Tesla Semi plans to revolutionise road haulage

American electric car manufacturer Tesla has unveiled what could be its most ambitious new model yet, the Tesla Semi.

Claiming to deliver massive savings in energy costs, performance, efficiency and reliability, the Tesla Semi is a radical reinterpretation of the traditional semi-trailer cab. Delivering its energy from electricity stored in batteries rather than diesel, Tesla claims that the Semi will achieve greater acceleration and hill-climbing performance than a diesel truck.

The initial version of the Tesla Semi claims a battery range of around 500 miles, which will be satisfactory for short-haul routes with trucks charged at their home depot but not as good for long-haul operations. The company claims that its new high-speed “megachargers” can provide 400 miles’ worth of charge in 30 minutes. Despite promising to roll out a network of megachargers similar to its “superchargers” dotted across the countryside for car drivers to recharge their Teslas, haulier are likely to be cautious given that Tesla’s supercharger network for passenger cars is still woefully undersupplied in the UK several years into the programme.

Then, of course, there is the price. It’s estimated that the Tesla Semi could cost more than £200,000 by the time it arrives in 2019. That’s more than double the price of an equivalent diesel lorry, which rules it out for most smaller operators. Even if Tesla is correct about “massive savings” in costs of ownership, it’s still an awful lot of money for a company to find or finance for each truck.

Big American operators place their orders

In the US, large operators like Walmart have already placed orders for the new truck, but UK adoption is likely to be a lot slower. There has been considerable scepticism expressed in trade media about many of the Semi’s claims, not least due to Tesla over-promising and under-delivering in its car business for the last few years.

There is also concern about the practicality of some of the key features of the Semi, like its central driving position and use of two screens to replace a multitude of rear-view mirrors on conventional lorries. No doubt some of the concerns will be alleviated once people actually get on board the truck to try it for themselves, but at this stage there hasn’t been a lot of detail provided.

Tesla certainly has a job ahead to convince British truck operators that its vision of the future is worth gambling on, but we certainly look forward to finding out more as the 2019 launch date draws closer.

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Stuart Masson
Stuart Massonhttps://thetruckexpert.co.uk
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites, The Car Expert, The Van Expert and The Truck Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.

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