Tesla Semi

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Tesla Semi
The Tesla Semi Truck (40705940423).jpg
Tesla Semi truck
ManufacturerTesla, Inc.
Also called
    • Tesla Truck [1]
Body and chassis
ClassClass 8 heavy-duty truck
Body styleTractor unit for semi-trailer trucks
Electric range300 or 500 mi (480 or 800 km)
Curb weightnot disclosed[2]

The Tesla Semi is an all-electric battery-powered Class 8 semi-trailer truck in development by Tesla, Inc.. Two concept vehicles were unveiled in November 2017, and limited production near end of 2020 is planned.[3][4]

The company initially announced that the truck would have a 500 miles (805 km) range on a full charge and with its new batteries it would be able to run for 400 miles (640 km) after an 80% charge in 30 minutes using a solar-powered "Tesla Megacharger" charging station. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that the Semi would come standard with Tesla Autopilot that allows semi-autonomous driving on highways.


The Semi was first mentioned in the Tesla 2016 Master Plan.[5] Tesla said at the time that they have a working prototype that uses 'a bunch' of Tesla Model 3 electric motors.[6] As of April 2017, Jerome Guillen had been leading the Tesla Semi program. Guillen was once in charge of Freightliner's Cascadia Diesel-engine Class 8 semi, before joining Tesla to configure the Model S production line.[7][8], but left the Semi program a year later to lead one of the Model 3 general assembly lines[9] and subsequently became Tesla president of automotive in September 2018.[10] The new lead for the Semi program has not been publicly announced as of late 2019.

The Semi was unveiled at a press conference on November 16, 2017, where Musk provided additional specifics. He did not provide a planned price but claimed that the electric Semi would cost 20 ¢/mi (12 ¢/km) less to operate than a diesel truck.[11] That prediction depends on the cost of electricity in the location where a Semi will be charged; the high cost in California, for example, may eliminate the operating cost benefit.[12]

Two prototype Tesla Semis in Rocklin, California

In November 2017, Tesla projected that the expected price of regular production versions for the 300-and-500-mile-range (480 and 800 km) versions would be US$150,000 and US$180,000 respectively. The company stated they would offer a Founder's Series Semi at US$200,000.[13]

In March 2018, Tesla announced that the Semi was being tested with real cargo, hauling battery packs from Nevada to California.[14] In August 2018, a Tesla Semi prototype traveled by itself—without escort or accompanying vehicles—for a week to arrive at the J. B. Hunt headquarters in Arkansas.[15][16][17]

In June 2019, Tesla projected that production would begin by the end of 2020.[4] A few months later, in the October Q3 investor call, they maintained the 2020 production target, albeit in limited numbers.[18]


The first pre-orders came in the day of the press conference and by mid-January 2018 approximately 450 Semis had been pre-ordered.[19][20][21][22] The original deposit required with an order was $5,000, which was increased to $20,000 after the event in November.[23] In the Q1 2018 Tesla earnings call, Musk said that there were about 2,000 total pre-orders of the Semi.[24]

Tesla Semi cockpit
Notable orders
Buyer Quantity
Anheuser-Busch 40
Bee'ah 50
DHL Supply Chain 10
FedEx 20
Loblaw Companies 25
PepsiCo 100
Sysco 50
United Parcel Service 125
Walmart 45
Total 465

November 2017 prototype and plans[edit]

In November 2017, Musk said that the Semi would be powered by four electric motors of the type used in the Tesla Model 3.[25] Two battery configurations of 300 miles (480 km) and 500 miles (805 km) range (fully loaded) were planned with the battery packs located under the floor of the cab, between the back and front wheels.[25] Running empty, the long-range Tesla Semi would have a range of 620 miles (997 km).[26] Tesla said the Semi would have 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) time of 5 seconds unloaded and in 20 seconds fully loaded.[12] The Semi would be able to maintain a speed of 65 mph (105 km/h) on a 5% grade.[27] The company touted a warranty for a million miles (1.6 million km) and said maintenance would be simpler than a diesel truck.[12] A month after the reveal, Tesla reduced the uphill speed spec (by 5 mph) to 60 mph.[28][29]

In the prototype shown in November the driver's seat was located in the center of the cab. There was a removable jump seat for an extra passenger and there was no sleeping area.[27][25] There were touchscreen displays on either side of the steering wheel, and no other instrument panels.[27] Musk said that the windshield would be explosion-proof.[27]

