Tesla Semi Truck To Have 200-300 Miles Of Range

3 weeks ago by Mark Kane 52

Tesla

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

The range figure seems too low to us, but maybe tesla’s target isn’t long-haul after all.

The upcoming Tesla semi truck is expected to have 200 to 300 miles (320 to 480 km) of range with payload, according to an exclusive report from Reuters.

Tesla Semi Rendering

Tesla Semi Rendering

Crossing the 200-mile mark will enable the Tesla semi to score some trucking jobs, as apparently 30% of U.S. trucking trips are within 100-200 miles a day.

Battery prices and weight makes big trucks a hard nut to crack for EVs, especially since there’s 1,000-plus mile diesel counterparts out there, but we believe that the autonomous driving (in the near future) will help Tesla to attract the companies its way.

According to Reuters, as of today, Tesla targets the very low end of “long-haul” without sleeper berth.

“Tesla’s electric prototype will be capable of traveling the low end of what transportation veterans consider to be “long-haul” trucking, according to Scott Perry, an executive at Miami-based fleet operator Ryder System Inc (R.N). Perry said he met with Tesla officials earlier this year to discuss the technology at the automaker’s manufacturing facility in Fremont, California.”

“Perry said Tesla’s efforts are centered on an electric big-rig known as a “day cab” with no sleeper berth, capable of traveling about 200 to 300 miles with a typical payload before recharging.”

Perry added that he doesn’t expect Tesla to go after the longer distance trucking segment, at least not initially.

When asked to comment on these remarks by Perry, Tesla stated:

“Tesla’s policy is to always decline to comment on speculation, whether true or untrue, as doing so would be silly. Silly!”

The prototype Tesla semi is to be unveiled on September 28th. We’ll get lots more details then, for sure.

Source: Reuters

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52 responses to "Tesla Semi Truck To Have 200-300 Miles Of Range"

  1. Big Solar says:

    i assume they are going to use the first trucks they make for themselves?

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Reports are they are making only two trucks. These are concept vehicles cum technology demonstrators, not production intent vehicles. I think the idea is to “test the waters” to see how much interest there is from fleet owners. I think whether or not Tesla goes ahead and puts the vehicle into production will depend entirely on how much interest is shown by fleet operators.

      Note that we have not been seeing any reports of Tesla contracting for large amounts of parts for semi tractors, as we have been seeing for the Model 3; nor has Tesla been reported to be building out any semi tractor EV chargers. Both of these situations point to Tesla building just a concept vehicle (or two), and I don’t think it was ever a realistic expectation that there would soon be a working fleet of these trucks.

      1. speculawyer says:

        It is certainly at the very early stages.

        “Note that we have not been seeing any reports of Tesla contracting for large amounts of parts for semi tractors, as we have been seeing for the Model 3;”

        I heard that they plan to use the very same Model 3 motor in the Semi-truck. Obviously, many of them. So they plan to build these things with the same batteries, controllers, motors, etc as their regular cars. Just in larger quantities.

        Thus, a neat thing with their technology is that it is very scalable via parallelism.

  2. Titolajko says:

    Unfortunatelly, thats not enough for a truck. A truck must have a minimum of 450-600 miles to be economical and worth switching from ice. Time is money, and truckers dont have time every 4 hours to stop and charge for 40 minutes or so. A battery swap maybe, but no 40-60 minutes at a stall. They typically drive 10 hours per day, so this would mean they would have to stop at least twice in a day to charge. Thats if it is perfectly timed to stop when almost drained, there is a stall available, they can eat, take a shower, etc. a car of 200-300 miles is ok since its rarely driven on long trips. A Semi is designed to go cross country and always be on the road. Minimum of 450 miles Elon.

    1. Paul Stoller says:

      You would be correct for long haul trucking. A substantial portion of trucking is short haul and a 200-300 mile range would be perfectly suited for this market.

    2. Brian says:

      Sounds to me like you have not been following this story. Tesla has been working directly with its potential customers in order to fit a need they have. Read the article again. 30% of the trucks on the road need no more than 200-300 miles in a day. 30%. That’s a HUGE market for Tesla to break into. Let them knock that out of the park, and then worry about the other 70%. By then, batteries will have come even farther.

