Why the Tesla truck will turn freight industry upside down

Why the Tesla truck will turn freight industry upside down

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Elon Musk prepares to unveil Tesla’s next big thing – the all electric truck. Analysts expect it to be the biggest thing in the trucking industry for decades, and will slash transport costs.

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Tesla Truck
Artistic rendering of the Tesla-inspired Nikola truck, announced last week.

Elon Musk has a busy month in front of him, as he usually does. This Friday, he will address a space industry conference in Adelaide about his plans for human life on Mars, and then is widely expected to deliver some major news on the Tesla big battery at the Hornsdale wind farm later that evening.

A month later, Musk will unveil the latest of his technology developments that promises to turn an existing industry upside down – the Tesla Semi, a very big and very powerful electric truck.

It promises to do to the road freight industry what the Model S, 3 and X will do 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.

elon musk tesla truck.

The Tesla Semi is scheduled to be released on October 26.  Musk describes it as a “beast” of a vehicle. “It’s unreal,” he tweeted a few weeks back.

Investment banking analysts are already excited, describing the release as “the biggest catalyst in trucking in decades”, in the case of Morgan Stanley, while Deutsche Bank says the release promises to more disruptive than anyone expects, and more quickly.

The chief reason for this is cost. Because Tesla is likely to use several stock electric motors from the Model 3, and several stock battery packs, the Class 8 truck could come in at between $US200,00 to $US240,000 for low and high range versions.

The significance of this number is the “payback” time for US truck fleet operators, via the savings on fuel and maintenance costs. Deutsche Bank estimates it will be less than three years, and will be less than 2 years by the very early 2020’s, which fits nicely into the “sweet spot” of fleet owners’ preferred 18-24 month payback period.

A short driving range (200-300 miles) could be seen as a constraint, but many trucks drive less than that per day, and their operations are well suited for charging/battery swap.

And Tesla’s driving range will beat the 100 miles currently achieved by rivals Daimler and Cummins. Some suggest the Tesla truck range could be as high as 400 miles, and may use interchangeable batteries.

The next stage of the development could be more problematic – driverless trucks. Deutsche Bank estimates the “level 5” automation costs would add $US23,000 to the cost of the vehicle (falling to $US5,000) over time, compared to a driver’s annual salary of $US45,000.

That promises yet more savings, but automation faces potential push back from regulation and unions. But Deutsche Bank still sees it as “inevitable”. They expect to see “platooning”, where numerous trucks follow each other in a kind of convoy, as early as 2020.

Morgan Stanley recently said it expects the electric truck could be 70 per cent cheaper to operate than a diesel-powered truck, and Electrek recently published these quotes from Musk suggesting it will be more powerful too.

“It is a heavy duty, long range, semi-truck. So it has the highest weight capability and with long range. So essentially it’s meant to alleviate the heavy duty trucking loads. And this is something which people do not, today, think is possible.

“They think the truck doesn’t have enough power or it doesn’t have enough range. And then with those with the Tesla semi we want to show that no, an electric truck actually can out-torque any diesel semi and if you had a tug-of-war competition, the Tesla semi what will tug the diesel semi uphill.”

The Tesla truck is likely to come into full scale production within 18-24 months, but while Tesla will be providing the batteries and drive trains, the cabs and other equipment will be contracted out to others. Tesla is said to be seeking 20 per cent of a market they currently have no interest in.

(Note: Picture caption has been updated to clarify what the photo represents).

You can also listen to our recent Solar Insiders podcast discussing Australian battery storage, and the challenges created by a shortfall in supply of Tesla PowerWalls.

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  1. Chris Schneider 3 years ago

    2020 for Platooning? Nope, Tesla have already applied to be allowed to do it and been approved! It’s a really simple process compared to even Auto Pilot which is basically Platooning without the other cars! Level 5 by 2020 I can believe. $23,000 again nope! The model S already has the equipment as an option for a LOT less!

    • Marka 3 years ago

      even @ $23K that only 10% of the total coat and has a pay back of 6 months (compared to driver wages) lets not forget a driver less truck wouldn’t have to worry about every stopping for rest breaks

      • Chris Schneider 3 years ago

        rest breaks are not really a problem with a truck that does 400 miles on a charge. It will be a no brainier honestly. Tesla have proven that their pricing is not based on the benefit to the custom but on the cost of the Tech. It will be the same tech as a car just with a little different set up. Can’t see them adding $20,000 because they can.

