Tesla Semi

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Tesla Semi
The Tesla Semi Truck (40705940423).jpg
A Tesla Semi truck
ManufacturerTesla, Inc.
Also calledTesla Truck[1]
Body and chassis
ClassClass 8 heavy-duty truck
Body styleTractor unit for semi-trailer
PropulsionElectric motors
Electric range300 or 500 mi (480 or 800 km)

The Tesla Semi is an all-electric battery-powered Class 8 semi-truck in development by Tesla, Inc. Two concept vehicles were unveiled in November 2017, and production is planned in 2023.[2]

The company initially announced that the truck would have a 500-mile (800-kilometer) range on a full charge and with its new batteries it would be able to run for 400 mi (650 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.[3] Tesla said at the time that they have a working prototype that uses 'a bunch' of Tesla Model 3 electric motors.[4] 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,[5][6] but left the Semi program a year later to lead one of the Model 3 general assembly lines[7] and subsequently became Tesla president of automotive in September 2018.[8] 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 claimed that the electric Semi would cost 20 ¢/mi (12 ¢/km) less to operate than a diesel truck if charged at a Megacharger, where Tesla would guarantee a price of 7 ¢/kWh (in the United States).[9][10] If the Semi is not charged at a Megacharger, the savings would depend on the cost of electricity; the high cost in California, for example, may eliminate the operating cost benefit.[10]

Two prototype Tesla Semis in Rocklin, California

In November 2017, Tesla projected that the expected price of regular production versions for the 300-mile (480 km) and 500-mile (800 km) range 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.[11]

In December 2017, Tesla held a Semi and Roadster unveiling event, where Musk stated "Production [of the semi] begins in 2019, so if you order now, you get the truck in 2 years." Musk also stated "We guarantee this truck will not break down for a million miles." The slide in the background stated "Drivetrain to last 1 million miles." This was explained by Musk as being due to the planned 4 independent electric motors - if a few should break, it should still run on down to only two motors. Musk also claimed jackknifing would be impossible due to the 4 independent motors dynamically adjusting to conditions.[12]

In March 2018, Tesla announced that the Semi was being tested with real cargo, hauling battery packs from Nevada to California.[13] In August 2018, a Tesla Semi prototype traveled from California alone—without escort or accompanying vehicles—for a week to arrive at the J. B. Hunt headquarters in Arkansas.[14][15][16]

A toy version of the Semi was released in January 2020 as part of the Matchbox Convoys line with black truck, box trailer, with a red Model S.[17] A second version was released with a silver truck, trailer with pipes, and forklift.


The first pre-orders came in the day of the press conference and by mid-January 2018 approximately 450 Semis had been pre-ordered.[18][19][20][21] The original deposit required with an order was $5,000, which was increased to $20,000 after the event in November 2017.[22] In the Q1 2018 Tesla earnings call, Musk said that there were about 2,000 total pre-orders of the Semi.[23]

Tesla Semi cockpit
Notable orders
Buyer Quantity Reported


Anheuser-Busch 40 2017-12-07 [24]
Bee'ah 50 2018-01-14 [25]
DHL Supply Chain 10 2017-11-28 [26]
FedEx 20 2018-03-26 [27]
Loblaw Companies 25 2017-11-17 [28]
PepsiCo 100 2017-12-12 [29]
Pride Group Enterprises 150 2020-11-04 [30]
Sysco 50 2017-12-08 [31]
United Parcel Service 125 2017-12-19 [32]
Walmart 45 2018-09-06 [33]
Walmart Canada 130 2020-09-29 [34]
EV Semi-Fleet Corp. 50 2022-02-02 [35][36]
Total 745


In June 2019, Tesla projected that production would begin by the end of 2020.[37] A few months later, in the October 2019 Q3 investor call, they maintained the 2020 production target, albeit in limited numbers.[38] In mid-January 2020, Tesla announced to its reservation holders a winter testing program to validate the Semi in cold weather and low-traction conditions.[39][40] A few weeks later, in the 2019 Q4 earnings call, Elon Musk commented on the lack of battery production capability as one limiting factor for the conservative Semi production timeline, choosing to use battery supply for passenger cars instead.[41][42]

In January 2021, Musk announced that Semi production would be delayed until the end of the year,[43][44] as the company ramped up high-volume production of its tabless 4680 battery cells[45] (previewed in September 2020) to meet the demand for the Semi and other vehicles.