      1. SJC says:

        Lots of trucks go from port to warehouse, this can do that easily.

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “A Semi is designed to go cross country and always be on the road. Minimum of 450 miles Elon.”

      You are correct to say that a semi tractor with a range of only ~300 miles will be less flexible than a diesel semi which can easily have a range of 800 miles, or even more with larger fuel tanks. And it’s very unlikely that a semi tractor with such a short range would appeal to an independent trucker.

      However, note that Tesla is talking about sales only to fleet operators, at least initially. Consider the following comparison:

      A fleet operator has 3 loads of widgets that need to be hauled 750 miles every day. He could do this by:

      (A) Using 3 diesel tractors which would haul 3 trailers that 750 mile distance. If this was done every day, then he would also need 3 tractors assigned to the return trip daily, so this route would take 6 tractors and 6 drivers.

      (B) Using a relay system, the fleet operator could have the first third of the trip performed by an autonomous BEV semi tractor with a range of 300 miles or less. It would haul the trailer to a semi freight yard cum staging area, to be dropped off. A second BEV tractor would pick it up there, hauling it the second leg to another freight yard, where it would be picked up by a third BEV tractor to haul it to its destination. Three tractors to take the load, and three making the return trip. But those three tractors won’t be done for the day traveling just a single leg. They can recharge and return the same day. Since they are autonomous, the fleet operator doesn’t have to worry about assigning drivers; the trucks can run day and night.

      Will the fleet operator be able to achieve the same throughput with case (B) as case (A)? Can the Tesla semi tractor be recharged rapidly enough that a fleet of 6 BEV semis can achieve the same throughput in a 24 hour period as the 6 diesel semis?

      I don’t know. Stay tuned for more information! 🙂

  3. jim stack says:

    We will have to see what Tesla does in September. With their new High Power charging of 300 kW and up, battery swapping and Hyper-Loop they my have a complete new paradigm for us to understand.

  4. Another Euro point of view says:

    One need to be a believer to see Tesla being successful with that sort of products, same with power wall. I mean being cheap, practical and reliable is not exactly Tesla cup of tea.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Tesla Superchargers are practical and reliable, are they not? I don’t know how cheap they are compared to other DCFC stations, but at $50,000 per two-stall Supercharger, I don’t think that they’re much more expensive.

  5. ffbj says:

    It’s as I predicted. Using it as yard mule, or for local short hauls. After running the numbers I just could not imagine an OTR long-haul truck.

  6. georgeS says:

    It could be but that puts the life of the pack at 375,000 miles assuming 1500 cycles of life.

    Maybe Tesla would switch to NMC chemistry in this case. Not quite as power dense but better cycle life than NCA

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      The average lifetime to battery pack replacement will be highly critical for whether or not there is an economic case for BEV semi trucking. If Tesla is renting the packs, then Tesla will have to absorb any financial loss if they wear out too quickly.

      But the average semi tractor has only 3x as many miles put on it as the average American passenger car. So perhaps diesel semis don’t get used as heavily, on an average basis, as we think. 3x normal passenger car use would only be ~40,000 miles per year. That’s a lot less than what it would be at 300 miles per day six days a week, which would be 93,600 miles a year.

      I’m sure that some semi tractors get driven more miles than that every year. But it’s the average case that Tesla must aim at, if it’s renting the battery packs. Some semi tractors will be used less than the average, too.

  7. georgeS says:

    We have a quote from Elon that the Tesla semi will match the range of the long haul semis….don’t we??

    Maybe the plan is to start with short haul trucks first. I would think that Tesla will offer various sizes of packs.

    I’ve said before that I thought Tesla would put in a dedicated supercharger network for the semis but I’m having second thoughts. That would be pretty cash intensive and Tesla needs to get Model 3 going smoothly first. Besides they just did a huge raise with the bond sale.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      I wish I could find the exact quote where Elon said something like the Tesla semi would have a range better than diesel. I suspect in hindsight that would have to be parsed rather heavily to make sense.

