It turns out that not only the energy industry needs revolutionizing. Elon Musk also wants to do that with the trucking industry.
Musk oversaw the launch of four electric vehicles – and each and every individual vehicle – step by step brought the technology closer to a mass consumer market. They decided though that this year, they are going to take a decisive step forward and apply the same thing to – and you guessed it – the commercial transport industry.
There is although, scepticism surrounding the whole idea of a semi-truck. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University – back in June – said that if a vehicle of those proportions would be made, it will have low range, high price and little to no space for cargo.
“The challenge is on par in difficulty level with electric airplanes,” Venkat Viswanathan, a co-author of the study, told Wired.
All eyes are on Tesla and Musk to see whether they can pull it off. Here’s what we know about the vehicle so far:
It will launch in September
Shareholders were told, on the company’s annual meeting that, Tesla would be unveiling a prototype vehicle by the end of the month.
It will hit the roads in 2019
It was also stated that, an indication was given by Musk on when the vehicle can hit the road:
“We will probably reach scale production on the semi in about two years,” he said. “Maybe 18 months, but probably about two years.”
It sounds like a long timespan, but it’s par for the course when it comes to Tesla. The Model 3, which entered production in June, was originally outlined in the company’s 2006 master plan, and the final name for the vehicle was announced in July 2014.
It will be built with autonomy in mind
The goal that they are pursuing is, to eliminate the driver. At his talk at TED 2017 in Vancouver – Musk outlined a frame in which he believes truck drivers will be obsolete and that they will transition into a “fleet manager” role, which will oversee a number of vehicles, instead of just driving one.
This vision faces roadblocks, though. The state of California prohibits heavy autonomous vehicles over 10,000 pounds for testing purposes, a ban Tesla wants lifted.
It will use a lot of Tesla Model 3 components
Tesla Model 3 will be the baseline of parts for the truck – outlined Musk at the company’s first-quarter 2017 earnings call.
“Most of that semi is actually made out of Model 3 parts, by the way,” Musk said. “It’s using a bunch of Model 3 motors. We’re revealing too much about the future of it but … we’re able to use a very high-volume vehicle and then combine several motors to have something that I think is actually going to have a very good gross margin.”
Why is this important? Because Tesla is gonna kick the production of the Model 3 into overdrive just to meet the rate of 10000 cars per week at some point in 2018. It’s only logical from every perspective that that kind of manufacturing technique can’t be possible with a traditional truck, thus it will give Tesla and advantage.
It will drive like a sports car
Because the parts are centred around the Model 3 – it will be hard to be driven like a regular truck. Musk drove around in one in a parking lot – he said during his TED talk – and his words:
“This will be a very spry truck,” he said. “You can drive it around like a sports car.”
It will have a range of between 200 and 300 miles
A report from Reuters last month claimed that Tesla is targeting a range of around 200 and 300 miles, covering the low end of long-haul trucking requirements. Some conventional diesel trucks can run as far as 1,000 miles on a single tank of gas, though, meaning it could be a tough sell.
What do you think it will look like? Drop a comment below with thoughts.