At the 2021 Shareholder meeting, Musk announced that the production of the Semi would not start in 2021 and that it likely would slip into 2023.[46][47][48] Tesla has low rate initial production of the Semi in a warehouse outside Giga Nevada, however, actual mass production is scheduled for Austin, Texas sometime in 2023.[49][50]

November 2017 prototype and plans[edit]

In November 2017, Musk said that the Semi would be powered by four electric motors (one for each of the four driving wheels) of the type used in the Tesla Model 3,[51] with no axles or differential connecting the wheels. The mid wheels have a fixed gear ratio of 23:1 while the rear wheels are 15:1, compared to the Model 3's 9:1.[52]

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 front and driving wheels.[51] Running empty, the long-range Tesla Semi would have a range of 620 miles (997 km).[53]

Tesla said the Semi would have 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) time of 5 seconds unloaded and 20 seconds fully loaded.[10] The Semi would be able to maintain a speed of 65 mph (105 km/h) on a 5% grade.[54] The company touted a warranty for a million miles (1.6 million km) and said maintenance would be simpler than a diesel truck.[10] A month after the reveal, Tesla reduced the uphill speed spec (by 5 mph (8.0 km/h)) to 60 mph (97 km/h).[55][56] Media reports noted the lack of specification for vehicle weight, as US government rules restrict the weight of electric combined tractor-trailers[57][54] to 82,000 lb.[58]

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.[54][51] There were touchscreen displays on either side of the steering wheel, and no other instrument panels.[54] Musk said that the windshield would be explosion-proof.[54]

Tesla said that the Semi would be equipped with Enhanced Autopilot as standard equipment, offering semi-autonomous capability.[59] Using more radar devices and cameras than Tesla cars, the system would: enable the truck to stay in its lane and a safe distance from other vehicles on the highway; have emergency braking; and warn the driver of any potential hazards near the vehicle.[10] Tesla also said that new technology with active safety controls on the independent motors&wheels would detect and prevent jackknifing.[10] 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.[60] 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.[60]

Tesla Megacharger[edit]

At the November 2017 press conference Musk also stated 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).[61][60][62] To accomplish this, it will likely have an output level over one megawatt (equivalent to 1,000 amps at 1,000 volts).[63]

The first Megacharger was installed at Giga Nevada in November 2021.[64] A second Megacharger was permitted for construction at a Pepsi facility in Modesto, California.[65]

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.[66]

Some industry experts view heavy-duty freight as impractical for battery trucks due to cost and weight.[57][67][68] A senior VP at Daseke, a large trucking company, said that the limited range affected their likelihood of operating the Semi until the necessary infrastructure was in place.[69]

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,[61] some suggesting that Tesla may be betting on increased battery density advances in the next couple of years to meet its stated goals.[70]

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.[71][failed verification] The analysis estimated loads and ranges for an electric truck, given battery technologies known at that time, and published their work in June 2017.[72] 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.[72] One estimate for the battery weight, at 11,800 kg, was estimated to account for one third of the payload, and would increase the capital cost of the truck to about double that of an equivalent diesel.[73]


Other companies developing class 8 electric trucks include BYD Company,[54] Daimler AG,[74] Lion Electric Company, Kenworth,[54] Nikola Motor,[54] Peterbilt,[75] Toyota,[54] Volvo,[76] and Xos (Thor).[77][78] Other companies developing electric trucks, which are not class 8, include Cummins,[79] DAF Trucks,[80] Einride,[81] Uber,[9] and Volkswagen.[9]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]