Elon Musk, the famous Tesla CEO recently announced on the eve of the New York International Auto Show that the company would soon (September this year) unveil its exclusive all-electric, semi-truck known as the ‘Tesla Semi’.
Elon further hinted that the new machine would be “seriously next level” and went ahead to discuss in brief the imminent release of the Tesla pickup truck alongside its next-gen Roadster.
The CEO applauded the team behind the development of the Tesla Semi saying they had done “an amazing job”. The company has appointed Tesla’s Vice President of Vehicle Programs Jerome Guillen to spearhead the all-electric heavy truck program of the automaker.
Guillen previously headed Daimler’s Cascadia semi-truck program, and this makes him qualified enough to oversee an electric trucks program as he boasts both the experience with trucks as well as Tesla’s Model S having been its program’s director.
Guillen took a break in 2015 and returned to Tesla Company in January 2016 and since then he has been working hand in hand with the team. By September 2017 when the reveal is expected, the team will be around two years into the program.
Musk also confirmed that the previously revealed Tesla pickup truck would be launched in the next 18 to 24 months. Ideally, the Tesla Semi is still far in its development process and could actually be availed way before the pickup.
All in all, this makes sense considering how Tesla aggressively pushes for autonomous driving and the ultimate impact the technology would have on the trucking industry.
At its innovation rate, Tesla is bound to give Uber’s Otto a run for its money and particularly now that the company has greater potential to leverage its Autopilot and self-driving passenger cars into some autonomous driving technology for semi-truck.
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When it comes to the freight industry, the fuel and the driver are the two main costs for every mile run but Tesla is expected to make major improvements on their new electric and autonomous truck.
Musk added that truck drivers will still be a necessity for ‘a few years’ and hence Tesla Semi might not be completely autonomous with its first generation.
Meanwhile, Tesla’s electric powertrain is becoming another interesting feature. If it’s successfully completed, the auto machine will undoubtedly become the most powerful, high-energy capacity powertrain of all time.
With regards to its battery swap program, Tesla confirmed that battery swaps are crucial in fleet vehicles and therefore the program would re-emerge and potentially run as long as the Tesla Semi is on the road.
And fierce competition is also expected. Ian Wright, one of Tesla’s co-founders has established Wrightspeed, a company which creates hybrid battery for heavy-duty trucks besides its startup, Nikola Motor which uses batteries developed with hydrogen or natural gas range-extending technology to power its own semi trucks.