour charging, a million kms before major maintenance, people in the future, will wonder why we didn’t shift, our capital and research to electric vehicles earlier. And the noise reduction, we’re all sick and tired of the diesel fumes, but trucks make so much noise, thumping, building penetrating, low frequency noise, the air brakes are even worse.

      • daroiD8ungais7 3 years ago

        “a million kms before major maintenance” Where did you pull that from?!

        • stucrmnx120fshwf 3 years ago

          The article said that the trucks would last for a million kilometers, I assume that means just parts replacement, using electronic and sheduled maintenance. Electric cars are much the same, electric vehicles require 1/10 th, of the maintenance of explosion based vehicles, even an explosion based vehicle, would only require, in a new vehicle, major maintenance every 100,000 kms. This is why the resale value on electric vehicles, is so much higher, they’re not wrecked in a decade, if you use them a lot, they have 25 times less moving parts, with a tiny fraction of the vibration. Lots of moving parts, with hammering (literally, we’re talking about millions, of detonations a year, in the cylinders,) vibration, is a recipe for expensive maintenance.

          • daroiD8ungais7 3 years ago

            You make some good points about the explosion based vehicle.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf 3 years ago

            The downside is that mechanics jobs, like driver jobs, with self driving vehicles go, in Tony Seba’s Clean Disruption scenario, we have a roaring twenties, replacing the vehicles. Installing solar panels, building high rise farms, but what happens when market saturation hits, the jobs for production and construction go. Mechanics, Drivers out of a job, high rise farms capital intensive, robotics and software, artificial intelligence, that’s where the Grand Depression comes into the picture. So we better have instituted basic minimum income, economic depressions are so little fun, that they’re said, to be the reason for the last World War.

          • Daniel 3 years ago

            Your right about the jobs. In the end clean tech is improving the efficiency of the economy with the end of oil/coal/gas industry, while replacing it with renewable that last decades that use no fuel.

            Driverless cars and trucks will mean millions more will be out of work with almost no replacement industry. Who knows how long, but it will happen. On top of this we have machine learning attempting to automate most of the service industry….

            I hope some smart economists are working on this….

          • stucrmnx120fshwf 3 years ago

            The capital phase, roaring twenties, will be big, sovereign wealth management, like Norway. A basic minimum income, with means testing, would put a floor, a safety net on consumer spending. Not a big stretch, it replaces, pensions, unemployment benefits, disability benefits. Minimum taxes that cannot be cheated, sorry minimised, through highly paid tax lawyers. It would be easy, in 2030 I think, we could have 25 times, as much energy available, as we now have. Due to cheap solar power, when the replacement electric vehicles, have all been bought. The high rise farming buildings, have been built, the solid state photovoltaic systems, batteries, hydro electric storage, liquid hydrogen.

            Then we need to deploy those resources, to the majority of the population, with cheap power, food and transport. Reverse taxes, in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s 2000’s and 2010, have prevented the Grand Depression so far, with unemployment benefits, disability benefits, pensions. We haven’t let the oil dependency, 45 year great stagnation, in the developed world tear us to pieces.

            So a surge of capital, followed by market saturation, doesn’t need to destroy us. We could also defray market saturation, with an age of exploration, in space, with vast solar power and resources.

      • Carl Raymond S 3 years ago

        Needed cheap lithium ion cells, and cheap solar/wind (the numbers are based on the trucks charging at 7c/kWh). The tipping point has only just been crossed.

      • My_Oath 3 years ago

        “a million kms before major maintenance,”

        No – Its a million without a complete breakdown – and that is defined as ‘sitting on the side of the road with at least 3 of the 4 electric motors out of service’.

        They still need maintenance.

        • stucrmnx120fshwf 3 years ago

          I said major maintenance, if you did no maintenance at all, I bet it would break down, at 100,000 kms. But doing regular and indicated by sensor maintenance, it would last for a million kilometres, before being unwise to continue, without major maintenance. Replacement electric motors, batteries, drive trains, where it might not be worth, the money.

