This week Tesla pulled the sheets off of the Semi truck they’ve been working on, and it’s a beaut’:
We were curious to see what the company would do in terms of design, given that the electric powerplant obviates the need to follow a typical semi’s form factor. Tesla has taken a cue from their passenger cars and given the cab a much lower center of gravity. They’ve also shaved the nose down to almost nothing, giving the driver an unobstructed view of the road. As you can see in this shot, if you were to trace the driver’s eyeline past the bottom of the windshield, it would end in street, not hood.
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The swoopy shape gives it a drag coefficient roughly half of a diesel cab–and is just about on par with a freaking Bugatti Chiron.
For the Semi, perhaps a better term than “driver” would be “pilot.” Tesla has opted for a centrally-mounted seat, for better visibility, they say.
The steering wheel is flanked by two touchscreens, with the one on the left controlling vehicle functions and the one on the right handling navigation and communication duties.
There’s a fold-up passenger seat behind and to the right of the driver’s seat, for picking up runaways and such.
The cab is tall enough to stand up in, and a bit on the stubby side–there is no sleeper cab. That’s because the Semi, which has a range of 500 miles, is apparently aimed at the short-haul market; in a press release, Tesla points out that “nearly 80% of freight in the U.S. is moved less than 250 miles.”
While it’s not fully autonomous–yet–the company states that “Tesla Semi can also travel in a convoy, where one or several Semi trucks will be able to autonomously follow a lead Semi.” That’s good news for shippers looking to keep costs down, and bad news for truck drivers looking for work.
Lastly, the vehicle’s performance stats are downright absurd:
Without a trailer, the Tesla Semi achieves 0-60 mph in five seconds, compared to 15 seconds in a comparable diesel truck. It does 0-60 mph in 20 seconds with a full 80,000-pound load, a task that takes a diesel truck about a minute. Most notably for truck drivers and other travelers on the road, it climbs 5% grades at a steady 65 mph, whereas a diesel truck maxes out at 45 mph on a 5% grade. The Tesla Semi requires no shifting or clutching for smooth acceleration and deceleration, and its regenerative braking recovers 98% of kinetic energy to the battery, giving it a basically infinite brake life.
The Semi will reportedly roll out next year.