My Tesla Semi Truck Predictions

As we approach Tesla’s Semi Truck event on November 16, 2017, I’ve wanted to add some of my thoughts on predictions around what to expect. I cover Department of Transportation regulations, distance/range of trucks, charging network, drag coefficient, and maintenance.

Thumbnail photo credit:

My Tesla referral code:

10 Replies to “My Tesla Semi Truck Predictions”

  1. hades123

    Here is what I would consider adding to the Semi design if it were up to me. A modular battery pack. Basically the semi will come with a standard say 300 mile battery back and the company can order an upgrade pack to extend to 600 miles. This will give the flexibility to the fleet company to change the configuration of each truck on the fly without having to purchase separate long and short haul versions of each, all while allowing Tesla to manufacture only one standard version instead of having 2 manufacturing lines.

  2. seaplaneguy

    A Diesel is around 30-35% under load. A Tesla is around 60-70%. About 2:1 ratio. 100 gallons is 3370 kw hr/2=1685 kw-hr battery. It is like 50 gallons of energy… x 300 lbs/gal = 15,000 lbs for the battery.

  3. James Baxter

    I don't know where you are getting your info from. You need a 30 min break in a 10 Hour driving day, Then 14 hour in the sleeper, You need to get fuel in all states. So how far the Tesla truck will go, As you don't know, But to carry the weight

  4. David Black

    Haha!  Another day, another Tesla tuber that thinks he has an insight into heavy trucking…   Sean, you have made several flawed assumptions.   I own a construction company in WA, and own trucks and heavy equipment.   When talking about energy consumption (Fuel Consumption) one has to consider many factors like GCVW (gross combined vehicle weight) speed, temperature, and terrain.   Tesla keeps talking about 80K GCVW which I am not sure where they got that number, but here in WA most trucks are licensed for 92K to 105K  GCVW.  Since tons moved over miles is how trucks get paid typically, payload and time are the most critical factors.  Since we are in the construction industry, we sometimes have to move our large excavators over the road, during these times we are loaded up over 140K GCVW, and often go over the mountain passes.    I like the idea of an electric semi, the regen braking, smooth acceleration, and lower maintenance would be fantastic, however there are some big equations that Tesla is not figuring into their rig.   For one thing, our trucks max out at nearly 3000 LB Ft of torque,  but unlike an electric vehicle, they can produce this torque continuously for a tank of fuel (100% Duty Cycle)  Meaning when loaded heavy, or climbing a grade you can hold the throttle to the floor for hours (assuming you are in the right gear, and keep engine RPM in the optimal range) and not worry about overheating of components,  and you can do this in in Eastern Washington where the temps are often North of 100 degrees F during summer months.   All of this can  be done while running the air conditioner.  This is where the Electric truck is going to have big trouble, ask anyone that has an S or an X when climbing a mountain pass in hot weather how long they can hold a higher speed,  1 to 2 minutes is typical before power reduction comes in, and we are talking about a vehicle that weights 5 to 6K GVW,  not a 140K GCVW oversize load.    I am not sure why there is so much hype on the Tesla semi,  they have only built a mule, and 1 prototype, and  there is no data at all to support a real mission, no factory to build it,  and with Tesla reliability, assuming it will be on par with S and X no truckers that will buy it.    We simply cannot afford a breakdown, and looking at Tesla Tuber Bjorn Nyland and his X,  goodness, he has been on the tow truck 3 times in the last 2 months at only 100K KM travelled.  In comparison my 2011 GMC diesel pickup has 140K miles and has never been towed, and I work the s— out it every day.    When you rely on a vehicle to make a living, it has to be reliable, and get the job done every time.   On to cost,  we run our trucks mostly local, delivering gravel to our construction projects, and occasionally moving machines for other contractors.  Due to our shorter missions and lower speed, fuel cost is quite low, averaging $100 a day.  We moved a 400 size excavator 2 weeks ago, 200 miles, and over 2 mountain passes @ 135K+ GCVW,  and the fuel cost that day was $ 375, which may seem like a lot, but when you consider the truck billed out $1400 more then a normal day, and other costs were stable, this was very profitable, remember tons moved over miles is how trucks make $,  so for Tesla and their 80K GCVW,  there are just not that many loads of potato chips, and styrofoam that need moved.   One other thing you talk about is aerodynamics, and this is an area that can be greatly improved on current trucks,  however CD on the tractor does not tell the whole story, because often the payload has poor aerodynamic properties.  I drive I-90 a lot, I see many Jet engines being moved West towards Boeing,  these are light loads that the Tesla Semi might be able to haul,  but they are also severely un-aerodynamic, so whatever efficiency gained in the tractor, is just lost on the trailer. .    For us,  we purposely buy the Kenworth T-800 trucks  (less Aerodynamic then the T-680) because they have better ground clearance for working on construction sites, and on less then fully improved roads, and they also have a better engine cooling system that is useful in stop and go traffic, or when hauling heavy loads in hot weather.

  5. BB Cooter

    First, Semi's run on Diesel, not Gas. Next, I disagree with your premise of Tesla's Semi needing to have a range of either 500 miles, or 1,000 miles. The size of the fuel tanks do not govern how far a truck can travel in a Driver's "shift". The governing factor is time available to drive, by-the-way, a Driver is limited to 10 hours of driving within the 14 hour "shift". Given a 10 hour drive time limit, and assuming a 50 mph average speed, a driver can expect to drive around 500 miles per shift (day), consequently, a 400 to 500 mile range, with a mid-day recharge, would be adequate for even Long-Haul Trucking. Additionally, Short-Haul or Regional trucking needs could be easily accommodated with a 250 to 300 mile battery pack (even smaller for a distribution center if the trucks return to get reloaded/recharged during the day). Because, Short Haul Trucking has better control of how far their trucks travel, and where they park overnight, I predict that Tesla will focus on the Short Haul/Regional trucking market with their Semi trucks having a range of around 300 miles. Your analysis of Drag-coefficient is also off. You are forgetting the fact that you are moving 80,000 lbs down the road (and up hills). You are also discounting the fact that you are moving a VERY BIG BOX down the road and you have to displace a whole lot of air every second that truck is in motion. When you mentioned the maintenance costs, you failed to mention the time period for the $17,000 figure ( I assume annually ), The Tesla Semi will not eliminate all those costs, however, the Tesla should greatly reduce the annual maintenance costs associated with operating the Semi Truck. Tires, Power Steering Hoses, Air Conditioner Repairs, Battery Coolant, and Drive Train (Motor) lubricant will still need to be changed and/or repaired. Because the Tesla Semi can reduce a trucking company's operating cost so much (reduced maintenance costs, 90% + Electric drive efficiency) taking an hour to recharge during a Driver's shift would be a very small price to pay to gain all the other benefits of an Electric Tesla Semi Truck. Companies can adapt schedules to accommodate mid-day (shift) recharging in order to gain all the other advantages of operating an Electric Fleet (mainly much lower operating costs).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *