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Musk unveils Tesla Semi; 500-mile range at highway speed with 80,000 lbs GVW; next-gen Roadster appears

Emphasizing “BAMF” performance, Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduced the Tesla Semi in an evening event. The sleek electric truck, with a 0.36 coefficient of drag (supported by intelligent flaps that support a range of trailers), will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 5 seconds, charge up a 5% grade at 65 mph, and deliver 500 miles of range, Musk said.

According to Musk, 80% of truck routes are less than 250 miles; the Tesla Semi thus in theory could make a round trip on those routes without charging, he suggested.

Taking a page from Toyota’s presentation book, Tesla ran animations comparing the acceleration of the Tesla Semi vs. a conventional diesel truck. (For the reveal of its Class 8 hydrogen fuel cell prototype, Toyota presented a video of a side by side acceleration demonstration between the actual Portal fuel cell prototype and a diesel. Earlier post.) The diesel made it from 0-60 in 20 seconds, compared to the 5 seconds of the Tesla Semi.

View from the cockpit with its centered driver position.

The Tesla Semi will feature an enhanced autopilot capability as standard, with automatic emergency braking, automatic lane keeping, and forward collision warning.

Tesla guarantees the 4-motor drivetrain (one independent motor on each of the rear four wheels) to last one million miles. Tesla estimates $1.26/mile average cost versus $1.51/mile for a diesel truck.


Musk also emphasized the economic benefits of a 3-truck platoon, which can he said can beat rail in terms of cost.

Musk said that reserving a Tesla Semi requires a $5,000 reservation. Production is projected to begin in 2019. New solar-powered “Megachargers” will be able to add 400 miles of range in 30 minutes of charging.

Tesla also revealed the next-gen Roadster, with eye-watering specs: 0-60 seconds in 1.9 seconds, the quarter mile in 8.9 seconds, 0-100 mph in 4.2 seconds, and a 200 kWh battery pack supporting 620 miles of range. The four-seater is slated to be available in 2020.


Founders Series reservations for the Roadster 2 run $250,000; a standard Roadster 2 reservation runs $45,000.



How much of the gross vehicle weight of 80,000 lbs us taken up by the battery pack?

Funnily enough, truck operators need to know that, and the load is critical.

It blows my mind that people are dumb enough not to see that this is hype and hookum, not a product launch with actionable specifications.

The only real thing here is Tesla hoping to hook in $50k deposits for a new Roadster, to be uses as utterly unsecured venture capital at zero interest rate instead of being put into a ring-fenced account.

That people can be that dumb also blows my mind.

Let the circus continue.


And as Singleton Engineer said on Seeking Alpha:

'A Roadster with acceleration from rest of 2 seconds to 50mph?
That's 1.38g.
Comparison: Braking performance (max): Range 0.5 to 10.g. The latter requires high standard road surfaces plus "sticky tyres".
Along comes Elon Musk and Tesla claiming 1.32g.
I cry bulls__t.
At the very least, this car will need new high performance tyres after each couple of demonstration bursts - and this car is only for speed demonstration purposes, right? It's not for actual transport?
There's nothing green about that kind of performance. Even if it was powered by pixie dust it would be too hard on the planet.'

James McLaughlin

If reports elsewhere are true (https://electrek.co/2017/11/16/tesla-semi-live-blog/) that the cost will be $200k to $250k, then the payback time versus diesel looks like at least 4 years at 100,000 miles per year (which is on the high side of average applications, which are under 70k miles per year). There are maybe other reasons to buy it, so missing the magic 3 year payback will not be fatal.

No mention of whether this is a day cab or a sleeper configuration, though it looks like the latter.

No mention of energy on board. Assuming 1000 kWh, they must have efficiency down to 2 kWh per mile, which is better than the usual 2.5 kWh per mile for diesel. I assume this is best case, good road conditions are moderate temperatures.

That would put charging rates north of 1 MW. That will be "fun". One plug or two? Or four? North of 1000 V? Time will tell...

OK, so not much technical detail but clearly this is going to take some time. That is to be expected.

With Proterra already putting 0.66 MWh on a transit bus, this should not be so surprising. Two years away seems reasonable. They have lots of work to do in the meantime. The vibration profile is going to be a challenge. The sonically welded fuse wires on the small cells might not survive vibration, so the battery tech might be drastically different compared to passenger cars.


Another hand to TESLA for:

1) A first generation long haul e-truck with 500 miles range.
2) A next generation super 620 miles range Roadster.

Those two units will more than match equivalent ICE versions, except for range. Quick charging stations will have to supply up to 400 KW instead of 150 KW. It is doable now.

One advantage for going electric is that batteries price, size and weight will progressively go down by about 8%/year making both units more competitive in the near future.


'Congrats on making a truck that will gets it undercarriage torn off in its 5,000th mile at any one of these exits / underpasses within one square mile of a light industrial area in Buffalo. Nice clearance specs.'


