Musk Celebrates New Tesla Semi-Truck


Tesla Pepsi Co. and Frito Lay Semi Trucks | Image by Tesla

Elon Musk announced that Tesla has delivered the first electric semi-truck to Pepsi Co.

“Sorry for the delay,” Musk told a group of onlookers at Tesla’s production facility in Sparks, Nevada, on December 1. The Tesla CEO and proud new owner of Twitter was in town to mark the delivery of the new Tesla Semi to its first customer, Pepsi Co.

The world caught its first glimpse at the fully electric big rig five years ago. While the current milestone provides the electric vehicle (EV) maker a cause for celebration, it is still being determined how many trucks have been produced. It has still yet to be clarified at what rate the electric rigs will be made in the future.

Drivers of the unique semi-trailer will sit in the center of the cab, a departure from the typical arrangement where they would be seated on one side or the other. The truck will accelerate faster than traditional diesel semi-trucks, fully loaded or not, the manufacturer claimed.

According to Musk, the Tesla Semi is not only faster than other trucks, but it is also easier to drive. The electric big rig lacks a multi-gear transmission, reducing the burden on the driver.

The company states that the semi-truck can reach 500 miles on a single charge. Most of the time, the vehicle will utilize only one of its three motors, with the remaining two reserved for acceleration or hauling heavy loads of up to 82,000 pounds.

Some details, like the refill time for their new “megawatt” ultra-fast chargers, remain a mystery. According to Musk, these charges will be available for sale once the much smaller Cybertruck eventually hits the market.

Dan Priestley, Tesla’s senior manager tor truck engineering, says the regenerative braking system used in EVs that slows the vehicle while simultaneously recharging the battery will help improve the safety of the Semi. Drivers will not be required to downshift while descending long hills, and in some cases, Priestley suggested, will not even need to use the brakes at all.

Noticeably absent from the presentation celebrating the deliveries were details of the Tesla Autopilot system, initially promoted as one of the advantages of a vehicle built for covering long distances.

During the presentation, Musk highlighted the benefits of displacing diesel-powered trucks with electric, which the American Lung Association claims could save tens of thousands of lives.

According to Musk, roughly 200,000 semi-trucks operate in the U.S.

While “it seems like a small percentage” compared to the 15 million active passenger vehicles, he said, the semi-trucks emit a disproportionately large quantity of emissions due to their size, weight, and the long periods they spend on the road.

In 2020, 59% of ozone and particle-forming nitrogen oxide emissions in transportation came from medium and heavy-duty vehicles, like delivery vans and long-haul trucks, despite only occupying roughly 6% of America’s on-road fleet, according to the American Lung Association.

Musk also touted the reduction in noise that would benefit people living near highways frequented by large and traditionally loud semi-trucks.

Since the company first revealed its prototype in 2017, other companies, like Renault and Daimler, have launched their own electric semi-trucks. According to Tesla, however, its Semi will possess superior charging and range versus its competitors.

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