The era of electric trucks is here: soon they will - hopefully - be a common thing everywhere. The roads will be filled with emission-free heavy-duty vehicles capable of fulfilling any required task. The first models, from many different brands – both legacy and new - are already hitting the roads, but few have attracted as much social media attention and as many headlines as the Tesla Semi. Tesla's electric truck will begin to reach customers this very week, but before that happens Elon Musk himself has just confirmed the official range figures and capacity, surprising everyone: is what he has just announced true?
The truth is that we have no reason to doubt about what the South African tycoon says either, although we do know from experience that he sometimes has a tendency to exaggerate figures or be overly optimistic with them. Some time ago Musk himself assured that the actual range of the Tesla Semi would be around 500 miles (about 800 kilometers), although at that time he specified that it would be calculated with a light load, that is, nothing at all as compared to the tremendous load capacity that is finally expected, around 82,000 pounds (about 37 tons) gross weight capacity.
In one of the last tests before the first units are delivered - an event that will take place this week, next December 1 in a large soiree at the Austin plant - the range data has been confirmed, but in this case The test has been carried out at almost full load capacity. According to Elon Musk, a Tesla Semi has traveled a whopping more than 500 miles without any recharging with a combined weight of 81,000 pounds (36,740 kg.); that is, it basically almost reached the maximum capacity stipulated for the truck.
We do not actually have any real doubt about the test or the results, but such data prompts us to ask a couple of important questions; the first one being: what battery capacity does the Semi have? According to the company (and calculated using Km instead of miles) the electric truck has a 1.24/kWh consumption for each kilometer traveled, which means that there are 124/kWh for every 100 kilometers completed. Assuming that the range data is 800 kilometers and doing a quick math we get to see that the battery capacity is close to 1,000 kWh, or 1 MWh of capacity, the largest battery that has been installed in a vehicle of these characteristics so far.
With such a figure on the table the next question that arises is: how much will the Tesla Semi finally cost? It is clear that the prices of trucks have nothing to do with those of cars, but in this case we can think that the cost will easily be several hundred thousand dollars, in a conservative forecast. At the time of launch it was speculated that a starting price of $150,000 for the standard autonomy version would be the actual tag price, while the extended autonomy unit, the 500-miles one, would be at around $180,000. Taking into account that a Tesla Model X with a much smaller battery costs $143,000, either the price will finally be much higher or the Tesla Semi is a complete bargain.
The moment of truth will come soon; deliveries begin right now (this very week), although Tesla wants to take it easy for the first few months. The Reno and Nevada plants are already producing the first units, and Tesla hopes that by 2024 they can reach 50,000 deliveries in one year, although for the coming year they want to deliver 100 vehicles. Those first units will mark the capacity of the Tesla Semi in real environments, and early customers like PepsiCo will put the data to the test. We will be very attentive to the first reports of the results.
All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.
Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.