Davemart. It nice to know that your mind is blown. The Roadster is out to improve on the specs of gas card like Veyrons, McLarens, Lamborghinis and other cars that sell for 2, 3 and 4 times the price. No one regularly drives those cars at their potential. It is a status symbol and proves the superiority of EVs. Oh and it's not 0-50 in under 2 seconds, it's 0-60mph.
P.S. even if you drove at it's potential it would be many times greener than those other models.


Bragging about 0-60 times for a god damn semi truck is retarded as it disregards the safety of the cargo being subjected to such jarring forces. Just as I own a gas and diesel box truck I purposely accelerate at relatively the same speed to protect the contents of my cargo and securing devices.

In regards to range how will stop and go traffic, high heat, or extreme cold affect range which are unavoidable facts of life. I'd support a hybrid semi-truck before full blown EV as you get the benefit of peace of mind regardless of human operated. As a broken charger station or line for "refueling" means my shipment is late which in a perishable or live animal cargo situation will be costly.



All the Roadster needs is a magical new battery, with around 2.5 times the energy density of current ones.

We have heard nothing about it, but Tesla is going to be good enough to take $250,000 a pop for utterly unsecured, zero interest rate venture capital into the business from anyone fancying that they will manage it.

After all, they took money for cars which were supposed to be fully Level 5 Autonomous Driving capable, with actually making it work to follow.

And if the battery does not work, tough on the potential buyers, as it is, as I said, entirely unsecured.


Good to know that you’re looking out for the best interests of the poor fools who can afford to plunk down a $50,000 deposit on a $250,000 car, Davemart.

It’s not like folks with that kind of scratch could figure out the risk profile of that kind of bet, right?

Porsche sold the 918 for $800,000 - $1,000,000. Tesla will have buyers lined up for at least a similar volume production run of a $200-$250k car with better performance.

I saw the Roadster do performance runs on the tarmac Thursday night. If you think Tesla, which already produces the worlds fastest production car, will have any trouble producing the Roadster 2.0, please short them heavily. The market will be happy to take your money.


I've seen estimates on the truck battery being from 1200kwh to 1000kwh. If it's full load 500 miles range it would likely be the former.

I am actually pleasantly surprised that they managed 500miles. I was expecting the commonly rumored 250 or so. As, Dave has pointed out the gross weight is 80k. This could be an issue when you're talking about such big battery packs.

I am happy they have organized a mega charger too. Hopefully others adopt or agree on a common standard soon, or even that tesla cross licenses its stations/charge infrastructures for others to use. It looks to be at over 1mw charger. We could be at 1000volts, to make things easier on the connector and cable end. Smaller anyway.

The trucks will catch on, same with the Nikola one, cost per mile is less than diesel. Thus, it will sell like crazy.

$250k for an exotic isn't bad, it will be the second or third ever for an American car company depending on how you view the viper or some of the really small manufacturer. Those tires must cost a fortune though, all that weight, and the speed rating to boot.


ECI, maybe I'm being picky, but you should say fastest acceleration. I got really confused for a second.

I always associate fast with speed, and quickness with acceleration.

Hopefully we won't have any 250mph+, 5000lbs+ missiles on the road. The destruction would be insane. The amount of energy, wow.


You're right, CE, I should have said quickest. Musk did say the new Roadster would top out at 250 mph. I share your concern. People are already getting into trouble with the S and X. A doctor in Orange County California is facing manslaughter charges after killing a couple of commuters returning home from work.


Does tesla speed limit their cars?

Typical ICE cars are speed limited by the manufacturers based on several parameters...like the tires equipped being the biggest has to do with the speed rating and the heat dissipation, and load properties. Like if you push triple digits speed you need to inflate your tires a lot more.

I imagine, in several years, someone will find a way to sue auto makers for not limiting cars to 80mph, and another person shortly after that sue for limiting the cars speed.

Some cars use track keys, and normal drive keys for sporty features, like running out of EPA parameters on a track i.e not road legal emissions(well not certified), extra boost and so on.

Its really not how fast you go, its how quickly you come to a stop that's what kills you.

It would be interesting to see how tesla handles that, perhaps a legal page right before plaid speed.

I'm interested to know the sales numbers on the bolt and the model 3 as of late. I worry that tesla is going to be in a bad way if they consistently can't deliver on
their promises. I'm not knocking the things they have promised, all of their cars are very much in demand, but its just getting them into peoples hands that seems bothersome to me.

I used to work on preproduction units, and I know startups can have problems, and if one supplier has an issue, it can wreak havoc at everyone else involved. Tesla, even though highly valued likely doesn't have a lot of pull with suppliers. Some cars almost sell 1million units a year, just in the states on a global car, usually its daily almost exponential growth during startup trials, and sometimes it goes very quick, but the 2800 or whatever deliveries speak of trouble. They have had a long while to ramp up since they debuted their Alpha models.


Tesla/Musk certainly does not suffer from a lack of ambition or thinking large. I just hope that they can stay above water. I know that they are late with the Series 3 production.

I Think that I would have tried a truck designed more for local delivery first. I have talked to a number of our delivery drivers. we get daily deliveries of steel, ltl freight, etc. plus UPS, FedEx, and OnTrac. Anyway, about the furthest that they drive is less than 150 miles. It is much easier to design a truck for relatively low speed stop and go traffic than trying to compete in the long haul market.