          • My_Oath 3 years ago

            I know what you said, and it doesn’t align with what Tesla said. They do not say ‘a million miles before major maintenance’. The only mention of that distance is with respect to breakdown.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf 3 years ago

            Whatever, an electric vehicle, requires 1/10the of the maintenance of an internal combustion engine, or explosive propulsion based system. A million kilometres is a long distance, people have restored cars, that have done huge distances, by doing major maintenance. A vehicle can last forever I’d you keep on replacing the parts, including the body. Not bothered about the semantics, but the resale on an electric vehicle, is far higher, because it wears out vastly more slowly.

          • My_Oath 3 years ago

            Apology accepted.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf 3 years ago

            Sorry for my sinning padre, how could I do such a thing, not reflexively agreeing with you.

          • My_Oath 3 years ago

            Not reflexively agreeing with me wasn’t the issue. It was making a mistake, then upon having it pointed out doubling down before finally attempting to divert it with a flippant ‘whatever’.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf 3 years ago

            Minor, normal and major are different words, in relation to maintenance, my dearest pedantic, major doesn’t actually mean minor, most people understand this.

          • My_Oath 3 years ago

            ‘Breakdown’ and ‘maintenance’ are different words too, which is the actual issue here, not your obfuscated attempts to talk about major and minor.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf 3 years ago

            Do people often tell you to stop talking, this is very boring, I’m actually interested in Clean Disruption, Electric Vehicles, Solar Power, not your problems with language, so is everyone else on this site. Aren’t you interested in aircraft using liquid hydrogen, concentrated cooled high and low frequency solar power at 40% efficiency, do you actually know anything about renewables. High Speed Railways, Space X’s Falcon Heavy, anything to do with the future, infrastructure, self driving vehicles, what are you a spell checker, a grammar checker, there’s more to life. Go and read Tony Seba’s Clean Disruption, think about how 1/4 of Australia’s desert, can make a trillion tonnes of liquid hydrogen, from solar power. Think about how the last roaring twenties were, the second industrial revolution, in the context of the third industrial revolution.

            Don’t reply unless you have something interesting to say, this is a waste of my time and everyone else’s, on this site.

    • Brunel 3 years ago

      Even electric cars are not saintly. Far better to build cycleways. Look how fat people are these days.

      • mick 3 years ago

        brisbane to sydney would be a loong ride

        • Brunel 3 years ago

          You could have something almost as ridiculous: Can not carry a shipping container on a bicycle. Because every car carries cargo?

          And everyone drives from one state to another 5 days per week?

          • mick 3 years ago

            true,yep humans and parcel and fair enough

      • Matthew Jenkinson 3 years ago

        This is my argument, electric cars don’t remove the too many cars issue, just the pollution from them. I mean, that shouldn’t stop us from making EV’s, but ideally we should build infrastructure in our cities that would make an eBike more attractive as a second vehicle for a two vehicle household.

        I have a non e-bike as my second vehicle (and third), but have been considering getting a cargo e-bike to do the short trips to daycare and the shops when we don’t need the cargo space and aren’t doing 50km round trip. Would certainly save a lot of fuel, and probably time.

  5. Steve159 3 years ago

    live stream — 500 miles range, at highway speed 65 mph, at full GVW (maximum load). As Musk says, that’s the worst case scenario

    65mph up a 5% grade, versus diesel at 45mph max..

    0-60mph fully loaded 20 seconds.
    0-60mph rig only 5 seconds


    • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

      It calls for a remake of the classic – Smokey And The eBandit.

      • Michael Murray 3 years ago

        Or Duel.

    • Steven Gannon 3 years ago

      Long range trucks in Oz are B-doubles or high tonnage. To get market share here we need bigger power units in these trucks for long hauls. Trucks doing the Hume, Pacific or Newell highways will get a few km’s further down the road before each rest stop with the extra torque, another efficiency gain. Drivers will be less fatigued too.

  6. William 3 years ago

    Nice one Tesla.

    Wonder what the Road Authority would charge in additional registration fees to offset the fuel excise that would be forgone.

