The EV market is rapidly growing and Tesla is leading the way. After dominating the passenger-driven electric vehicle market, Tesla is all set up to mark its footprint in the semi-truck segment with all-electric architecture. The official announcement is due on December 1st, 2022, but given the current global situation, where power outages are getting worse, and the risk of recession is at its highest- is Tesla’s billion dollars investment going to be a success?
All-electric vehicle demand is now at an all-time high. From high-end luxury sports cars to semi-trailers every car manufacturer is trying to build new infrastructure for the mass production of EVs. Renowned brands like Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, Jaguar, and Ford are planning to move their whole catalog into the electric vehicle by the end of the year 2030. In 2016, Elon Musk first shared his vision of bringing fully-electric trucks from Tesla, and at an event in 2019, we got to know their lineup for EV trucks. After 3 long years, this December Tesla will unveil all their semi-truck models. When the world is on the verge of global recession, and constant hike in electricity price is making power shortage a common issue, it’ll be interesting to see how Tesla is going to ensure mass production along with building a totally new infrastructure to support these EV trucks. So, let’s discuss how Tesla is managing to launch new EV segments and what obstacles they might face moving forward.
After sharing his vision of a zero-emission freight-hauling cargo machine, in 2017 Elon Musk dropped two concept trucks and they looked very promising. By the end of 2019, we get to know what these trucks will be capable of and by the year 2022, Tesla is promised to deliver their trucks. Initially, it was announced that 15 semi-electric trucks are expected to be delivered. At that time Tesla was trying to hit the goal of 5 trucks per week, but in October 2022, Elon Musk said, they’re aiming to hit 50,000 cars produced by 2024- that’s a huge leap! So, it’s safe to say that Tesla has increased their production efforts to meet the goal.
For truck drivers, the range and payload are the main priorities. So, Tesla is planning to bring two battery versions in both tri-motor and quad-motor variants. One will provide 300 miles and another will deliver 500 miles per charge and they will be able to withstand payloads of up to 82,000 lbs. These trucks are designed to have better aerodynamics, that’ll help them to achieve an incredible range. With an ergonomic build design, Tesla semi-trucks will have 0.36 drag coefficient, which is even better than Bugatti Chiron (0.38 drag coefficient), a full-fledged sports car! And when we’re comparing it with a sports car, we have to talk about the speed. Tesla said these trucks will get to a speed from 0 to 60 mph in 20 seconds while fully loaded. Without the payload, it’ll drop down to only 5 seconds, whereas regular diesel trucks take 15 seconds. These trucks will have the same motors as Tesla Model 3, where each motor will be producing 258hp, totaling over 1000hp with tri and quad motors.
Charge And Cost
Tesla said these semi-trucks are being made while keeping the driver’s safety and the efficiency of the journey in mind. In the USA, truck drivers are legally required to take a 30-minute break after 8 hours of continuous driving. It usually takes 400 miles to drive in 8 hours. Tesla says their semi-trucks will be able to cover the required distance and then the driver can charge the truck and continue the journey. Elon said the vast majority of highway routes are under approximately 250 miles, so charge won’t even be an issue. These semi-trucks will have a fast-charging ability, which takes 30 minutes to charge the motors up to 70%. If we take a look into cost per mile, Tesla shared a comparison with a diesel engine and according to their analysis, a Tesla semi-truck will cost you $1.26 per mile, whereas any diesel engine costs up to $1.51 per mile. The price of both gasoline and electricity is going up day by day, so now is not the right time to bet on any of these analytics. Gas stations are built in every corner of the country over many decades and Tesla needs to build a whole new charging station network to compete in the long-haul drive segment. The official announcement is knocking at the door but is Tesla ready to launch already?
A few years back, Tesla filed an application in the Texas controller office, where they described a lithium hydroxide refining facility that could process raw Ore into a usable state for battery production. Tesla stated that they will begin construction as soon as the grant is received and will begin production in 2022. After permissions were granted, Austin was chosen by Tesla as the location in July 2020. It was said to be the world’s largest lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility when the gigafactory was constructed. This factory is currently producing Tesla Cybertruck and Semi-truck as well as Model 3 and Model Y for the western US. To meet the production goal, and deliver the cars on time, Tesla invested almost 7 billion dollars into the gigafactory.
According to Bloomberg’s report, by 2030, electrifying a typical gas station will probably require as much power as a professional stadium and it’s only for passenger vehicles. So, we get a sense of how much power it will require to cover additional long-haul trucks. Tesla Semis will feature a massive battery pack that would require more charging time and faster-charging speeds. Also, high-voltage lines will be connected to the transformers which are extremely robust. To tackle this, Tesla introduced the Megachargers, a network of Solar-powered Megachargers at truck rest stops across the U.S. and Europe. These mega chargers will offer high-capacity charging and will be able to handle high current loads.
In the truck/semi-truck scene, there’re many established manufacturers like Freightliner, Kenworth, and Peterbilt. Freightliner alone sells over 190,000 trucks every year. Daimler was the first truck car company to make EV trucks for intercity. So, to tap into the market and make its own place Tesla has to do more than just make an EV version of semi-trucks. Tesla is making sure to get extra mileage in every aspect. They’re also introducing Tesla autopilot here, which enables partially automated highway driving. So, feature-wise Tesla semi-trucks are ahead of other makers. Competition is crucial to make the EV scene successful. Because more competition means more EV cars. More EV care means more country-wide infrastructural changes to support those vehicles. It’s a win-win situation for all the manufacturers.
Tesla and other car manufacturers, who’re going full swing into building all-electric vehicles, have asked the government to invest in building the whole infrastructure. According to the reports, these car companies want the Biden administration to allocate 10% of the money from the signed bipartisan infrastructure bill, 2021. Government is also willing to support all these new charging networks, because of the ongoing gasoline crisis. Nobody knows when the Ukraine-Russia situation will improve and global climate change is also a very concerning threat. So natural sources like the sun and hydraulic powers are the future of clean, zero-emission fuel. When the government is funding there’s less risk of this transformation being a failure. That’s why car manufacturers are advocating electric-powered vehicles and are willing to change their whole catalog turned into EVs.
When we look at Tesla, we immediately connect it with Elon Musk. It’s safe to say that the brand Elon Musk is bigger than the brand Tesla. With the recent Twitter controversy and other past events, we know that Elon is an avid entertainer and dream chaser. If we take the brand promotion with the pre-orders into knowledge, the Tesla semi-truck is already a success, even before the launch. Elon knows how to stay in the news and promote his brands accordingly. If Tesla and other car manufacturers can build a countrywide charging network station with the association of the government, all-electric vehicles are the future in every car segment, regardless.