Innovation

Tesla Semi revealed: Electric truck is semi-autonomous, has 500-mile range

Elon Musk's new tractor trailer can handle most US shipping routes on a single charge.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled his firm's fully-electric Class 8 semi truck on Thursday at a special event in Hawthorne, CA. At the same event, Musk revealed the second generation Tesla Roadster, a supercar that he said will be the "fastest production car ever."

Simply called Tesla Semi, the truck will be able to achieve a range of 500 miles on a full charge, Musk said. However, after a charge of just 30 minutes, the truck will be able to make it about 400 miles. Most freight shipments move less than 250 miles, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The truck features a sleek, modern design, with the driver seated in the middle of the cab, rather than to the left or right. A standard model and an upgraded version with an aerodynamics package will both be available, Musk said.

SEE: Tesla Semi stands to shake up the trucking industry (CNET Roadshow)

The truck is nimble, too. Without a trailer, Musk said that the truck could reach zero to 60 mph in just five seconds. When carrying the max load weight of 80,000 pounds, it can reach that speed in 20 seconds.

As with all other Teslas, the semi truck is powered by a giant battery. For the truck, though, that battery powers four independent electric motors (one for each rear wheel) that are similar to those in the Model 3, Musk said.

While not fully autonomous, the semi does feature Tesla's semi-autonomous Autopilot system. Autopilot will also be what powers the trucks' ability to move as a convoy, using a platooning method where multiple trucks follow one, human-driven leader. This could help lower operating costs.

Being that it is electric, the truck will not require drivers to shift gears, Musk noted. "I can drive this thing and I have no idea how to drive a semi," Musk said.

SEE: Tesla Semi: The big questions about costs, benefits ahead of trucking disruption (ZDNet)

Tesla's move into trucking is a risky one, but it could pay dividends if successful. If Musk and company are able to convince drivers and shippers to get on board with their vision, the adoption of these trucks could disrupt semi manufacturers, the energy sector, and the lives of the drivers themselves.

The full drivetrain of the truck will be guaranteed up to one million miles. Pricing has not yet been announced. According to Bloomberg, the grocery chain Meijer has already reserved four of the trucks, with a deposit of $5,000 per truck. And, as Reuters reported, trucking company J.B. Hunt has also reserved some Tesla semi trucks.

At the event, Musk also unveiled the new Tesla Roadster, promising a zero to 60 mph time of 1.9 seconds. The car will have a range of 620 miles, will be able to reach a top speed of more than 250 mph, and will cost $200,000.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Elon Musk revealed Tesla's fully-electric semi truck, which features its Autopilot system and a full range of 500 miles.
  2. With no trailer, the truck can reach zero to 60 mph in just five seconds, while it can do it in 20 seconds with a max load of 80,000 pounds.
  3. Musk also unveiled a new Tesla Roadster, with a top speed of over 250 mph and a $200,000 price tag.

Also see

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Image: Tesla

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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