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Musk Unveils Tesla Electric Commercial Truck

Tesla’s much anticipated “semi” was finally unveiled last week in Hawthorne, Calif.

As reported by Truck News, CEO Elon Musk extolled the performance features of the semi: a range of 500 miles, zero to 60 mph of the tractor in just five seconds, zero to 60 of a fully freighted, 80,000-lb tractor-trailer in just 30 seconds. He boasted a cost per mile of US$1.25, compared to today’s diesel truck cost of $1.51. He did not specify the trade cycle or the structure of the financing but did say that Tesla was aiming for zero breakdowns in a million miles of operation.

According to Internet reports, truckload carrier J.B. Hunt is among the first carriers to publicly reveal it has reserved “multiple Tesla semis.”

In reality, the reveal confirmed what the spy and tease photos had already disclosed: a cab forward Class 8 truck with exceptional smooth lines and promised great aerodynamic performance, a fact highlighted in Musk’s remarks. He said that the 500-mile range was enabled by exceptional aerodynamics, with the semi scoring a drag coefficient of 0.36. He also noted the cab side extenders that actively fill the gap between tractor and trailer also contribute to the overall low drag.

The trucks will most likely fill a distribution and drayage role, at least in the early stages. The semi is purely battery-electric.

In his presentation, Musk said that 80% of truck distribution is less than 500 miles round-trip, so the semi can get out and back on those tasks on a single charge. For longer trips, the batteries can pick up a 400-mile charge in the short half-hour break mandated by hours-of-service regulations.

The truck is also equipped with the full Tesla accident avoidance technology that prevents collisions and keeps the truck in-lane. It also includes Tesla’s autonomous driving technology, and enables three-truck platooning, said Musk.

Rob Penner, chief executive officer of Bison, told Trucknews.com “I was down in Santa Clara earlier and was able to test drive the Tesla “mule” (Tesla tech in a Cascadia) and the performance was really impressive. They have been running this truck for about a year moving their own parts in and out of Nevada with very good performance data. Add the styling and safety features in their own ground-up truck design and one can’t help but be optimistic about the future of this technology. We look forward to getting our hands on these trucks once they become available.”

Loblaw also acknowledged in a Tweet that it has placed an order for the trucks.

“As part of our recent commitment to electrify our fleet, we have been in discussions with Tesla,” the company tweeted. “We’ve placed an order for a number of trucks and will have them in Canada as soon as they’re available.”

– Read the full review here.

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