  2. Tom 3 years ago

    Forget autopilot – battery powered trucks are BIG news.

    They make much more sense than battery powered cars – especially down here in Tassie where Burnie to Hobart is about as far as trucks go in a trip – 350km.

    Compared with cars:
    – Trucks are heavier – they can carry a few tonnes of battery without affecting their dynamics and performance as much.
    – Trucks stop at fewer places – the depot, their customers’ loading docks, and they tend to stop for longer while they load/ unload. It would be relatively easy to install charging points at these places.
    – Trucks are heavier (again) – more efficient braking regeneration.
    – Trucks need torque – electricity provides that in spades.
    – Trucks drive further – quicker to make back any additional purchase costs in diesel savings.
    – Trucks hate down time – electricity has quicker servicing and fewer things to go wrong.

    Tassie uses about 20% more diesel than petrol. Some is for cars, but most would be for freight.

    I reckon OPEC would be packing their pants right now.

    • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

      I’d think so, especially since it helps Tassie’s balance of trade figures: you basically are exporting some of your RE as freight, instead of importing fuel at a cost!

    • Mark Potochnik 3 years ago

      We have trucks AND autopilot and the longest range cars and for now trucks…

    • Ian 3 years ago

      Tasmania is the perfect test bed for all sorts of EV. It’s small and insular and range should not be a huge anxiety. It has plenty of renewables and potentially plenty more wind resource with significant demand restraints. If it promotes itself as a model of electric vehicle transportation it could attract federal financial support without promoting jealousy in other states. By not importing liquid fuels it would not be haemorrhaging this wealth out of the state. This has got to be a good thing for a place separated in so many ways from the mainland.

    • nakedChimp 3 years ago

      Yeah, I wonder how much he’s worth as target on the black market..

    • THar 3 years ago

      Yes and no. the size and torque are a plus, but the benefit of an electric car is, that when you get it home, you can plug it in and charge. most people do round trips, trucks will sometimes spend days out without going to a depot, and i doubt any company would voluntarily start putting in charging stations at there warehouses.

      I can see it taking off big for companies like UPS or depot to depot within the same company, but general haulage and trucking or depot to end user? i don’t see much hope there (yet)

      • Tom 3 years ago

        “I doubt any company would voluntarily start putting in charging stations into their warehouses”. True, but that’s where the electricity companies (which in Tassie are mostly state-owned) come in.

        What’s in it for the electricity companies? 1) More energy sales. 2) Broader economic benefits, which as a government-owned entity they should be allowed to consider. Tassie’s GSP is about $25 billion pa, and we have over $1 billion pa leaving our state to pay for petrol and diesel. Imagine if this could be retained in our own economy?

        Someone from Hydro/ Tasnetworks/ Aurora might have to pick up the phone and actually talk to people, or even knock on doors and meet people. They need to work with trucking companies, get to understand their businesses, and also work with their customers to get the charging infrastructure installed.

        • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

          Tom – it’s not just stopping imports of fuel which is benefit enough, economically and environmentally. Freight is a way of exporting Tassie energy, where goods are exported, and a way of paying for more RE where goods are imported

        • Miles Harding 3 years ago

          Those chargers greatly reduce fuel costs and can be powered from the warehouse roof. I expect this will make immediate and compelling sense.

          Is the roof structure up to it?

      • Miles Harding 3 years ago

        Yes and no definitely.

        It will need a gearbox. Cars and bikes are able to operate with a single ratio for the entire envelope because of their low weight. The additional dynamic range needed in the motor is offset by the simplicity of a single ratio.

        A 20+ tonne truck is a different matter, the low speed torque requirement is enormous, which explains why trucks have up to 18 speed gearboxes.
        The wider range of the electric motor will likely require only 3 or 4 ratios for the same truck. This also allows early downshifting to better recover kinetic energy.

        Another issue for electric trucks is the high continuous power requirement. Despite having more than enough peak power, a Model S (induction) or Model 3 (Permanent Magnet) drive probably can’t be used without significant modification.

        It will be interesting to see how tesla solves this.

        • Barri Mundee 3 years ago

          Please set me straight if I am wrong but electric trains do not have gearboxes do they? Melbourne suburban trains seem to have massive torque and gather speed very quickly even pulling 5 or 6 carriages. But that may be due to several motors?

          • Miles Harding 3 years ago

            No, but they have very big motors.
            Freight rail can only accelerate at about 0.01g (or less) with a string of wagons and a suburban passenger train, about 0.08g.