Tesla said that the Semi would be equipped with enhanced autopilot as standard equipment, offering semi-autonomous capability.[30] Using more radar devices and cameras than Tesla cars, the system would enable the truck to stay in its own lane and a safe distance from other vehicles on a highway, would have emergency braking, and would warn the driver of any potential hazards near the vehicle.[12] Tesla also said that new technology with active safety controls would detect and prevent jackknifing.[12] Musk said that the system would eventually allow several units to operate in an autopilot-based convoy, led by a truck with a driver, that would be a cheaper alternative to rail transport.[31] At the time, platooning was legal in only eight states and all required a human driver in each truck so changes in legislation would be necessary to achieve Musk's vision.[31] Media reports noted the lack of specification for vehicle weight, as payload is restricted by government rules for the weight of the combined tractor-trailer.[32][27]

In November 2017, Tesla said it planned to use the Semi to transport cargo between Gigafactory 1 and the Fremont plant.[33][34][needs update]

Tesla Megacharger[edit]

At the November 2017 press conference Musk also said that the company would be involved in installing a global network of "Megachargers" that would be solar-powered and would be able to recharge a truck's batteries in 30 minutes to a capacity to travel 400 miles (640 km) .[35][31][36] To accomplish this, it will likely have an output level over one megawatt.[37]

Third party analysis[edit]

An analyst with Jefferies Group expressed skepticism over some of Tesla's claims because the company had not determined battery longevity; specifics about that aspect, and the replacement cost of the battery, are essential in order to calculate the long-term cost of ownership.[38]

Some industry experts view heavy-duty freight as impractical for battery trucks due to cost and weight.[32][39][40] A senior VP at Daseke Inc., a large trucking company, said that the limited range affected their likelihood of operating the Semi until the necessary infrastructure was in place.[41]

A Bloomberg L.P. report showed that given the battery technology available in November 2017, Tesla's estimates for charging times, range per charge, and costs were not realistic,[35] some suggesting that Tesla may be betting on increased battery density advances in the next couple of years to meet its stated goals.[42]

A 2017 theoretical analysis of electric semi trucks was completed by researchers from the Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering in mid-2017, ostensibly in response to Musk's description of Tesla's work on a "a heavy duty, long-range semi truck" at a talk in April 2017,[43][failed verification] The analysis estimated that loads and ranges for an electric truck, given battery technologies known at that time, and published their work in June 2017.[44] The analysis indicated that an electric semi might be feasible for short- or medium-range hauling, but would not be for long-range hauling, as the weight of the batteries required would take up too much of the weight allowed by law.[44] One estimate for the battery weight, at 11,800 kg, was estimated to account for one third of the payload, and would increase the cost of the truck to about double that of an equivalent diesel.[45]


