Tesla Semi: An Upcoming Electric Semi Truck
There seems to be no stopping Tesla. The technological giant currently has a market capitalization more than twice over Ford. Recently, Tesla has decided to step into the semi-truck market with their new Tesla Semi, set to be released by the end of this year, 2020. Here’s a rundown of all of Elon Musk’s individual marketing points.
Tesla cars run on electricity; the Semi will be no different. Tesla says that the Semi will run on “less than” 2 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per mile. Comparing this to the typical diesel engine big rig might seem like apples to oranges, but with some math and unit conversions, we can get a ballpark comparison.
First, let’s get some numbers:
- The average 18-wheeler gets 5.9 miles on a gallon of diesel fuel.
- 1 gallon of diesel fuel generates 138,874 British Thermal Units (BTU) of energy.
- 2 kWh is equal to approximately 6,824 BTUs.
- The EPA uses BTUs to compare different sources of energy.
From these variables, we can see that the amount of energy required to move an average diesel truck a mile would take 23,538 BTUs. For the Semi to move a mile, it uses 29% of the energy a normal diesel truck would utilize. Using the standard diesel truck as our benchmark, the Tesla Semi gets the equivalent of 20.3 miles per gallon of diesel fuel. This exceeds not only the energy efficiency of the average diesel truck, but also even the most efficient diesel big rigs.
The twin models of the Semi will have ranges of 300 or 500 miles. This 600 Kwh to 1 megawatt-hour capacity is equal to a diesel fuel tank capacity of 51 to 84.75 gallons.
Assuming 12.84 cents per kWh, the Semi will cost about 25 cents per mile in fuel costs, contrasted with 52 cents per mile with diesel.
With Tesla overcoming the largest problem with electric vehicles, that being their normally limited range, the corporation must now overcome its next biggest obstacle: the time to refuel. If someone particularly patient or foolish were to use a standard charging station plugged into a standard household outlet, it could very well take up to over 526 hours to fully charge the 500-mile battery!
Naturally, nobody would buy a semi-truck that has to spend more time off than road than on, so Tesla has worked to increase charging rates for its vehicles. Recently, Tesla has unveiled its Supercharger V3 station, which can charge at a rate of up to 250 kilowatts.
While not compatible with the Semi just yet, the Supercharger V3 station would be able to fully charge the 500-mile Semi in approximately five hours (realistically, it would take longer to charge than 4 hours because more drained batteries are more receptive to new charge). Plug your Semi into a Supercharger, go to sleep, and wake up with all the fuel you need for the day.
Not to be outdone by themselves, the electric car company wants to push even higher and implement Megachargers. Details are sparse, but Elon Musk says that an empty battery will be able to fill 400 miles in 30 minutes. If this is true, that means the Megacharger will live up to its name and deliver 1.6 megawatts.
Like most Tesla models, the Semi will have Enhanced Autopilot. This feature scans the road for lane markers and makes sure the vehicle stays in its lane on the highway, while also reading ahead to know if the car in front of it is slowing down.
As with all driver assistance programs in the modern vehicle, it is not intended to be a replacement for an actual driver. Tesla will require the driver to keep both hands on the wheel at all times in order to keep Enhanced Autopilot on.
- Acceleration with 80,000 pounds: 20 seconds
- Speed up a 5% grade: 60 MPH
- Mile Range: 300 or 500 miles
- Powertrain: 4 independent motors on rear axles
- Energy Consumption: less than 2 kWh per mile
- Drag Coefficient: 0.36
- Enhanced Autopilot: included
Tesla has a habit of falling behind on production. When first announced in 2017, the Semi was slated for sale in 2019, but that has since been pushed back.
There is no saying as to whether or not Semi production will be shelved again for another year to 2021, or even 2022, but with Tesla’s history of creating ideas faster than they can make them a reality, it would not be surprising if Semis did not become a consistent sight on the road until 2023. Tesla advises putting money down to reserve your Semi in order to get one as soon as possible.
Like the automobile world before, Tesla hopes to take the trucking world by storm. Tesla’s CEO hopes to convince fleet owners and truckers alike that purchasing a Semi is a worthwhile investment that will more than pay for itself from maintenance and fuel savings. Depending on how well the company can implement its Supercharger V3 (or even its Megacharger) will determine whether or not electric semi-trucks can keep pace with the engines first invented by Rudolf Diesel.
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