            The problem comes when the truck encounters a grade.

            Typical highway grades are limited to about 3% so a 600HP rig (big motor) can drive these at 100kph. Ok for a single ratio, but what about an escarpment climb or a steep suburban roads. Here, gradeability of 20% may be needed, which is outside a reasonable motor size – hence gearing to allow the motor to provide sufficient axle torque for climb or descend the grade, albeit at slower speed.

        • BushAxe 3 years ago

          Locomotives with electric drives are reduction gear only, the torque from the latest AC traction motors is phenomenal especially at low speed.

          • Miles Harding 3 years ago

            The AC drives in suburban trains are designed for the specific duty. We tried this some some time back in Perth. The Mandurah-Butler trains operate at up to 130kph, with stations approximately 10km apart.

            The same car set on the Armadale line, max speed 90kph and stations approximately 3km apart was unable to stop at more than about 10 stations before the motor max temperature was exceeded. The train would need another motor unit to serve this duty and at about $500K per drive unit this wasn’t considered necessary.

            On freight trains, there are very specific current and time limits. It is possible to spin the wheels on a 200 tonne loco, but this level of torque can only be maintained for about 30 seconds before it must be reduced to prevent damage to the motors, drives and rectifier.

          • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

            Very interesting Miles – is it a cooling limit on windings (insulation temperature rise limit)? What type of cooling do they have?

          • Miles Harding 3 years ago

            That is my understanding, but I think the feedback was a red light on the driver’s console. I’d have to ask somebody in the traction section for details and exactly what happened.

            I think they are one of these, the 1200 (my memory) or 1500 types :

            These are the train car sets in question:
            (I recall there are 3 driven bogies and looks like wikipeda got the number of doors and number of motors confused)


        • Marshall Gill 3 years ago

          Gagillions and gagillions of taxpayer dollars, how else?

          • Miles Harding 3 years ago

            No taxpayer dollars needed. It makes good business sense.

          • Marshall Gill 3 years ago

            Elon Musk doesn’t operate without tax dollars. Every Tesla sold costs the taxpayer. Space X is nothing more than an attempt to get on the government space tit. The tunneling? Does he think that individuals are going to invest or does he plan on getting billions out of the taxpayer?

            “Good business sense”? It may be good business to rape the taxpayer but it still remains theft. It remains bizarre that those who are being fleeced are writing posts about how “cool” it is. Government bending over the taxpayer to make a billionaire even more rich is the exact opposite of “cool”.

          • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

            Yawn…one day the “everyone is ripping off the poor taxpayer” trolls will come up with something original…

          • Marshall Gill 3 years ago

            Spoken like a true parasite.

          • MikeH 3 years ago

            You really are a clueless and abusive troll.

          • Marshall Gill 3 years ago

            Considering the source that can only be taken as a compliment.

          • Steve159 3 years ago

            “Takes one to know one” – personally I wouldn’t know what a “true parasite” speaks like. I grant you, you do, though.

          • MikeH 3 years ago

            The main source of these claims about Musk is a pro Trump propaganda group. The following article puts the claims into some perspective but most readers here would already be aware that the largest subsidy in the history of humanity is allowing fossil fuel companies to pump CO2 & other pollution into the atmosphere free of charge.


          • Marshall Gill 3 years ago


          • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

            “rape the taxpayer” comment betrays your motivation, Marshall.

          • Marshall Gill 3 years ago

            You mean my motivation that bureaucrats not transfer my wealth to someone already rich? As opposed to those who are motivated to take other people’s money?

        • Matthew Geier 3 years ago

          Electric motors have huge low end torque, so they can usually get away for designing for the top desired speed and leave the low end to sort it self out due to the torque available at the low RPM end.

          It’s different from an ICE where the full torque is only available in a narrow RPM band, so you need to keep changing the gear ratio.

          I don’t know about the US (or even Tasmania), but I can’t see owner-drivers who really don’t know where the next job is coming from ‘flocking’ to Tesla electric trucks. ‘Range Anxiety’ will be extreme. They won’t know from one job to the next if they can plug their truck into charge. They have to turn down work because they know the can’t make the distance or time to recharge. Time off the road charging is time they can’t earn money.

          Fleet buyers who have well defined routes will love em, but I gather most of the long haul in Australia are owner drivers who pull trailer on a job by job basis. I can’t see them ‘flocking’ to electric trucks.