Concerning the comments on the acceleration. Last year, The FormulaSAE students from Prauge, Czech Republic built an all wheel drive electric formula car that turned 0 t0 100 Km/hr (62 mph) in 1.513 sec. They were, of course, using race tires and they had fudged the rules slightly to use a total of 100 KW for a demo run while the FormulaSAE rules limit the students to 80 KW during the competition.


With all of the hoopla surrounding Tesla’s new semi-truck, not to mention the surprise unveiling of a next-gen Roadster, it was easy to miss Elon Musk show off the first official renderings of Tesla’s long-rumored pickup truck. During the special media event, Musk briefly showed crowd attendees a somewhat odd concept of a pickup truck big enough to carry a traditionally sized pickup truck. As Musk intimated, the design is essentially a mini version of the Tesla Semi with 4 wheels instead of the semi's 6, meaning it would not need a truck drivers license. Also Musk has tweeted the pickup could be the base for a cargo van. I would go for one of those, it would make for a great Class B motorhome.


It was hard to figure out if that was just a sight gag or a serious peek at some future vehicle that would dominate in the mud-bog crowd.

I agree, ai_vin, a motorhome based on this would be interesting. Hard to know how the solo driver position would go over, though.

Also, megacharging along with the Semis would be less than optimal. Otoh, 240 overnight at an RV park would be easy, if not cheap. This is not just speculation, I've done both with my Model S.


US based factories not longer perform well enough.

To survive, TESLA will have to move some or all battery, storage facilities, charging units and vehicle manufacturing to higher performance factories in Asia.

If not, many others will and could drive TESLA out of business by 2025 or so.

Apple is one of the good example to follow?

Brian P

^ Let's support North American manufacturing, please.

Tesla could very well be out of business by 2025 due to committing to too many expensive projects too soon. They really should focus on getting Model 3 production up and running, and leave the pet projects aside for now.

The Tesla semi as shown is not production ready; they've got a fair number of visible non-conformances to motor vehicle safety standards in the concept vehicle, in addition to potential ground clearance concerns that someone else mentioned. Mirrors (you are not allowed to substitute them with cameras! - you can have cameras, but you still need mirrors). Air brakes with the associated mandated gauges and handles, at a minimum. The ability to see and inspect the drive wheels and hubs and brakes. Windows that roll down. The ability to see around traffic when making a left turn without relying on cameras (central driving position is not good for this - and it's not such a critical issue with right turns).



Whatever the non-compliance issues with the concept/prototype, it's likely that Tesla's offering will be much closer to the production than most of the wild flights of fancy we see when just about every other manufacturer shows off a concept/prototype.

Agree that focus would be reassuring in the face of delays.


Agree with the principle to support North American manufacturing as long as we can keep a competitive productivity level.

Lower relative productivity produces huge delays and will take TESLA down. Future intelligent robots may help?

TESLA may have to do what Apple (and many others) have done and move some or all manufacturing to Asia where labour is plentiful, less costly and more productive.

Research, design, upgrading and new models testing could remain in USA, for models sold in USA. Models sold in Asia should designed locally.

Brian P

^ I doubt if you've set foot in a manufacturing plant lately. I do every day.

Tesla's problem at the moment has nothing to do with productivity and nothing to do with robots (they've got plenty of them), and a lot to do with making too many promises that can't be kept, and that's a management issue. The delays aren't because the workers aren't working (Far from it), they're because management has underestimated the monumental task of making everything work together properly. They opted to skip prototype build ... well, guess what, they're doing it anyhow, whether they wanted to or not, and it's to the surprise of nobody who works in the auto industry. They will get it done, but it will be months late (i.e. it will end up taking the normal amount of time, instead of being compressed the way it was promised).

In one of the videos that shows the Model 3 being assembled, you can see a piece of equipment that a customer of mine built. And that is about as much as I can say about it. What it means is that I do not want Tesla to fail ... but I do want them to do what they say they will do when they said they will do it, the corollary of that being don't make promises you can't keep.


Tesla used 7 cents/kwh in their ev ($1.26/mi) vs diesel ($1.51/mi) operating costs comparison.

Where do they expect truck drivers to be able to purchase electricity on demand for 7 cents/kwh? Certainly not in California!

I suspect the ev operating cost advantage disappears if they assume California rates (15-30 cents/kwh).


Tesla said that the price of electricity at the megachargers would be $0.07. Considering that they own a solar and panel cell factory, utility scale battery manufacturing plant and nationwide installation crew, it seems reasonable to imagine that they could provide electricity for $0.07 within a few years.

They have already proven adept at selling pre-paid fuel.


@ eci

Where does it say the pickup would have a solo driver's position? Musk said his pickup would be big enough to carry another pickup: The track width of an F150 is 67 inches ball park, center to center of tire so add say another 8 inches for wheel width so 75 inches between the Tesla’s wheel wells would work. The box would need to be 80 inches on the inside above the wheel wells to fit the F150 body width. With that much width to work with where's no need for a central driving position and you could have 3 people side-by-side up front easily.

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