500-mile Tesla Semi begins deliveries and features 1-megawatt boost

Tesla began delivering its tractor-trailer truck, dubbed the Semi, to customers late Thursday.

The first customer was Pepsi, who ordered 100 Class 8 trucks after debuting in 2017. Budweiser and Walmart are among other customers of the all-electric tractor-trailer, which like the McLaren F1 supercar, has a central driving position.

Deliveries began at a special event at the Tesla plant in Reno, Nevada, where CEO Elon Musk confirmed some more specifications for the Semi. Tesla also presented a time-lapse video showing an articulated lorry allegedly driving 500 miles on a single charge with a gross weight of 81,000 pounds.

The version of the articulated lorry in the video featured a three-motor powertrain, with a single motor on a rear axle for driving in low-load situations and two more motors on a second rear axle for acceleration. Tesla said performance is three times that of any comparable diesel truck on the market.

Tesla’s performance specs include acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in 20 seconds and the ability to accelerate on inclines up to 5%. These numbers are based on the Semi’s maximum gross weight of 82,000 pounds. With no load, Tesla said the Semi can sprint to 60 mph in just five seconds.

Tesla also said the Semi can go a mile on less than 2kWh of electricity.

Tesla Semi

Tesla Semi

Tesla hasn’t said how big the battery is, but the company has previously stated that a 70 percent charge in 30 minutes is possible with a new 1-megawatt (1,000 kW) charger being developed for the Semi. Musk said at the Reno event that the megawatt charger will also be compatible with the upcoming Cybertruck pickup truck. Tesla plans to roll out the megawatt chargers at its Supercharger stations in the coming year.

Production of the Semi takes place at the Tesla plant in Austin, Texas. Tesla also builds the Model Y crossover at the plant and is scheduled to start production of the Cybertruck in 2023.

Tesla Semi

Tesla Semi

Production of the Semi was originally scheduled to begin in 2019, but the date was pushed back as Tesla prioritized production of the Model Y in Austin given limited battery cell availability and other supply chain issues. Since then, established truck manufacturers such as Daimler Trucks and Volvo Trucks have already launched electric trucks, including Class 8 trucks.

Tesla began accepting reservations for the Semi in May and requested a $20,000 deposit in August, at which point reservations were closed. The trucks were originally priced at $150,000 for a 300-mile model and $180,000 for a 500-mile model. It’s possible that Tesla will raise prices when reservations reopen, a situation that has affected a number of electric vehicles in recent months.

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