Tesla Unveils Its "Mind-Blowing" Semi And New Roadster, The "Fastest Production Car Ever Made"

Tyler Durden's picture

Update 2: there were some rumors of a surprise during tonight's presentation, and Musk did not disappoint when just as the semi-introduction was ending, Tesla also unveiled a new Roadster, the new version of its original sports car. According to Musk, It’s the fastest production car ever made, with speeds of just 1.9 seconds for 0 to 60 and 4.2 seconds for 0 to 100. It can handle a quarter mile in 8.9 seconds.

“This is the base model,” Musk said, then went on to mention that its top speed is above 250 mph. and it has a 200 kWh battery pack that offers 630 miles of highway driving range.

* * *

Update 1: this is what the new Semi truck, which Tesla will give a 1 million mile guarantee for, looks like:

* * *

Tonight's the night!! In what has been promised to "blow your mind," Elon Musk will unveil an all-electric Class 8 semi truck.

In the works for two years, it’s a project that’s aimed squarely at cleaning up the freight industry, which accounts for one-fifth of global oil demand... and which Goldman Sachs has warned will cost 300,000 jobs per year.

As Bloomberg notes, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has promised a truck that will “out-torque any diesel semi” and drive “like a sports car.” Seeing what an all-electric semi is capable of may be the most entertaining part of the night, even if it’s not a key metric for Tesla’s trucking customers.

“If you had a tug-of-war competition,” Musk bragged at a Ted Talk in April, “the Tesla Semi will tug the diesel semi uphill.”

The show is due to start at 8pmPT, 11pmET.

If the transmission is interrupted, readers can go to Tesla’s website by clicking the image below...

Here's what to watch for - including some potential wild cards (via Bloomberg)

1. How Long Is Long Range?

The range of any electric vehicle is the critical metric—it defines how the vehicle can be used and the size of its potential market. Five years ago, few would have thought that a long-range heavy duty-truck was even possible. That’s changing fast. Daimler, the leader in Class 8 diesel trucks, recently unveiled a 220-mile range electric big rig, establishing a new bar for the industry. Long-range hauling across vast stretches of the U.S. would likely require more than 500 miles of range.

2. At What Cost?

Batteries are the single most expensive component of any electric truck, and the battery of a cross-country hauler could cost $100,000 even before you build the truck around it. The sticker price, regardless of size, is going to be higher than its diesel equivalent because of those pricey batteries.

Can Tesla keep the upfront price low enough to be offset by cheaper operating costs from fuel savings and simpler maintenance? Tesla may provide such figures, though many fleet operators will want to put them to the test with hundreds of thousands of road miles before they’ll be convinced.

Source: Bloomberg analysis

3. Platooning on Autopilot

Will the truck, expected to roll out by 2020, come with some level of autonomous driving? Tesla has been in talks with California and Nevada regulators about testing semis that can automatically follow a lead vehicle, a technique known as “platooning.” Platooning cuts fuel costs by reducing wind drag. And if the autonomous driving system is good enough to run without a driver, it could also dramatically cut labor expenses.

A teaser animation released by Tesla on Wednesday suggests the realization of one of Musk’s design aspirations: cameras instead of side door mirrors.


4. Who Are the First Customers?

The biggest players in freight are good at keeping their trucks in top driving condition and averse to messing with the supply chain. Convincing companies like Swift, Ryder, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to bring an electric drivetrain into their fleets will be a tough sell. Musk says Tesla has been gathering feedback from trucking companies throughout the development process (at least one, Ryder, confirmed it), so it would be a good sign if Tesla comes out of the gate with some early partnerships.

It could be that Musk’s own empire will be the first demonstration customer of the big rig. Tesla’s automotive reach is growing, and its SolarCity arm is the biggest rooftop solar installer in the U.S. Musk's SpaceX could potentially use the vehicles to transport rockets, satellites, capsules, and equipment.

During earlier unveilings of Tesla’s passenger cars—the Models S, X and 3—the company started taking paid reservations immediately, at least 18 months before the first deliveries. Is that a strategy that can work with commercial trucks? How long until the first rigs hit the road?

