Tesla Semi Headed For Scale Production Within 2 Years

2 months ago by Eric Loveday 29

Tesla

Circle the date: Tesla Semi debuts September 28th, 2017

Tesla CEO Elon Musk reconfirmed that the automaker’s semi truck will be shown off this September in prototype form.

The announcement was made yesterday at Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting.

According to Musk, a working prototype will be shown in late September.

Musk stated:

“…we have shown it to a number of the organizations that buy heavy-duty trucking and they all love it. They just want to know how many can they buy and how soon.”

And we are getting them (trucking companies) closely involved in the design process. So the biggest customers of the heavy duty Tesla semi are helping to ensure that it is specified to their needs. So it’s not a mystery. They already know that it is going to meet their needs, because they help decide that; they have told us what those needs are,  so it’s going to just be questions of scaling of volume to make as many as we can.”

In terms of production, Musk commented that the Tesla semi should see scale production within 18 to 24 months. That’s a much sooner timeframe than we would’ve guessed.

As for the unveiling in September, Musk alluded to a little something extra being shown off by stating it’s an event you don’t want to miss.

“There is a few other things I haven’t mentioned here, I’m going to…I just like, really recommend showing up for the semi-truck unveiling.”

Previously, during Tesla’s Q1 conference call, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made it known that the automaker’s upcoming semi truck will employ electric motors that are found in the soon-to-launch Model 3. The actual word from Musk is that the Tesla will use “a bunch” of Model 3 electric motors. Maybe 2, 4, or even 6.

Musk went on the say that the Tesla semi isn’t really as ambitious a project as some might think. Tesla fully intends to use lots of parts in the semi that are found in its other vehicles. This interchangeability helps to drive down costs across the board and to get the truck to market sooner rather than later.

The battery is the biggest question mark right now. But using this interchangeability idea, Tesla could actually be utilizing multiple Model S, X or 3 battery packs in the Tesla semi.

The Tesla semi will be officially unveiled this September, but surely there will be leaks here and there from now ’til then.

Source: Teslarati

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29 responses to "Tesla Semi Headed For Scale Production Within 2 Years"

  1. Brian says:

    “There is a few other things I haven’t mentioned here, I’m going to…I just like, really recommend showing up for the semi-truck unveiling.”

    Let the speculation begin.

    What if they used this event to show off the next generation of super charging?

    1. TomArt says:

      Intriguing possibility!

      1. Kdawg says:

        My guess would be another Model Y teaser.

    2. Brandon says:

      Yeah, that would be cool!!!

      But seriously, a big piece of getting the Tesla semi truck to market will be some kind of high power charging infrastructure.
      I wonder what it’ll look like. It’s got to be close to 1 MW power output. My question is will they use a couple connectors to plug that much power into a semi.

      1. MikeG says:

        There are many scenarios where enhanced supercharging (super-duper charging) wouldn’t be necessary. Only long-haul trucking would need this, although I hope Tesla will support this too. However, it’s not mandatory for the Tesla semi to be successful at the outset.

        1. ClarksonCote says:

          Seriously. A Model S supercharger is a perfect Semi truck overnight charger.

          I keep speculating that’s why many of the new supercharger bays are drive-thru, as they would accommodate semis easily, and efficiently use a Tesla capital equipment resource that rarely gets overnight use.

          1. Brandon says:

            Actually I seriously doubt that the current Supercharger network locations will be used for semi trucks. Semi trucks are huge!! Think about that again.

            I’m going to say that Tesla will have a separate Supercharger network for semi trucks, and it’ll be close to 1 MW charging speed. There could be two cables close to each other with 400 kW each, and one connector (probably a different design than the current Tesla plug) that will fast charge at 800 kW.

            1. Brandon says:

              Also, likely the reason for drive thru Supercharger locations is simply to accommodate Model X’s with trailers. That’s worth something. Otherwise it’s quite inconvenient to charge.

    3. Bill Howland says:

      I thought the existing 120 kw chargers would be adequate for a tractor-trailer. 1200 kwh in for 10 hours seems to me to be an adequate amount.