      My guess is that Elon was talking about the economic case, not that the actual truck itself will be able to go farther than a diesel semi before needing recharged. Of course I could be wrong, but all the signs I see point to the Tesla semi tractor having a range of at most 300-350 miles, and perhaps less.

      Range may be extended by using relay teams of trucks, or — and I think this is less likely — by battery swapping.

      1. georgeS says:

        Can’t find exact quote only paraphrasing of quote by media.

        Supposedy at TED conference:

        “Musk says Tesla is looking to prove that an electric truck can outperform a diesel truck when it comes to RANGE and torque, even with the added weight of a battery.”

        http://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-says-tesla-semi-truck-can-drive-like-sports-car-2017-4

  8. Delta says:

    You guys don’t think big like Elon does.

    What if he creates a fleet of self-driving battery packs that can sit at the side of the highway until a Tesla truck drives past that needs a charge. The self-driving battery pack will enter the highway – catch up to the Tesla semi and attach itself to the rear and start to juice up the on board battery pack. It will then just detach and drive to the next charge station.

    1. James says:

      That would require legal driverless autonomy – a utopian dream that will never reach reality. Liability is truth. “Man killed by driverless battery pack”, Int gonna happen.

      Full level 5 autonomy would only work with cordoned off dedicated lanes for your idea or ride share type taxi services. Expensive and could be feasible in town but large expanses of roadway unlikely.

      1. alohart says:

        Governments might need to assume the liability if what many expect proves to be true: autonomous driving will reduce the accident rate and save lives compared with human drivers. One of government’s prime responsibilities is to protect its citizens. Saving lives by supporting a safer mode of driving would fall squarely within government’s responsibilities.

        Full level 5 autonomy will safer than human drivers in the next decade. Initially, full level 5 autonomy will likely be illegal in some settings, but as it proves itself, full level 5 autonomy will become legal on all roads.

        You don’t have to like it and you will be able to choose to continue driving manually, with improving driving assistant technologies that many will appreciate. But eventually, all new vehicles will be full level 5 autonomous, so many will make the wise choice to no longer own a vehicle but to summon autonomous vehicles for their transportation.

        No one can stop this progress, nor should they.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        “Full level 5 autonomy would only work with cordoned off dedicated lanes for your idea or ride share type taxi services.”

        And motorcars are so dangerous that according to law, there must be someone walking in front of the vehicle waving a red flag, so those driving horse-drawn vehicles or herding cattle will be warned of the approach.

        These motorcars are just a passing fad. GET A HORSE!

        (Hopefully the /sarcasm tag isn’t needed?)

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_flag_traffic_laws

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Well, I’ll certainly admit that is thinking outside of the box!

      And congratulations on thinking up a method to solve this conundrum which I don’t think anyone has previously suggested, at least not in InsideEVs comments.

      I question the practicality of that, but then I question the practicality of battery swapping too.

  9. Someone out there says:

    As I expected the range is about what’s needed for transporting battery packs from GF to Fremont plus a small margin.

    1. Someone out there says:

      This is good by they as it puts another dent in the long tailpipe argument. Batteries are manufactured in the GF with renewable energy and then transported with renewable energy. Then what’s needed is switching the raw materials extraction and processing to RE.

  10. vensonata says:

    Full days driving for a semi is 650 miles. Max. A diesel with more fuel than that does not affect daily max mileage for a single driver. They legally can’t drive for more than 11 hours in a day.
    The Tesla Semi at 325 miles range requires a single charge mid point at 300 miles to make the full range of a diesel.
    Do not imagine that anybody needs to be driving continuously for 11 hours. Do you eat? In Europe 4.5 hours is max between breaks.
    The whole diesel range issue is a mere distraction, it does not factor into getting goods across the country in an economic way.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Maximum range for a day’s drive by a single driver in a diesel semi, at least in the USA, is about 700-750 miles, altho cases of 800 have been reported.

      It’s even further if there are two drivers in the cab, but that is uncommon.

      1. alohart says:

        That’s one of the reasons why driving a small car on multilane highways in Europe feels so much safer than in the U.S. (don’t have accident stats). The speed limit for European trucks is 90 kph (55 mph), and in my experience, very few trucks exceed the speed limit by more than 10%. In a very orderly manner, they platoon in the right lane venturing into the adjacent lane only to overtake.

