Tesla Semi truck to have range of up to 960 kilometres, says Elon Musk

by Sam Sheehan, Autocar UK 04 May 2018

The Tesla Semi electric lorry will be capable of travelling up to 600 miles / 960 kilometres to a single charge, even when fully loaded, company CEO Elon Musk has claimed.

According to Electrek, Musk said during Tesla's quarter one results conference call that he was "optimistic" the Semi would beat the 500-mile range announced at its reveal last year.

His claims come after Daimler's lorry division boss, Martin Daum, said that the Semi's statistics "defied the laws of physics".

That top truck, which comes with Musk's 960km claims, costs $180,000 (Rs 1.2 crore at today's rate) in the US. A lower-spec variant with a 300-mile /480km range is also due, priced from $150,000 (Rs 1 crore). Prices for diesel lorries in Britain start at about £85,000 (Rs 56 lakh), by comparison. 

Tesla reports record losses - but boss Musk insists it is close to profitability

Several US companies, including Walmart, the American owner of supermarket Asda, have already reserved Semis, putting the model on course to enter service as soon as it makes production in 2019. The price to reserve a Semi quadrupled from $5,000 to $20,000 shortly after the lorry's reveal.

During its November reveal in Hawthorne, California, US, where Tesla also showed a new Roadster sports car, company CEO Elon Musk said that the Semi, which was previously referred to as the Tesla Truck, was capable of accelerating from 0-100kph in 5.0sec.

He said it was also able to hit the mark in 20sec even when laden with a trailer fully loaded with 80,000lb (almost 36 tonnes) of cargo. This beats the average sprint time for regular diesel-powered rivals by around 40sec.

The Semi's energy recovery systems are claimed to be capable of recovering 98% of kinetic energy to the battery. For regular charging, the lorry can be connected to so-called Megachargers, which is a new high-speed DC charging solution, that is said to add about 400 miles in 30 minutes and can be installed at origin or destination points, much like the existing Superchargers.

Efficiency is boosted by a low wind resistance, with Tesla claiming that its Semi has a drag coefficient of 0.36Cd. It states that most of its competitors are closer to 0.65Cd.

Tesla has refrained from going into further detail about the lorry's drivetrain and battery but has revealed that the vehicle features advanced autonomous technology to prevent jack-knifing of the trailer. Onboard sensors are installed to detect instability and can adjust torque sent to each wheel and independently actuate all brakes to prevent jack-knifing.

Additionally, surround cameras provide autonomous object detection and reduce blind spots, alerting the driver to safety hazards and obstacles. The lorry also introduces a new Enhanced Autopilot system, with automatic emergency braking, automatic lane keeping, lane departure warning and even event recording.

The Tesla Semi can travel in a convoy, allowing one or several Semis to autonomously follow a lead Semi.

Alongside the claims for performance and safety, Musk also said that the Semi would provide users with massive savings. Figures produced by Tesla state that owners "can expect to save $200,000 or more in savings over a million miles based on fuel costs alone".

Production is due to start next year, at which time Musk believes the company's "production bottlenecks" will be history.

These production issues related to supply difficulties with the Model 3. They caused the reveal of the Semi to be delayed by several weeks.

Read more about the Tesla Model 3's production bottlenecks here