      Of course here, our friend will mention tapering, but I’d think it wouldn’t be a big deal to have an onboard ‘conditioner’ which would keep the power level at 120 kw, as all they need is a simple non-isolated boost converter.

      1. ClarksonCote says:

        Can you elaborate on the tapering comment Bill?

        You can’t avoid the need to taper at the top of a Lithium Ion battery charge. Of course, I think you know that, and you’re probably referring to voltage conversions needed if the Supercharger max voltage is less than the Semi pack’s max voltage.

        I’m asking more for the benefit of the reading crowd here than myself. 😉

        1. Doggydogworld says:

          120 kW isn’t “fast charging” for a 1200 kWh battery, so no need to taper.

    4. Someone out there says:

      I think he will announce Tesla Telecom, a global, roaming-free, satellite based telecom network. SpaceX has been busy launching satellites recently.
      Every Tesla car has a 3G or 4G broadband connection that works everywhere in the world. That probably costs Tesla a pretty penny with all the software updates and such. Might as well spend that money on your own network since you already own the rocket company needed.

  2. philip d says:

    This interchangeability of main powertrain parts across the entire class lineup from a midsize sedan all the way up to a semi-truck is one of the main reasons EVs will win out over the ICE sooner than later.

    Think of how different a 4-cylinder Corolla engine/drivetrain is compared to a semi engine/drivetrain and how each requires a completely different ongoing research and development track.

    Pretty muuch each segment that a automaker has requires a unique drivetrain which requires in some cases a completely different division. All this has enormous cost.

    Imagine for EV drivetrain development just simply arranging the same 2 or 3 electric motor designs in different numbers and configurations across the entire lineup. And the exact same battery pack in different numbers and configurations across the entire lineup. That will save billions per model and segment for each development cycle.

  3. Boris says:

    I know this is off topic, but am I the only one a bit concerned about Elon’s Ambien comments and tweets from yesterday? When seeing these comments, plus seeing who his new girlfriend is, I admit I am a bit concerned…

    1. unlucky says:

      I didn’t see that. That unfortunately could explain how much he’s off on tangents lately.

      That could be a bad sign. I hope it doesn’t turn out badly.

  4. Mikael says:

    Like the new record set on Nurburgring…. A semi truck beating the NextEV Nio P9. 😛

  5. georgeS says:

    IMO this truck is even more interesting than the Model 3.

    Talk about engineering challenges. This is it.

    I’m sticking with my prediction of a new dedicated supercharging network just for semi’s……and free supercharging as well.

  6. wavelet says:

    The mysteries abound here. It doesn’t make sense for a long-distance semi-trailer rig to be all electric, given what we know of (a)the expected cost & weight of batteries (b) The type of chargers that would be required.
    A very short-haul truck for ports does make sense, but that’s a very narrow market — not “trucking companies”.
    Other option is some kind of hybrid, but Musk has always been negative on them.
    Very curious to see what it’ll end pu being…

    1. Bill Howland says:

      Yeah I don’t necessarily see this as a problem – I mean, exactly how big is the battery for this thing going to be? As far as the on-board charger is concerned – if these things only charge at existing ‘superchargers’, the only thing I see needed on board is a simple ‘buck boost converter’ to keep the draw a constant 120 kw. I’m sure Musk will sell Superchargers to the individual truck depot, should the trucking firm prefer to use their own facilities in certain places.

      If Musk or his reps have been negotiating with the trucking firms, I’m sure he is allowing for a range of batteries, and he’s probably foregoing the longer of the longest range semi’s – those which run on LNG for super long haul performance.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      @Wavelet:

      Yeah, something definitely doesn’t add up here. A long distance BEV semi can’t be “easy to design”. What would, I think, be easy to design, would be a BEV “yard mule” semi tractor, because that’s essentially just an oversized utility vehicle, and doesn’t even need streamlining. But that doesn’t at all fit with Elon’s claim that range will be even better than diesel, or however it was he put it.

      I just don’t buy that Tesla has had this in development long enough that the are gonna show a prototype this September, and put it into production within two years, yet we have heard almost nothing about it until recently, and even now almost nothing is known. I also find it very hard to believe that Tesla will make the entire thing in-house rather than partnering with an existing semi truck manufacturer, if this is really going to be a long-distance freight carrier.