A new 40-stall Supercharger station and customer lounge opens in Kettleman, California.

Source: Tesla

5. Infrastructure Solutions

A lot of infrastructure goes into servicing big rigs. Truck stops line the world’s highways, and fleet operators stand by with mountains of replacement parts ready to fix anything that might go wrong. How does Tesla plan to deal with these hurdles? Will they introduce a whole new type of charging system, with ultrafast chargers or a robot that swaps out used batteries for fresh ones? Who will build out and operate the charging network? Who handles maintenance and roadside assistance?

6. Location, Location, Location

Tesla’s car factory in Fremont, California, is running out of room. Musk wants to build 500,000 electric passenger cars there next year, and even if he misses that goal by half, it’s very unlikely Tesla would be able to squeeze in a big rig assembly line. Tesla’s massive battery factory near Reno, Nevada, which is still under construction, seems like a more natural fit. That factory is also where Tesla makes electric motors and drivetrains—primary components for an electric semi.

7. “Driver Comfort Features”

In a profile in this week’s Rolling Stone, Musk hinted at an unspecified “driver comfort feature” that he’s fond of. “Probably no one will buy it because of this,” he said, “but if you’re going to make a product, make it beautiful.” One possibility? A sweet coffee maker. In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Musk joked that the truck “can transform into a robot, fight aliens and make one hell of a latte.”

The Model 3 motor sits in line with the wheel axle. The semi will use multiple Model 3 engines in tandem to power the big rig semi trucks.

Source: Tesla

8. Shared Parts

Perhaps Tesla’s biggest advantage over other truck makers is that its Semi will share some core parts with its first mass-market car, the Model 3. Musk disclosed during an earnings call in May that the Semi uses “a bunch” of Model 3 motors, which sit in line with the truck’s axles. These relatively cheap electric motors will give the Semi unparalleled electric torque for getting quickly up to speed with a heavy load.

Tesla’s foray into commercial trucking is coming at an impossibly tough time for the company. The Model 3 is already months behind schedule, and Tesla is spending $1 billion a quarter to get things cranking.

But if Musk can get Model 3 production lines up to their promised rates, and the motors and battery cells are truly interchangeable between the Semi and the new passenger car, the scale of those operations would be profound. While traditional diesel truck makers are testing truck-suitable electric motors by the hundreds, Tesla could be making them by the hundreds of thousands—even before its first big rig hits the road.

*  *  *

Tesla shares have been on the downtrend since mid-September...

So this event could be just what Musk needs to turn things around and distract investors from the massive cash burn the company is suffering while hand-making Model 3s...

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
jmack's picture

    It will also blow you, and not call the cops afterwards.   

Gap Admirer's picture

220 mile range. What's the average haul distance for an 18 wheeler?  And how long does this thing have to be plugged in before getting to return?

I can see electric working well for UPS/FedEx delivery trucks in town.  Drive 100 to 150 miles all day, recharge overnight, repeat.  But an 18 wheeler?

IH8OBAMA's picture

This is all we need.  20 ton tractor trailer rigs driving around like sports cars and the batteries blowing up like bombs.


Hal n back's picture

btw--the 300k jobs from GS is tied to the driverless  longhaul truck.

GUS100CORRINA's picture

Observation: This whole EV mania comes down to the answer of one single question:

What is the TOTAL COST of OWNERSHIP per mile which wouild include initial investment (cost to purchase plus government subsidies) plus ongoing expenses?

I think one will find that the answer to this question will be the determining factor as to whether or not the EV technlogy is viable with all the POLITICS and BULLSHIT aside.

jimmy12345's picture

The TCO of an EV semi is 22% lower than a diesel truck according to Tesla's presentation.   

in4mayshun's picture

The sports car does sub 9 sec quarter miles??? I'm calling BS! Unless they also come equipped with racing slicks, launch control, and electronic traction control. That transmission better be built like a NASCAR's or it will grenade after a few thousand miles.

