Tesla Semi: long-delayed electric HGV to arrive tonight

Tesla Semi 2022 front quarter tracking

The Tesla Semi was shown in prototype form in 2017, originally slated for a 2019 launch

Battery-electric lorry is claimed to have a 500-mile range and a 0-60mph time of just 5.0sec unladen

A production version of the long-delayed Tesla Semi will be shown today in a customer handover ceremony at the firm’s Nevada Gigafactory.

The HGV, first shown in prototype form in 2017, is rumoured to be offered with either a 600kWh or 1000kWh battery for 300 and 500-mile ranges respectively.

It has completed a 500-mile drive fully laden (at 81,000lbs or 36,741kg), Tesla CEO Elon Musk claimed in a recent Twitter post.

The rival Daf CF Electric – a European-style cab-forward lorry – is offered with a 315kWh battery, giving a 137-mile range (in tractor configuration). It has a gross combined mass (the maximum weight of the HGV and trailer) of 37,000kg.

Musk denied that the Semi uses the more energy-dense 4680 cells on Tesla’s recent third-quarter earnings call.

“The Semi doesn’t use the 4680s. We’re making Model Ys; some of the Model Ys coming out of Giga Texas [factory] are 4680,” said Musk, implying that supply of the cells was being diverted to cars.

Tesla has claimed energy consumption below 2kWh per mile for the Semi and the ability to replenish 70% of a charge in just 30 minutes using a Megacharger – the first of which was installed at the Nevada Gigafactory.

A tri-motor powertrain – driving the two rear axles – dispatches the 0-60mph sprint in 20sec fully laden or 5.0sec without cargo.

Tesla originally stated the Semi would use four motors, and a high-performance model – in the mould of the Model S Plaid – isn’t out of the question.

Inside, a central seat is flanked by two infotainment displays, each displaying a blindspot camera view for its respective side of the HGV. The left also displays diagnostic data such as speed and charge level, while the right also shows navigation.

When the Semi was first shown in prototype form five years ago, slated for a 2019 launch, Tesla said it would be priced between $150,000 and $180,000. However, given the increased cost of vehicle production and supply-chain problems, this cost is likely to have risen significantly. 

More detailed technical specifications – including the Semi’s official power output, battery capacity and pricing – are expected to be announced at the Nevada delivery event.

The Semi’s sudden revival after fading into obscurity – much like the Roadster it was shown alongside in 2017 – is widely speculated to be a response to the Inflation Reduction Act. Signed off by US president Joe Biden in August, this contributes tax credits up to $40,000 for electric commercial vehicles weighing more than 14,000lbs (6350kg).

Numerous large companies are known to have placed orders for the truck, including delivery firm UPS and the Canadian division of Walmart.

The first units will go to Pepsi. The soft-drinks giant was given $15.4 million (£12.5m) by the California Air Resources Board to order low-emissions commercial vehicles, including 15 Semis, Bloomberg has reported.

Musk said on the Q3 earnings call that production is planned to scale up to 50,000 units annually by 2024. Company chair Robyn Denholm recently said Tesla may build 100 by the end of this year.

Source: Autocar

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