    • Steve Woots 3 years ago

      most sensibly, a weight/distance charge.
      Given that a portion of the diesel cost would have been going overseas, and can now go to a local electricity generator – interesting to see how much better for the economy that is.

      • stucrmnx120fshwf 3 years ago

        The taxes are necessary, due to the road vibration damage, that diesel (explosion based, air braking,) engines do to the asphalt, roads are massively subsidized by governments, compared to rail, hence the increasing use of Tolls.

        • Steve Woots 3 years ago

          No question, they should pay their share. I’m not sure how much damage is due to the diesel engine vs the weight of the vehicle. We can but wait and see if someone will do a comparison.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf 3 years ago

            Even though there’s 18 wide wheels, to distribute the load, 36 tonnes is a lot of load, over the surface, half a tonne per wheel, still the low frequency, penetrating, earthquake like vibration, of a tonne of diesel engine, might do a lot of damage.

    • MaxG 3 years ago

      It’s the next thing the LNP will come up with…

  7. Ryan 3 years ago

    How can it do 400kmph? Surely a misprint?

    • Richard T 3 years ago

      Thats the roadster. This article confuses some of the roadster specs with the truck specs. I think the following comment is about the roadster not the truck…*It will have a 200kWh battery pack. “The point of doing this is to give a hardcore smackdown to internal combustion cars,” Musk said.

      • Ryan 3 years ago

        Thanks. Still seems rather fast even for a car. Not sure that 400kmh top speed would be very usable for most people.

        • Chris Marshalk 3 years ago

          For me, It’s usable getting away from the cops. 😉

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            Yeah until the cops start using them too…

        • stucrmnx120fshwf 3 years ago

          People have asked for acceleration limiters, hence the smooth ride feature, recently offered, I once heard of a German aluminum car (Tesla’s cars, are made of aluminum,) that could do 400 kms/h, but where else than an autobarn could you drive it. A car crash, would be like a plane crash.

          • Tom 3 years ago

            Or like a train crash in Germany or Japan.

    • Miles Harding 3 years ago

      Confusion here??
      What they probably meant was that a MegaCharger could add 400km of range every hour. (i.e. a charging rate of 400km/h)

  8. JohnM 3 years ago

    Never mind the semi, -check the new roadster!
    0-100 in 1,9 secs, 1,000 km range 250+ mph.
    Looks nice too…. just a bit sexy.

  9. Ian 3 years ago

    Next we need to see a Tesla container ship.

    • Matthew Jenkinson 3 years ago

      Not sure about this one. At this scale, hydrogen may make more sense, especially if we can make it with the excess renewables generation capacity that isn’t always being used… it will essentially be free to make in this case, and so very low cost for shipping. This is an energy density issue, and so very energy dense batteries will likely kill hydrogen as a fuel source completely, even in large container ships and possibly airplanes.

      This is what the Orkney Islands is trying to do with their ferry to the mainland.

  10. brucelee 3 years ago

    200kwh listed in your article was the roadster not the truck wasn’t it?

    • Tom 3 years ago

      The article said “under 2kWh per mile” and “a range of 500 miles” – that sounds like it needs around (under) 1000kWh of battery. 200kWh is only 0.4kWh/mile, and this doesn’t sound right.

      • Miles Harding 3 years ago

        That’s what I estimated. Would also explain why he is calling the new chargers ‘Mega chargers’ – more than 1MW.

    • Miles Harding 3 years ago


  11. Robert Comerford 3 years ago

    A small point not really mentioned. By putting the driver in the centre they have made a truck suitable for both left and right hand drive roads.

  12. Alex 3 years ago

    There is one huge benefit with the electrification of the transport industry that doesn’t seem to have been taken up politically, and that is independence from Middle Eastern oil suppliers. Presently, if an unnamed eastern power wanted to paralyse Australia they could block oil from the ME and we would be effectively screwed within weeks. With solar grids and electric vehicles, this wouldn’t be an issue. And our reasons for having wars over there, and encouraging terrorism, would disappear.

    • Ana Thema 3 years ago

      So much this.