Pinto Currency's picture

Battery operated electrical vehicles will only capture a small fraction of the market - Tesla has made a losing bet.

They cannot get away from the fact that due to line and generation losses, only ~5% of hydrocarbon energy used to generate electricity is converted into motion.

Doesn't matter how fantastic the batteries are, the losses producting and transporting the electrical energy to the battery are fixed. 

Watch fuel cells - a reformer in the garage can produce compressed hydrogen from nat gas and trillions will not be needed to be spent on the electrical grid.

TheRedScourge's picture

Fuel cell tech would be great if it didn't make the car cost $250,000

As for the power grid and 5%, haven't you noticed that only 5% of gasoline's energy is converted into forward motion, and that Tesla bought Solarcity, so they can generate power wherever it's needed and deliver it straight to the car, rather than send it hundreds of miles down a wire?


Not saying Tesla can do no wrong, just saying your arguments against it are pitiful.

Pinto Currency's picture

Gasoline engines are 30+% energy converted to motion.

Diesel is 40+% energy converted to motion.

You are 'just sayin' indeed. But just saying something doesn't make it true.

Ballard's fuel cell does not cost $250k.

Laowei Gweilo's picture

yup. lots of time to make fun of shitty Tesla manufacturing chains later

but on paper, and well, in demo form, at least ... the demi is pretty awesome. not 'gonna-replace-everything' awesome but the sort of awesome that will start a replace-everything ten years later


and ho lee fuk at dat roadster doe o.0


oncemore's picture

The worst 2stroke engines have 10%.

Where does your number stem from

EddieLomax's picture

Hydrogen fuel cells have a lot more problems then even electric batteries.

First they wear our depressingly fast.

They use extremely rare metals that make their widespread adoption difficult if not impoossible.

Hydrogen as the smallest element will leak all over the place.

Moe Hamhead's picture

The Bloomberg table above doesn't account fact the fact that "total weight" for trucks is regulated.  I can already imagine them parked at the state-line scales, waiting for the relief truck to unload that extra cargo.  The payback metrics don't include "reduced payload" from the batteries. 

That said, I would welcome them in our neighborhood as FedEx delivery vans, replacing the noisy diesels they have now.

fattail's picture

It really will only take the adoption of a small amount of electric vehicles, maybe 5-10%, and it will tank the energy markets.  It seems that the cash grab in Saudi Arabia may be the first evidence that the muslim dictators of the world have done the math.

I personally relish the idea of the death of the petro dollar if it destroys the people who sell oil.

RockySpears's picture

Teslas do not have transmissions (Gearboxes) do they?



jcaz's picture

He's using the "Nazis bombed Pearl Harbor" line of reasoning- don't interupt him when he's on a roll......

MK13's picture

Can you imagine demand for these semis on London bridge or Sweden? That's exactly what libtards need.

Bobportlandor's picture

I agree around town is doable, but for long haul Electrifying the choo-choo would be much easier.

Take the cars add electric drive wheels and send them on their way as singles or any combination you wish.

No batteries required.

yogibear's picture

So when does Musk do the suitcases of cocain running to support his company like John DeLorean?

Troll Magnet's picture

when does this welfare queen company go bankrupt?

kellys_eye's picture

Give those trucks enough battery power to get to the nearest train station and on to the back of a rail car.  That's the only way they'll get diesel-equivalent mileage out of them.

Tesla road mileage claims against REAL WORLD mileage differ by up to 60% - I have no reason to doubt trucks will be the same.

As for maintenacne costs.... ONE dud battery and you're bust.

Moe Hamhead's picture

The locomotive is now, and has been for many years, already electric.  It's called 'diesel-electric' power. The diesel engine runs electric traction motors at the wheels.

Solosides's picture

Whats the real range with a full 60,000 lb load while going 60 mph?

jimmy12345's picture

with a full load doing highway speeds, the real range is 500 miles.

youngman's picture

I would like to see one going over Vail pass in a big snowstorm.....

kralizec's picture

It will make a nice shelter for a while when the grid goes down after the EMP...