          If the fleets love the Tesla trucks, and start buying their own trucks and hiring drivers, instead of just contracting an owner/driver to move their trailer/container, it’s the owner drivers that will cop it – little guys who run on the smell of diesel and have large mortgages on their trucks.

      • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

        If you cant see it you probably also wonder why there are so many petrol stations and bowsers on our highways.

      • Mike Shackleton 3 years ago

        With the ubiquity of hydro power assets within Tasmania, you could locate a battery swap point next to every hydro facility or substation. Easy point of interconnect with the grid and nobody would need to build their own charging infrastructure. If you look at the render of the truck it looks like the grey bit behind the cabin could be the battery. Truck drives in under a gantry, crane picks up the battery, drops it on a charging point, picks up a charged unit and puts it back on the truck. 5 minute automated operation.

    • Vincent Kinney 3 years ago

      What is Tassie? Sorry. Is it Tasmania? I’ve never seen the word Tassie, just guessing from context.

      • Tom 3 years ago

        Yes – Tasmania

      • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

        ‘Map of Tassie’ might ring a bell? (though probably not these days haha)

  3. Mark Potochnik 3 years ago

    Quiet trucks!
    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Soothing….
    Motor braking is much quieter then engine braking….

    • Frank Wick 3 years ago

      And no stink!

  4. vibrantage 3 years ago

    I really like this site and getting as much renewable information out to the masses is very important but please do due diligence when copy and pasting.
    The “rendered image” of the Tesla truck is the Nikola One. Not Tesla.

    • nakedChimp 3 years ago

      Says so under the image:
      “Artistic rendering of the Tesla-inspired Nikola truck, announced last week.”

      • vibrantage 3 years ago

        The caption under the image was altered after my post.
        Still it will be good competition between the Nikola and Tesla trucks. Oh the irony.

        • nakedChimp 3 years ago

          Mea culpa. Usually they leave a note behind a comment like that, that they changed the article to avoid this 🙂

          • Giles 3 years ago

            We did, see bottom of story.

          • nakedChimp 3 years ago

            Hahaha, I usually fly past the ‘fineprint’ on those.
            Well played sir 😉

  5. Bok Choy 3 years ago

    Well, at the moment US States are studying the implemation of a road use tax to offset and eventually replace taxes that are included in the retail cost of vehicle fuel.
    Currently electric vehicles avoid the tax but use the road.
    In addition Governments are exploring and in some places are experimenting with a Universal Income Plan. The basic Scheme follows this rationale: If a machine replaces 4 workers then that machine will be taxed to recover the lost income taxes that those workers would have paid on their earnings to the Government.The amount would be a base amount times the number people replaced. The monies collected by this tax on machines will be used to fund the Universal Income. This will erode much of the cost advantages of automation. But without the Universal Income Program, automated factories and driverless trucks will be producing and transporting goods that nobody will have income enough to buy. And without the road tax those electric vehicles will be slowed and suffer expensive wear and tear using poorly maintained roads.

    • nakedChimp 3 years ago

      Hehe, it will be years, maybe decades, till your last paragraph rings home with modern ‘conservatives’..

      Hardliners might never get it.

    • Miles Harding 3 years ago

      I wonder how this actually works in the US. The reason they have cheap fuel is that they have virtually no road taxes now.
      State taxes vary between 17 and 58 cents per US gallon*, the average being around 30 cents, or 4.5 to 15 cents per litre.

      I think that this is a major problem for the US and explains why the ASCE** has consistently given the road system a D- (fail) for condition and maintenance. Something like 20% of US bridges are classified as ‘structurally deficient’.

      * https://taxfoundation.org/state-gasoline-tax-rates-2017/
      **American Society of Civil Engneers

      • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

        You fingered it: it doesn’t actually work. And as long as “libertarian” delusionists hypocritically live under the taxpayer’s dime when it comes to national security and maintenance of regulated order in markets, but whinge incessantly about taxpayer dollars while enjoying tax breaks of every description, progress will be held back.

  6. Richard 3 years ago

    Tesla Semi is much bigger news than Model 3.
    Probably the most important thing to happen in transport since the invention of the internal combustion engine.
    Paves the way battery powered tractors too.
    If Tesla nails this they will need a few more GF’s to make enough batteries.
    And the order backlog will be humongous!
    Yep the oil industry will be shitting themselves over Tesla Semi. It’s a doomsday moment for them.

    • Ian 3 years ago

      Not a few more GF’s, a few hundred more GF’s. ‘fraid to say the oil industry’s stool-passing will be very slow.