      Another big question is how Tesla can solve the problem of the battery pack being too expensive to compete with diesel over the life of the vehicle, again assuming this is really a long-distance truck and not a very short-distance one.

      There are some very big pieces of the puzzle missing here, and I strongly suspect that when we finally find out what Tesla is making, at least some of the apparently contradictory things Elon has said will turn out to be very misleading.

      1. Brian says:

        “I just don’t buy that Tesla has had this in development long enough that the are gonna show a prototype this September, and put it into production within two years, yet we have heard almost nothing about it until recently, and even now almost nothing is known”

        Just to play Devils Advocate here…

        He did say he was in talks with the potential customers. I certainly won’t be in line to buy a Tesla Semi, so what benefit do they have in telling me details?

        Stock holders want to know about the development since it affects their investment, but again they don’t really need to be sold on details.

        So that leaves the details to be worked out behind the scenes. There is a competitive advantage for NOT sharing your plans with the world.

        These are enough reasons for me to give Tesla the benefit of the doubt on this one.

      2. pjwood1 says:

        I don’t think the cheapness of electricity gets its due, in this regard. Plenty of states are below $.12/KWh, and, if truck stops mean bravado, I can see Musk putting up for some massive PV-battery facilities, on I-70, or I-80. There, it won’t be land or sun that get in the way of $.04-.05 PPA equivalent solar costs. Just the storage $$.

        When this last came up, there were more numbers, like trucks at .5 mile/KWh versus something like 5 miles per gallon. Even with liquid fuel prices down, there isn’t much competition when working numbers in this range. The delta pays off truck batteries, which I’d guess would have cheaper $/KWh prices, in the first place, because they’re one BMS on top of many more cells.

        1. Doggydogworld says:

          12 cents/kWh isn’t cheap for trucking. It’s about 25 cents/mile, which is what a next-gen semi truck* gets (10 mph @ 2.50/gal diesel**).

          *2019 Tesla Semi must beat next-gen, not the existing fleet.
          **Roughly $2.00/gal untaxed

          “massive PV-battery facilities, on I-70, or I-80”
          LCOE for PV+battery is well above 12 cents/kWh

          1. Doggydogworld says:

            Of course that’s supposed to be 10 mpg @ 2.50/gal. 10 mph would be great for range, but not popular with trucking companies.

      3. Sean Wagner says:

        I’m equally puzzled. Apart from battery swapping, the only thing I can think of that makes sense is overhead power. Building 30 miles of this in the desert shouldn’t be a problem, but dense traffic corridors?

        https://qz.com/714381/siemens-says-it-can-power-unlimited-range-electric-trucks-using-a-150-year-old-technology/

        1. Doggydogworld says:

          You don’t need it in dense areas, the trucks run on battery there. You also don’t need “30 mile” stretches – just one mile every 10-25. Charge the battery up during that mile then run on that charge until you reach the next wired section. That’s why it’s so cheap to deploy.

          I prefer Honda’s approach, which puts the wires in standard guardrails beside the road. That way cars and light trucks can use it, too.

  7. Steven says:

    My 2¢
    I still think “Yard Trucks” are the most logical first step for Tesla to work out the kinks and prove the abilities for their semi’s.

    AT those large warehouses that dot the rural landscape, install a ten bay Supercharger, and station ten yard trucks, let them do their thing for a year, and assuming the trucks hold up to the wear and tear equally well as their diesel counterparts, I’d imagine they’ll be throwing their checkbooks at Tesla for more.

    Then the local trucking companies will see the cost advantages…

    And from there…

    The world.

    In my opinion, you can’t force a change that’s perceived to be revolutionary onto an industry, it must be massaged in, then it will spread.

    1. Doggydogworld says:

      EV yard mules already exist. Yard mules don’t burn much fuel, so there really isn’t much of an economic case. They sell in areas with smog-sensitive local governments (e.g. SoCal).

      1. Steven says:

        And that’s why I said it’s a good place to start.

        Thank you for agreeing with me.

        Next up, short local trucking routes, like the Post Office.

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