TheRedScourge's picture

Semis are actually quite fuel efficient; once you get that weight up to that speed, you're not burning a lot of energy just keeping it going. What really hurts it is stop and go driving. But even then, it's the "go" part that causes the problems, since they have regenerative braking.

not dead yet's picture

Full load, including the weight of the big rig truck and tractor, is 80,000 lbs. A battery in a Tesla S is around 1200 lbs and 2 of these would be more than the weight of the drivetrain and 100 gallons of fuel in a diesel rig. With a Model S battery going for $10,000 one could guess the rig would need 10 of them, if they are correct in the $100,000 pricing, and multiple motors needed the Tesla rig would be much heavier and would cut the payload by at least 10 to 15 thousand lbs. A deal killer. Very small profit margins in trucking and going electric will need huge outlays of cash. Unless the government mandates truck stops put in chargers, which they won't on their own until lots of rigs are on the road, charging will be a problem. Battery switch at truck stops is a non starter due to the investment and no long haul trucker is going to take the chance of getting someone elses shot battery. Trailers that go on rail cars are delivered by truckers, not the railroad, to and from the rail yard, so the railroad puts seals on the tires and usually paint because truckers would steal the good tires and put junkers on. Those with bad batteries would love to get yours in exchange. The real killer would be the government would finally wake up to the fact that electrics pay no road use taxes and would put levies on all electrics, car or truck, to make up for lost revenue which would eat up most or all the so called savings. Due to the liability factor of who pays for damaged or stolen freight there will be no driverless trucks as hijacking will become rampant without a driver. Where you can make out is a one driver can operate a truck 24/7 and only stop for fuel and food.

Besides the government handouts and overpriced stock, Tesla has been able to stay in business due to investments by Toyota and Panasonic and others. Besides cash Toyota supposedly gave Tesla the Fremont plant for free. It's Panasonic technology for the batteries, which Tesla gets the credit for, and it's Panasonic that's put in bucks for the battery plant and supervised it's construction. You can bet any original loans or bond issue for the battery plant had Panasonic guarantee them. The State of New York built a plant, for free, for Solar City where Panasonic is going to build their own solar panels as Solar City doesn't have the money or the expertise to build panels on their own. Point is the electric truck is going to need a huge investment of cash and they don't have any experience building this kind of vehicle. Tesla can't even get cars built which means it won't happen unless they get an experienced big rig partner.


effendi's picture

The increased weight of an electric truck reducing the tonnage of cargo is only important for certain cargoes. Many (perhaps the majority) of cargoes are well under the maximum permissable load (never seen a Fedex truck busting its suspension). So the rollout of electric trucks will start with companies that have lighter products (everything from farm produce such as lettuce and broccoli to manufactured goods such as toilet paper) and shorter routes. Might only ever be a niche market but even that might be a few hundred thousand trucks/year in the US, Europe, Japan etc.

Just Another Vietnam Vet's picture


So it will be Truck parks full of Tractors charging overnight....................  NO PROBLEM, eh ?

 Just a little change in the infrastructure and adding a new power plant here at there.

Oh, and looks like obsolescence is right around the corner.



RockySpears's picture

Solar City????  Are you serious?  Do you know how big a solar panel you would need for just a single truck recharge?

No, solar is no answer, especially at night or on a cloudy day, or the panels have snow/dew on them,

Power distribution is the killer for EV at the moment.

Now, if you can get small, nuclear stations at each refuel point, you may have something,



EddieLomax's picture

Solid cell batteries seems like the killer solution, Dyson have gone all in on it so they must honestly believe their money is well spent.  There are some hitches though in that the academics have said its at least 5 years from market and the construction involved thin film depositing, so an extremely slow manufacture process which needs to be made fast and cheap to produce an affordable battery.

Otherwise I'd see these in small portable devices, or big military ones.

Max Cynical's picture

I'm sure Musk is a smart guy...but he's an absolute control freak. I'll never understand why he wants to be in the manufacturing business rather than licensing this technology to EXISTING legacy manufacturers.