    • Matthew Jenkinson 3 years ago

      This to me is the largest secondary benefit of electrification. Not to mention that if a fleet has a somewhat stable set of routes that they can electrify themselves, it will be even cheaper than relying on external infrastructure, and avoid situations where they don’t have access to fuel or improve productivity by not having to wait for charging.

  13. Radbug 3 years ago

    Newton’s First Law: (almost) all the energy is expended getting the object up to cruising speed. That’s the reason for the massive battery pack. Which plays right into rail’s strong suit. All rail needs is a length of third rail. The battery pack is trackside, as is the supercapacitor & PV array that energises it. The rolling resistance is overcome by an alkaline fuel cell stack (featuring a layered double hydroxide, high pH resistant, anion exchange membrane), fuelled by an onboard tank of methanol.

    • Ian 3 years ago

      Rail’s big issue is drag from wind turbulence. 25% drag reduction can be achieved by streamilining a truck like is shown in the picture. A large percentage is due to underbody, wheel and side turbulence along the truck and between trailers. This can easily be addressed on a train.

      Earlier this year Energex requested submissions/comments regarding another interconnector from SA. One idea that was put forward for consideration was to follow the rail line from Crystal Brook/Pt Augusta through to the interconnection point near Canberra. That would then allow the electrification of that line and the connection of multiple solar and wind facilities. Likewise the inland rail route could do the same. I haven’t heard anything more on the subject.

      Imagine what an electrified line to Perth could achieve!

    • Matthew Jenkinson 3 years ago

      Yeah, that ignores aerodynamic drag, which is a big deal at 100km/h. Hell, I’m a cyclist, and it’s a big deal at 35+. If I duck in relatively close to a car (not dangerously, but close enough) I can maintain 50kph for quite a while, but without the windbreak it’s a couple of minutes.

  14. Phil 3 years ago

    I see lot’s of disruption and “value adds” here
    These are just a few …….

    1) The trailers attached to the Semi can accommodate solar panels on the roof to extend the driving range.

    2) Tesla can control the prices of their charging stations offering fixed priced contracts to ANY size fleet anywhere

    3) Tesla can turn presently unused warehouse roof space into solar supercharging stations. Charge up while you unload and load

    • stucrmnx120fshwf 3 years ago

      Maybe that’s why Walmart have ordered 15 of them already, their roof surface area and freight demand, would be huge.

    • George Darroch 3 years ago

      The solar panels would be energy and cost negative. They don’t make sense on this vehicle.

    • My_Oath 3 years ago

      “1) The trailers attached to the Semi can accommodate solar panels on the roof to extend the driving range.”

      Extend the driving range by about 500 metres perhaps – because physics. The sun only shines so hard. The solar panels only covert a % of that sunlight. And flat panels that are not orientated perpendicular to the sun convert even less.

      • Paul Andrew 3 years ago

        didn’t it say ~2kwh/km? how much could a trailer generate? I’d say it’d help a fair bit obviously during different conditions but still a nice benefit

        • Matthew Jenkinson 3 years ago

          Think about it. Say you could put 6kW on the trailer. Now assuming you always drove in the sun, it might give you ~20km extra range per day. The problem with trucks is that they are not stationary…

          Don’t get me wrong, I’m very pro electric truck, but Solar doesn’t have the density required to make power ON the truck work.

  15. Steven Gannon 3 years ago

    15 Tonne is good, that’ll cover a good % but getting to B-double level means turning out units that can pull up to triple these babies. In Australia we will need electric B-doubles before long that use purposefully developed auto-pilot for our inland roads, or maybe electric cargo trains to get more trucks off the road for some highways.

    If the saving is ~20%/km, they’ll appear fairly fast.

    • stucrmnx120fshwf 3 years ago

      The article said 36 tons and that’s with the ability to go up hills, on the flat of the Nullabor Plains, that’d be a lot more, but your right, multiple drive trains, like an electric railway train, distributes the forces better. Out in the desert, land is cheap and there’s little cloudy weather, for solar panels and megachargers.

