The launch of the Tesla semi prime mover has been characterised by hype, hype and more hype, with a series of leaks building up anticipation before the launch. Here is the moment the truck was finally unveiled in front a bunch of baying fans and assembled journalists, most of whom do not know one end of a truck from another.
As a result of the interest from the general and technology media there is very little good technical detail in the release for us truck people to get our teeth into.
The truck is claimed to be capable of 0–96km/h in 20 seconds when loaded to 38 tonnes GCM (gross combination mass). This is one of those figures that can only be described as an educated guess, but definitely irrelevant. No one buys a truck on its performance from zero to 60mph.
The claimed drag coefficient at 0.36 CD is impressive and would make for a very aerodynamic and fuel efficient truck. The figure is one for the model as shown, with a specially devised trailer and a system to fill in the gap between the prime mover and trailer at highway speeds. The drag specified is unlikely to be achieved in any real world operation.
The speed up a five per cent grade of 65mph (105km/h) as a claim is hard to question, in ideal conditions. However the claim a truck powered by a diesel engine can only go 45mph (72km/h) can be questioned. What kind of diesel engine? At what power rating? Using the same aerodynamic package as the Tesla?
A range of 500 miles (800km) is impressive and will be a game changer. The current technology fitted in electric trucks is constantly a compromise between tare weight and range. A big range is achievable with current battery technology, but the weight of the battery pack required makes it impractical in most cases. Tesla is claiming a major breakthrough.
The claimed $200,000 savings and a two-year payback period look very interesting to the truck buyer. The question is whether these claims will stand up in the real world. Is this for real, or is it just hype?
One thing is absolutely certain. The launch of the Tesla semi has made every one sit up and take notice. Electric trucks are definitely on the agenda now and everyone is talking about them. This follows a Tokyo Motor Show where every truck manufacturer had an electric truck on display.
Electric trucks look like they are here to stay, but Diesel News would suggest it will be quite some time before we see a Tesla truck hauling six decks of cattle out of the Cloncurry sale yards, en route to the abattoir.