BeanusCountus's picture

Agree. The new car is worth about $50k. Mass produced. What's he asking?

MK13's picture

He will ask $100k for vehicle that costs $200k to make - but he will make up the difference with high sales volume.

mkkby's picture

Meanwhile toyota quietly makes boatloads of cash selling the highly reliable prius for 1/3 the price. Those smart japs realized 20 years that full electric was a long way off. My money will be on them in 10-20 years when full electrics MIGHT start to make sense.

For those of you planning on spending north of $80k for a tesla... YOU'VE BEEN MUSKED.

jimmy12345's picture

He started Tesla to accelarate the advent of electric vehicles because he believe the big automakers weren't moving fast enough on electric vehicles.   

konputa's picture

Now we know you're a fan boy. Musk wasn't the founder of Tesla. Eberhard and Tarpenning were the founders and they were pushed out of their company by Musk.

not dead yet's picture

The other automakers weren't making any because there is no market for electrics. Take your time and when the market is there you're ready. Plus we don't know how many cars Tesla really sells. Musko said they were going to decrease the S and X production by 10% to put people on the 3 line. If you really had the orders why shaft even more customers. Plus, and no one caught this, Musk said the 10% reduction would help decrease the inventory. Tesla claims they don't build stock but Musk admitted they did. So how many of those in transit to customer vehicles that Musk claimed at the end of previous quarters were really unsold stock. Just like a year ago to meet sales, that Musk claimed were booming, Tesla offered strippo models with a price reduction. If the sales were there this would not be necessary. Same as when a few months back Tesla lowered their prices claiming production efficiencies. If that was true and the sales were booming a real business person would not lower the price as Tesla needs every buck it can get.

True Blue's picture

I shouldn't even say this, but if you buy the vehicle and pay a massive core deposit on the batteries, it would keep the initial sticker cost down. Then, it would make sense to partner somebody like T&A or another major truck stop franchise to simply change out the batteries with fresh ones instead of recharging as if you were refueling. I'd build the batteries on a wheeled rack that lowers to the ground and is wheeled away and the replacement is wheeled in and installed in 2 minutes flat, or the 'driver' parks on something like a set of scales and some autonomous system changes them out.
I wonder if the trailer is powered too?

not dead yet's picture

I get it. Walmart will carry the batteries and sell them 3 for dollar so the truckers can load up on them. At 100 grand a pop no truck stop is going to stock any and no trucker is going to want to get someone elses junk battery. Do you think the trucking companies are going to spring for a bunch of extra batteries for each truck and spread them around truck stops. Unless the government mandates it no truck stop is going to put in chargers, or battery swap equipment until a bunch of rigs are on the road. Or do the trucking companies spring for the chargers and swap equipment at the truck stops which would kill the deal.

effendi's picture

Nothing stopping the bigger freight companies having their own depots every few hundred miles and swapping their own batteries. System worked for Cobb & Co with stagecoach horse teams or the Pony Express for fresh mounts. Easy to recharge spare batteries overnight (excess cheap off-peak power from conventional sources) or from whenever the wind is blowing hard and the power is cheap. Walmart might even have recharging equipment at their distribution centres and stores loading docks to top up trucks when they are being unloaded.

hibou's picture

So you mean a driver doesn't stop after four hours to piss out all the drugs they're on?

This is a really fantastic start, just wish they would build an electric hybrid tractor. High torque electric motors would be awesome for farmers, and economic for road work.

TheRedScourge's picture

They'd never build a hybrid tractor. Hybrid is terrible, it only works for small cars where power isn't important. Full electric works great for large vehicles that do a lot of sitting around, because electric vehicles don't idle. Especially if you can put solar panels on it.

chiswickcat's picture

Ever had to wait for a rig to re-fuel. They take forever. I imagine longer than a battery swap would take.

youngman's picture

Yeah but the go into the cafe and have a great Hot turkey sandwich with the yellow gravy