      Here’s a point that may or may not have been considered: Decoupling GDP from oil consumption by the widespread uptake of electric transportation may not be all bad news for oil. Considering oil consumption in USA is about 2.5gallons a day per person, the cost of a loaf of bread or a litre of milk or a dozen eggs will always be in the same proportion as the price of fuel. Raise the price of fuel and staples will follow. Make petrol expensive then inflation will gobble up the new purchasing power of oil. However, if GDP and productivity is not at all connected to consumption of oil, then raising the price of oil will do very little to the price of other commodities and goods. The last remaining and deep deposits of oil could then still be extracted for a profit if oil becomes a niche product.

      • Richard 3 years ago

        Sure, Oil will still be needed.
        But if the demand is taken out by batteries in the transport sector then 60% of the demand disappears.
        It’s not just oil extractors that will die but large sections of the food chain Some lowest cost producers will be the only survivors, think SArabia.

        How quickly battery production can scale up is a critical issue. Tesla s Semi success will be the final catalyst to join the revolution. The scaling will happen very quickly as it will be a mega race to stake a position in the new energy future. 10 years Max!

    • Billy 3 years ago

      I completely agree. Assuming that the semi can do long-haul routes (600 mile minimum real world range at 60mph) then it will be a no-brainer for fleet operators. Semi will be a bigger deal than Model 3 for both TSLA stock and for the environment.

      • zeeper 3 years ago

        i believe they are leasing the batteries, in which case I would expect battery swaps on trucking routes so range becomes a non-issue.

        • Richard 3 years ago

          Yes, battery swap would solve any long range issues.
          Can’t wait for the reveal. This is the greatest thing Tesla will ever do imo!

    • zeeper 3 years ago

      Tesla is all in, if they build an electric trucking fleet, with infrastructure to support it (i.e., battery swaps to allow cross country autonomous electric trucks), it also supports the growth of their cars, and roof tiles, and battery stations, etc.

      Unfortunately, the US will slip behind many nations for now as Dotard Don is trying to move us back to the 50’s, and big oil. Maybe it has something to do with his deals with Putin, Exxon/Tillerson, and Rosneft.

      • Richard 3 years ago

        The US is very much leading this revolution,
        thanks to Tesla.
        Actually Trump will be a positive because he supports American manufacturing and jobs staying in the US and Tesla is a growing exporter of American product and replacer of imported products.
        Tesla ticks all the boxes.

        • Marshall Gill 3 years ago

          So you own stock or work for them? They certainly tick the “fantastically subsidized by the taxpayers” box.

          • Richard 3 years ago


      • Richard 3 years ago

        That is awesome. I notice John Deere also has a heavy duty tractor prototype.
        I guess what makes the Semi interesting is how they solve the long range issue. If it is battery swap, then this would apply to mega tractors for broad acre cropping. Farmers could instal a 200 kw solar farm in the corner of a paddock and batteries and there goes the fuel bill forever and a large chunk of maintenance costs too!

        • Tom 3 years ago

          The 3 big bills for farmers: fuel, fertiliser, and spray. In roughly equal proportions.

          • Malcolm M 3 years ago

            The broadacre tractor is one of the last pieces of machinery that will go electric. Reasons
            1. Large amounts of power required for long days, but only for short periods of the year (eg sowing 5 weeks)
            2. Multiple equipment required for different operations (large tractor for sowing, spray rig for in-crop, harvester), so multiple sets of batteries required.
            3. Insufficient grid infrastructure in rural areas for charging large equipment.
            4. Farmers are reimbursed any diesel excise for off-road use.

            However for smaller equipment such as quad bikes and side-by-sides there would be great advantages of simplicity of operation, and reduced maintenance. Small tractors may also be feasible to electrify.

          • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

            Strange things can happen when you automate: tractors need to be very large to cover the large acreages and lack of manpower, but if the machines are automated, with only remote supervision required, then they can be much smaller and modular so as to cover all the tasks required. Whether farmers supplement their solar with gensets during peak times or not will be an economic question. They may be reimbursed for diesel excise but they also pay dearly for delivery costs, with interruptions in bad weather, and risk of theft of fuel. Besides, if governments can subsidise fuel they can subsidise RE.

          • Tom 3 years ago

            @ Malcolm M – Those are all good points. Electric trucks are probably the first thing that is going to become economically viable, then cars (especially in a big city – lots of stop-starting and idling at traffic lights but only about 50-100km/day), and agricultural machinery later.

