After I saw the new Tesla semi truck I had a couple of thoughts. The first was that it looks insanely futuristic. But the second thought was around technology. It makes sense to me that this would be the industry that Tesla would target. Yes, there are a lot of cars on the road. And yes, we could do a better job of being more environmentally friendly when it comes to driving. But at the same time, have you seen how many transport trucks are on the roads now? If the concern is our carbon footprint, then Tesla is definitely headed in the right direction with this vehicle. I’m not suggesting that this will have a big impact immediately, but I think this direction is something that Tesla and other electric car manufacturers need to explore. So what does it look like exactly?
It’s faster than any semi truck that you’ve ever seen. Elon Musk says that it will do 0-60 miles per hour in just five seconds. Which is fast. But what about when the truck is full? Well, it will do the same distance in 20 seconds while pulling an 80,000-pound load. So no more getting stuck behind an annoyingly slow transport truck at a traffic light. What’s interesting about this truck is that the cost is 20% less than a diesel truck on a per mile basis. And with the price of gasoline constantly increasing, this could be a massive saving for a transport company.
Many people are wondering if the truck will drive itself? Kind of. The semi does have Tesla’s Enhanced Autopilot system, but it’s not what you expect. It’s got the best driver-assist systems you will ever see. In addition, it has emergency automatic braking, lane detection, and lane departure warnings. Which sounds like it’s even safer than, say, a human. Musk himself says that he can drive the truck, but has no idea how to drive a semi. So could this mean less training required for new drivers? I’m not sure how I feel about that, but it’s something to consider.
The Tesla Semi has a ton of tech that could further this idea of safety. The driver is positioned in the middle, which could help cut down on blind spots. (I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this concept) There are screens on both sides of the driver that show blind spot sensors, which will help with what might be the hardest part of driving in general. In addition, there is a computer that can help control each wheel that potentially could prevent jackknifing.
Musk indicated that production will start in 2019. How much it’s going to cost is anyone’s guess at this point. I think that this could revolutionize the industry, but it will depend on how much they cost. There is a cost saving associated with the truck itself, but again, how much are you paying up front for the vehicle? The big-box store Meijer Inc. has already secured an order for four trucks. Each reservation required a $5,000 deposit. But beyond that, we don’t know much more about the cost. They have an interesting design, and I will surely be in awe if/when I see one on the highway.