As of November 2017, companies already developing their own electric trucks include BYD Company, Cummins, Daimler AG, Einride, Kalmar, Kenworth, Nikola Motor, Proterra, Inc., Xos Trucks, VDL, Daf trucks, Toyota, Uber and Volkswagen.[27][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Steve Banker (17 November 2017). "The Tesla Truck: Doubts Abound". Forbes.
  2. ^ Turpen, Aaron (2018-02-24). "Tesla Semi truck's battery pack and overall weight explored". TESLARATI. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  3. ^ "Tesla Q3'2019 Earnings report". Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  4. ^ a b Lambert, Fred (2019-06-11). "Elon Musk updates Tesla pickup and semi truck timelines". Electrek. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  5. ^ Bhuiyan, Johana (July 20, 2016). "Elon Musk's Master Plan: Solar power, Tesla trucks, self-driving cars and car-sharing". Recode.
  6. ^ Lambert, Fred (May 3, 2017). "Tesla Semi is using 'a bunch' of Model 3 electric motors, says Elon Musk". Electrek.
  7. ^ Lambert, Fred (April 13, 2017). "Tesla Semi all-electric truck to be unveiled in September and be 'next level', says Elon Musk". Electrek.
  8. ^ Lambert, Fred (26 November 2017). "Tesla's VP of Trucks talks about new electric semi, weight, charging, and more". Electrek.
  9. ^ Kolodny, Lora (16 June 2018). "Elon Musk tells Tesla employees that 'radical improvements' are needed to hit quarterly targets". CNBC News. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  10. ^ Wang, Christine (7 September 2018). "Tesla says Jerome Guillen has been promoted to president of automotive". CNBC News. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  11. ^ a b Holley, Peter (17 November 2017). "Tesla's latest creation: An electric big rig that can travel 500 miles on a single charge". The Washington Post.
  12. ^ a b c d e Harris, Mark (November 20, 2017). "More Logical Than Ludicrous: Tesla Semi Will Need to Deliver Reliability". Car and Driver.
  13. ^ Tung, Liam (November 24, 2017). "Tesla's all-electric Semi truck: Prices start at $150,000 and you can reserve one today". ZDNet.
  14. ^ "Elon Musk on Instagram: "First production cargo trip of the Tesla Semi heavy duty truck, carrying battery packs from the Gigafactory in the Nevada mountains to the…"". Instagram.
  15. ^ "Tesla's Semi truck is traveling cross-country 'alone'". www.msn.com. Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  16. ^ "Tesla Semi made it 'across the country alone' with only Supercharger network and an extension cord, says Elon Musk". Electrek. 2018-08-25. Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  17. ^ "Tesla's Semi truck is traveling cross-country 'alone'". Engadget. Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  18. ^ Kolodny, Lora (23 October 2019). "Tesla shares soar after crushing third-quarter earnings". CNBC. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  19. ^ "Tesla Semi receives important order of 100 electric trucks from PepsiCo". 12 December 2017.
  20. ^ "Tesla Semi will deliver beer – Budweiser orders 40 electric trucks". 7 December 2017.
  21. ^ "Tesla Semi receives large order of 50 electric trucks from Sysco". 8 December 2017.
  22. ^ Bee'ah to add 50 electric Tesla Semi trucks to its fleet Arabian Business, January 16, 2018
  23. ^ Smith, Jennifer (2017-11-28). "Tesla Truck Gets an Order from DHL as Shippers Give Elon Musk's New Vehicle a Try". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  24. ^ "Tesla's Semi-Truck Got Little Mention on Elon Musk's Recent Conference Call". Car and Driver. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  25. ^ a b c Davies, Alex (16 November 2017). "Elon Musk Has Unveiled Tesla's All-Electric Semitruck". Wired.
  26. ^ Drouglazet, Klervi (17 November 2017). "Tesla Semi : ce qu'il faut savoir sur le camion électrique semi-autonome de Tesla" [Tesla Semi: What you need to know]. L'Usine nouvelle (in French). Retrieved 18 September 2018. Il a une autonomie de 997 km à vide et de 804 km à charge maximum : 40 tonnes de marchandises.
  27. ^ a b c d e f O'Dell, John (2017-11-17). "Elon Musk Unveils Superfast, 500-mile Range Tesla Electric Semi-Truck". Trucks.com. Retrieved 2017-11-17. He provided no pricing information or specifics as to horsepower or torque figures.
  28. ^ "Semi | Tesla". web.archive.org. 2017-12-24. Retrieved 2020-01-19.
  29. ^ "Here's Everything We Know About the Tesla Semi". Trucks.com. 2019-09-05. Retrieved 2020-01-19.
  30. ^ Estrada, Zac (November 16, 2017). "This is the Tesla Semi truck". The Verge.
  31. ^ a b c Lien, Russ Mitchell, Tracey. "Tesla's Semi and Roadster impress, but 'production hell' raises doubts about follow-through – LA Times". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2017-11-25.
  32. ^ a b Pyper, Julia (16 November 2017). "Why Tesla's Electric Semi Truck Is the Toughest Thing Musk Has Attempted Yet". Greentech Media. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  33. ^ "Tesla to be its own first electric semi truck customer with cargo route between Fremont and Gigafactory 1". Electrek. 25 November 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  34. ^ Loveday, Steven. "Tesla Semi Will Transport Cargo Between Fremont And Gigafactory". insideevs.com. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  35. ^ a b Randall, Tom; Lippert, John (24 November 2017). "Tesla's Newest Promises Break the Laws of Batteries". Bloomberg.
  36. ^ della Cava, Marco. "Tesla Semi, an electric big rig truck with 500-mile range, rolls into reality". USA Today. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  37. ^ "Close-up look at the Tesla Semi "Megacharger" charging port". Teslarati. November 12, 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  38. ^ Winton, Neil (November 20, 2017). "Tesla Truck And Sports Car: Inspiration Or Distraction?". Forbes.
  39. ^ "Transitioning to zero-emission heavy-duty freight vehicles". International Council on Clean Transportation. Retrieved 2017-11-19.
  40. ^ Ferris, Robert (21 November 2017). "Electric trucks could sell faster than cars, but Tesla may be aiming at the wrong end of the market". CNBC.
  41. ^ Nov 20, 2017 "Tesla Ready to play the long game" The Australian, pp. 22
  42. ^ Morris, David Z. "Tesla's Latest Promises Depend on Advancing Battery Technology". Fortune. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  43. ^ Musk, Elon (April 2017). "Transcript: The future we're building -- and boring". TED.
  44. ^ a b Sripad, Shashank; Viswanathan, Venkatasubramanian (27 June 2017). "Performance Metrics Required of Next-Generation Batteries to Make a Practical Electric Semi Truck". ACS Energy Letters. 2 (7): 1669–1673. doi:10.1021/acsenergylett.7b00432. open access
  45. ^ The Australian Nov 20 2017, p22 "Tesla Ready to play the long game"

External links[edit]