            The grid infrastructure point you make is a good point. In harvesting season, all the farmers would be charging their combine headers overnight together, and that’s a lot of power.

            A large tractor or combine harvester carries about 1000L of diesel or more. Diesel has “specific energy” of about 10kWh/litre, but at a maximum ICE efficiency of ?40% this is effectively 4000kWh of battery energy. These same machines are said to have a “power” of around 400kW, which for 4000kWh would give them 10 hours. I don’t know if they run at maximum power most of the time or not, or how long a tank of diesel usually lasts.

            I’d suggest that 2000kWh of battery would probably be ample for a farm machine for a day given the superior torque characteristics of electricity.

            As for “large amounts of power for long days, but only for a short periods of the year” – true, but they probably pump out more hours of engine-on time per year than most private cars.

            Another massive advantage of electrified headers is they don’t start fires. Often there are hot days with a north wind for a couple of days before a rainy front comes through to damage your crops, and the farmers really want to get as much crop off as they can before the rain but they can’t get out because the fire risk from the exhaust/ mufflers etc. is just too high.

            A possible farm business set-up could include:

            – 200kW single axis tracking PV array. (Could generate 2000kWh/day during harvest (after spring equinox), but less during sowing (after autumn equinox).
            – 100kW diesel back-up generator. (Re-charges batteries or machinery at night if there hasn’t been enough sun during the day, or day & night depending on cloud forecasts).
            – 2000kWh of stationary battery storage (eg, 10 PowerPack 2s).
            – Machinery designed with interchangeable batteries (much like power tools) – batteries can be moved from one machine to another with a forklift.

            At today’s prices, you’re looking at $400,000 for the solar array, $500,000 for the stationary batteries ($250/kWh); $500,000 for the mobile batteries, and a few tens of thousands for the diesel back-up. So a $1.5 million investment.

            Having said that, farm machinery with an electric engines would probably be 1/4 to 1/3 cheaper (excluding batteries, which have already been accounted for) than the ones you buy today. So that’s $200,000 off both your tractor and your combine header.

            It’s almost economical in today’s market.

            If medium-scale SAT PV falls to $1.50/watt and medium-scale utility battery storage falls to $150/kWh, then the numbers are $300,000 for the solar array and $600,000 for all your batteries, so a $1 million investment all-up. Throw in the $500,000 + in new machinery savings and it’s looking seriously economical.

            This is especially so for irrigators with their more constant pumping costs.

      • Miles Harding 3 years ago

        I’ve already gven up on that idea.

        Take wheat seeding as an example:
        A typical broad acre air seeder rig has a 20+ metre wide cultivator bar, so can seed 10 to 14 Ha per hour at a 7kph drawing speed. To do this a very big tractor is needed, about 300kW or more. Typically, these tractors run 24 hours a day and it still takes 6 weeks.

        That’s a staggering amount of energy – something like 7000 kWh per day. This sounds like a job for diesel or bio-diesel.

        There are opportunities in smaller farms, grapes and orchards, but wheat is one of the most important for food.

        • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

          I don’t think a traveling cable reel as an auxiliary running parallel to the tractor would be hard to design. The tractor could then run endlessly at whatever power level is needed, with most likely a lower level of soil compaction because multiple drive wheels (ie more than 4 doubles) could easily be employed with electric drives. If it had batteries for turning and maneuvering they would not need to be very large but simplify operations.

          • Miles Harding 3 years ago

            This probably how it would have to be done. I could envision picking the cable up on the return pass and reeling it in.

            The power level is likely to be high, due to the urgency of getting the crop into (or off) the paddock and the problems of delivering the energy 30 or more km to the paddock significant. I was thinking of locations like Mukinbudin with 400Ha paddocks, 80km North of Merredin and the Colgar wind farm.

            Likely, this would work for some types of crop and some locations.

  7. Roggan 3 years ago

    How do I invest in Tesla/SpaceX?

    • nakedChimp 3 years ago

      TSLA is on the stock market.. SpaceX is private, to keep beancounters away from killing his Mars ambitions, by demanding early profit payouts.
      The ‘money burning’ of TSLA is already a sore point for most analysts..
      If you want to participate, expect long term only (or hope for buy/sell) of the stock – but that’s not in Musks intend.
      If you have the money, buy his products.. get humankind ahead.

