Tesla’s New Direction

December 1, 2017

Tesla released its“Tesla Semi”, the company’s first semi-truck, on November 16. In the months beforehand, CEO Elon Musk had hinted at what was to come for the groundbreaking new truck and, naturally, with the innovativeness of the company, rumors circulated about what new features would be introduced. However, even with all the commotion, the semi exceeded everyone’s expectations.

The new truck, like most of Tesla’s products, focused on becoming the best of its kind, and it very well may have. The semi is able to accelerate to 60mph within 5 seconds – far outdoing any other trucking competitors. This is largely due to the new truck’s streamlined design and the four independent motors, located in the rear base of the vehicle, which not only give them more power, but also make for far better handling due to the low center of gravity.

The amount of attention that Tesla put into the safety and comfort of future Tesla Semi truckers is actually very impressive, with their efforts including far more than the previously mentioned better handling. The each vehicle also comes pre-equipped with an advanced autopilot, which not only has emergency braking, collision warning, and lane keeping, but features which focus on the condition of the driver. According to Musk, should the truck sense that the driver is no longer managing the vehicle (e.g. steering, braking, etc.), then it will slowly pull to a stop and put on its hazards. Then, if the truck continues to receive no response from the driver (not specified how it’ll check), then it will immediately call emergency services – something that is extremely important in the stressful life of a trucker.

This will also be extremely valuable in preventing collisions with other vehicles. But Tesla has made sure that even if those collisions do occur, that the driver will remain safe. The previously mentioned low center of gravity minimizes the risk of rollovers, greatly protecting the driver and surrounding vehicles. The motors which cause this low center of gravity are on each of the four back wheels, which are also supposed to make jackknifing, a driver’s worst nightmare,impossible by acting independently to correct the direction of the truck.  Unlike many other semi-trucks, Tesla has also positioned the driver’s seat in the center of the cab, which, according to the company, is the safest position for a driver to be in. The cab even comes with glass which is reportedly strong enough to survive a nuclear blast, meaning that it is unlikely to ever crack, which keeps more Tesla Semis on the road.

But, the biggest question regarding the new truck is whether or not it will be able to travel long distances. According to Tesla, it is able to travel 500 miles at highway speeds with a maximum load before running out of battery. Charging stations will be located at destinations, allowing the driver to charge while the cargo is being unloaded, and one charge of 30 minutes will restore the battery or a range of 400 miles. But what’s likely most important for investors is the truck’s lifetime, which is guaranteed to travel 1,000,000 miles before breaking down, along with the plus of (supposedly) never having to replace brake pads.

Now the Tesla Semi is far from cheap, with the down payment being $ 20,000 (keep in mind that they won’t be manufactured until 2019) and another payment of $150,000 (300 mile range) or $180,000 (500 mile range) once the car is obtained (to be paid back within 2 years). However, Tesla claims that the truck will more than make up for its cost by saving on diesel. And keep in mind that as expensive as the truck is, normal semis aren’t cheap either, ranging from $80,000 to $150,000, and if the Tesla semi really as great as the company claims it to be, the extra money spent will be well worth it. Or at least many companies already think so, with orders flooding in from J.B Hunt (a huge trucking company), Walmart, Meijer, and Loblaws.

Musk also followed up on his promise to deliver a surprise at the Semi unveiling, and presented the new Tesla Roadster, which is to begin production in 2020. Tesla is aiming high for this vehicle as well, claiming that it will be the fastest consumer car on the market, with the roadster reaching 60mph in 1.9 seconds and 100mph in 4.2 seconds. It will also be able to drive a quarter of a mile in 8.9 seconds and the top speed will be over 250 mph. The car will also be able to seat four (although the back seats appear somewhat cramped) and travel for a maximum of 620 miles on the highway.

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