      • mick 3 years ago

        i haven’t noticed many singles on the nullabor probably more economic to use doubles and triples

        • Miles Harding 3 years ago

          Better still would be to rail it across or not send it at all.

          A few years back there was an amusing story around a flood that cut the highway. There were trucks of apples going east and west stopped by the flood. Perhaps it wasn’t necessary to send any apples across.

          • mick 3 years ago

            ive seen oranges go from wa wheatbelt to riverina 3 months ago go figure? 20 years ago it was cheaper to throw 44s in the ute and drive to adelaide- tarcoola return than to use the rail

      • Steven Gannon 3 years ago

        Hi, I’m not too embarrassed to admit I have ADD, which sometimes does lead to embarrassing situations. The inland trucks can go electric for sure in that case.

    • Phil 3 years ago

      If they are using 4 X series 3 motors that’s Approx 4 x 258hp (or 4 x 192kw ) Over 1000 HP. TOTAL And should be around 1000 pounds of torque per motor

      That torque is low. But i think because there are 4 motors you can multiply by 4 to compare with 1 diesel motor for torque same as horsepower total.

      That is far more than ANY prime mover made today i am aware of.

      And that would confirm their claims of being able to do 65 MPH up a 5% gradient . Whereas the most powerful semi truck can only do 45 mph today.

      Also being direct drive motors to each wheel they may be able to put more power as traction down onto the road in less than ideal grip weather or surface.

      There are also NO LOSSES through the differentials and gearboxes as heat and noise a normal truck has.This is a MASSIVE saving

      And no more inconsiderate drivers using exhaust brakes through residential areas. Or noisy poorly serviced exhausts.

      • Steven Gannon 3 years ago

        Thanks. Occasionally I miss the bleeding obvious sometimes due to ADD unfortunately. That’s why I limit my comments somewhat.

  16. Carl Raymond S 3 years ago

    The cost comparison with diesel is based on 7c/kWh energy. Who other than Tesla can offer that? Trucking companies now need to be solar and battery storage companies too, if they are to compete. The semi is the story of the decade, and I’m yet to see it on the evening news.

    • Matthew Jenkinson 3 years ago

      7c/kWh USD, so about 9c AUD. I did a costing the other day for battery and solar at home, and for a 5-6kw system with battery, 15 year lifespan, would be about 10c/kWh LCOE. That’s for a single dwelling scale.

  17. Miles Harding 3 years ago

    What was funny was Daimler’s attempts to steal the show with their own truck announcment.
    The Daimler is a really feeble effort by comparison.

  18. Michael Murray 3 years ago

    Platooning. Driver in lead truck with following driverless trucks.


    “Land sakes, looks like we got us a convoy …”

    • My_Oath 3 years ago

      We already have that. They are called ‘Road Trains’.

      • Matthew Jenkinson 3 years ago

        Yeah, I actually think the electric tractor would make even more sense from a road train perspective, assuming that the infrastructure can cover where these guys usually operate, ie. the middle of nowhere.

        • My_Oath 3 years ago

          Yep – Road trains are better than platooning in most cases.

          I can see an advantage for platooning in that trucks heading to different destinations could possibly platoon for the part of their journey that coincides. (But then there might be an issue in that Truck 1 is doing most of the work and using the most power.)

          I live in a locale that has a lot of road trains – it is incredibly rare to see a single trailer configuration. Most goods are transported in B-Doubles. Explosives in B Double. Chemicals, livestock and other products in triples and ore haulage is done with quad trailers.

          The vast majority of those cases involve returning to a depot overnight, so the rollout of chargers would definitely be on the cards.

          • Matthew Jenkinson 3 years ago

            I had the same thought with platooning, onboard computers could analyse the route, hook up with other trucks for parts of it, and even work out the shared portion so they could swap and share the wind. If you ever watch bicycle racing, especially at the top end, they will do essentially this when a few guys make a break off the front, rotating through ana sharing the wind. Even competitors do it, if they can stay away from the main peleton then they increase their chances of a win to 1 in 5 or so.

            In this way they can average 50kph for a couple of hours on good roads.

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