  8. Mansgame 3 years ago

    He can’t even make a parking lot large enough for his employees to all park without doubling up. Saying bold things is easy but he still hasn’t even delivered on the $30k car he promised to thousands of people.

    • Rich B 3 years ago

      Yes he doesn’t deliver on many things he says, but as long as he says them fast enough people will keep buying.

      • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

        Yes you nameless gits, I suppose you have a few plaques to your non-names??!

        • Miles Harding 3 years ago

          We need ‘Report’ and ‘Troll’ buttons to help weed out these cretins.

          • Michael Murray 3 years ago

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  9. Jeffrey Evans 3 years ago

    i’m just curious about the autopilot feature …does this replace the driver completely ? backing up to unload may be an issue . if the customers are going to unload their own products there may some confusion .

    • keplersthirdlaw 3 years ago

      The automated feature would make backing up a simple task. The computer would be able to maneuver and park the truck with much greater precision than a human operator could ever achieve. We (humans) use the mirrors to see where we are going. The computer will have much greater visual and sensing capability that there will be no blindspots and it doesnt have to guess where to point the nose or how tight to turn because it’s all taken care of by the processor in three dimensions.

      • Jeffrey Evans 3 years ago

        there are still the issues of opening doors and unloading the correct product …blind 90 degree alley backing will still be an issue too because of traffic .

  10. Ryan Pendrick 3 years ago

    Hey Giles, any chance you folks are hiring for an editor? This article is full of issues.

  11. Disqus 3 years ago

    Funniest thing is though – There is NO so-called “space” or “outer space” or “deep space”. It’s all just subliminal programming propaganda over many years of ones life through the Lying Lunatic Media Complex, through propaganda films via the Hollywood Propaganda Machine, and speaking of Hollywood….last but definitely the very worst culprit in this entire scam to steal people’s money through stealing their minds is: NASA….or Not A Space Agency, or Never A Straight Answer…..yes this satanically inspired government corporation (yes it’s both private & a part of the Military Industrial Complex!) Is mostly responsible for spilling out lie after lie after lie! And they have been caught time & time again faking everything – yes every single part of all that is cosmological – they have perverted it all with their dirty grubby hands. What is flat is now round, what is small and close is now gigantic and extremely far away….and on and on and on it goes with them. Once you study it all, and begin to REALLY look deep enough….you WILL see the trees for the forest I guarantee it!!

    • JohnM 3 years ago


  12. ItsBlackjack115 3 years ago


  13. Miles Harding 3 years ago

    Musk describes it as a “beast” of a vehicle. “It’s unreal,” he tweeted a few weeks back.

    I presume he’s planning a ‘ludicrous’ version. 🙂

    The Deutsche Bank probably has it wrong. Standard autopilot equipment on the model S is Level 2 and the hardware is capable of Level 3 (driver mostly not needed) and likely, Level 4 (Autonomy for the entire trip, but human intervention is needed outside the normal envelope)

    I suspect the cost is nearer $5000 than $23000, particularly as Level 5 is not needed for a typical truck route that is planned planned and repititious. Nor is it clear how much help fully automated driving for a delivery truck will be when the driver is needed to collect and deposit goods with the customers, often walking though a mall in the process. Level 3 would likely suffice here.

  14. Rich B 3 years ago

    I would like him to deliver on things he says before bragging about them.

    • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

      What like Model s and Model X upstaging Mercs and Model 3 production underway and the first houses with solar tiles and his Space X rocket repeatedly landing and the first having been reused…yeah, underachiever.

  15. Norman Lowe 3 years ago

    This is all really amazing – getting rid of the combustion engine will provide cleaner and quieter cities.

    However….electricity needs to come from somewhere. With lagging investment in next generation nuclear reactors, high reliance on gas and goal, and little practical or cost effective wind and solar large scale generation I do wonder where the increased demands on national grids from more and more electric vehicles will come from?

    Are we just going to kick the carbon can up the chain and put more demand on existing, and often polluting power stations?

    • Mike Westerman 3 years ago

      Norman you clearly are unaware of what is happening in the world of RE. There is currently a pipeline of 22GW of RE in Australia – almost enough to electrify the whole country transport system. And at costs well below any other new capacity. Note that electric transportation is about 5x more efficient that internal combustion, so altho’ the energy inputs to electricity production and transport in Australia are similar, electrification will only require a fraction of the energy.

      It will take years for electrification to be more than a decimal point in energy consumption, and by then we will have solar power coming out of our wazhoos.

      • Norman Lowe 3 years ago

        Very interesting.

        Will it be gimmick-like as in Germany’s case which has seen increased CO2 levels from moving away from nuclear (wind and solar failed to make up for the loss and didn’t counter the need for coal and gas generation methods) or will Australia include next generation molten salt reactors in it’s RE strategy – which can’t meltdown, are more cost effective than other methods, use waste for fuel and take up far less space than wind or solar?

        • Neville Bott 3 years ago

          Germany produced record 35 percent of power from renewables in first half


          The decision to close the Nuclear plants was a safety decision, based on risk vs benefit.
          The people that use this to bash renewables are just trying to denigrate Germany because of the danger this poses to the ff industry.

          This 35% is growing and will continue to grow.

          As for salt reactors there aren’t any. This means that even if the economics did work and one were built tomorrow it would take decades before enough were built to make any difference.

          • Norman Lowe 3 years ago

            And Germany produced less electricity from renewables last year because it wasn’t as sunny or windy – despite increased investment into wind and solar. They had to fall back on coal and gas and their CO2 emissions are now higher than France’s.

            Better to work on other options at the same time. The nuclear industry has suffered from luddites blocking it at every step despite the potential to power the planet for as long as the sun lasts no matter the weather or wind levels.

          • Neville Bott 3 years ago

            The nuclear industry is suffering from economics.

            The decommissioning and cleanup costs are enormous and replacement costs are far higher than renewables.

            Lookup the PPA for the Hinkley plant, this requires a price guarantee for forty years that is around double the current wholesale price.This is madness as the wholesale price of renewables is halving each few years.

            Take a closer look at France, their reactors are coming to the end of their production lives. France is planning to replace these with wind, solar and storage because this is far cheaper.

            Germany was planing to close their reactors over time due to costs, however Fukishima highlighted the dangers and potential costs and the closure times were brought forward.

            The cleanup costs of Fukishima are just ridiculous and there is just no way to insure against this type of economic catastrophe. There are still up to 5000 people working on site each day, this cleanup is expected to take forty years and requires technology that doesn’t yet exist. This will be an ongoing expense to the Japanese people for generations.

  16. Richosaki 3 years ago

    If this truck (and other battery powered vehicles such as the Prius) is/are supposed to be Environmentally friendly – can I ask what happens to the batteries and all the hazardous contents when they eventually expire?

    In reality the batteries will require changing every 5-7 years (expensive) and what is done with the hazardous scrap which remains – can it all be re-cycled?

    IMHO batteries are now a technological dead end – we are merely refining the knowledge we already have (evolution not revolution).

    I might suggest that fuel cells are more revolutionary and environmentally ‘friendly’ – if someone could develop one of these that could meet the generation requirements of a Semi-trailer, now THAT would be truly spectacular….and revolutionary.

    • Marshall Gill 3 years ago

      No, you may not ask those questions. It should be enough to know that oil bad, electric good.

      What would be truly spectacular and revolutionary would be for Mr. Musk to produce something, anything, without government subsidy. I won’t be holding my breath.

      • Richosaki 3 years ago

        No-one likes the difficult questions do they ;-).

        In effect my 23 year old Land Rover Defender 300TDi is more environmentally friendly than a lot of so called Eco-cars as it will still be going when they have all died….

    • Miles Harding 3 years ago

      Recycle and Re-use.
      It’s just that there are virtually no dead li-on car batteries yet.

      Hydrogen and Fool cells are too inefficient to have a chance in general use.

  17. Petra Liverani 3 years ago

    Amazing but does this mean the demise of Ice Truckers and their TV show?

  18. Jerome Barry 3 years ago

    This article was written be a fanboy who seems to have never met a truck fleet operator.

  19. Roger Brown 3 years ago

    How about a 1 tonne ute / Van electric vehicles ! Only van I know is the Nissan E- NV200 ? Built on the Leaf chassis .

  20. X Auto 3 years ago

    Awesome !

  21. MaxG 3 years ago

    I wish Elon all the success in brining new ideas to the world, the nay sayers never saw possible.

  22. Ilyas Abasi 3 years ago

    News of the day, electric trucks cost less. Will driver-less trucks impact employment statistics ? Change is rapid & constant, believe me or not.

  23. AP 3 years ago

    In Europe a driver has to stop each 4,5 H of driving for ca. 45 minutes. So he has all the time in the world to charge his truck. For me the mainly problem could be the charger points and the complete energy network from sources to the end charger point.

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