        Meanwhile, in the U.S., huge tractor-trailers barrel along at 80 mph with drivers driving far farther and for longer than common sense tells most people is safe. Many of these trucks have no mufflers and can be heard for miles on a quiet night.

        Oh, well, Europe is more cultured and progressive in many ways…

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          I did find it shocking to learn that U.S. laws allow a trucker to work up to 14 hours in a single shift, altho of course with a lunch break and I think a couple of other short breaks in there.

          I remember how tired I’d get in just the 8-1/2 hour, ~350 mile drive from Kansas City, KS to Garden City, KS. But 14 hours in a stretch… well, those truckers clearly have more stamina than I ever did!

  11. Mikael says:

    200-300 miles would be lousy. Any company could do that, I am expecting Tesla to push the boundaries.

    I assume this isn’t true specs anyway since Tesla has been hinting at long haul possibilities.

    A 200-300 version though as an option to the longer range models would be nice though.

  12. Kosh says:

    Let’s think outside the box here.

    If you can automate the switching of cabs and their trailers, then you could set up charging stations every 300 miles where the truck pulls in, disconnects from it’s trailer, and goes to a charger, while a fully charged truck is waiting to connect to the trailer and continue on. That could be rather fast if automated.

    It’s the old pony express model, right?

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      That’s what I’ve been arguing: The relay system.

      But they don’t necessarily need to automate the switching in the freight yard. They would need someone to keep an eye on things, to make sure none of the trailers get stolen. Might as well hire someone for a guard who can do the switching of trailers from one semi tractor to another.

  13. Kdawg says:

    But what if they put solar cells on top of the truck? 😀

    1. John says:

      Can probably fit 10kW on the roof of the trailer, at a bad angle for producing power, and only in good weather, and peak power only when it’s clean…

      I think you’d be lucky to generate 20kWh a day.

      In a fully loaded truck, you’re talking a few miles.

      Definitely not worth it.

      Put those panels on a warehouse roof to charge it up later.

      1. Kdawg says:

        I was being facetious.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Put some big wind turbines on top of the trailer. Mount ’em on springs so when they hit the underside of an overpass, they’ll just swivel backwards and then spring back into position.

      I’m sure that will generate lots of power. 😉

  14. Boltdriver says:

    If you assume effiency similar to other ev’s they are going to get about .5 miles per kWh. So they will need 400 to 600kwh packs to go 200-300 miles.

    For a 1c recharge on the current 400v chargers, that’s 1000 amps. Makes a current supercharger look like an L2 for a truck. Possible, but looks expensive.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Boltdriver said:

      “If you assume effiency similar to other ev’s they are going to get about .5 miles per kWh.”

      A large heavy truck needs much more power and energy to push it down the road at highway speed. My “Napkin math 1.0” used a figure of 2.4 kWh per mile, but I expect Tesla to do a bit better than that with improved streamlining and reduced drag.

      “So they will need 400 to 600kwh packs to go 200-300 miles.”

      I get 720 kWh for 300 miles, altho again I expect Tesla to do a bit better than that. Or maybe more than a bit better.

      1. Dave86 says:

        My numbers:

        A gallon of diesel has 38KWH of energy. A truck runs at about 33% efficiency and gets about 6mpg. Given that, I calculate about 2.1KWH per mile.

        That said, there really isn’t much difference between 0.5 mi per KWH and 2.4KHz per mile.

  15. speculawyer says:

    Yeah, this makes much more sense than a general purpose long-haul tractor.

    Put together an economic case for this 30% of the market and get started. Longer-haul can be address later as the technology improves.

  16. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    I dunno what Tesla’s definition is, but 200-300 miles isn’t what I call “long haul”.

    This is, however, exactly what I’ve been arguing lately that Tesla is going to actually demonstrate as its BEV semi tractor concept vehicle cum technology demonstrator.

    It’s too early for me to claim victory here as this has not been confirmed by Tesla. But it certainly does support the recent economic arguments I’ve been making on the subject. But I shouldn’t claim that much credit; others suggested months ago that short-haul, 200-300 routes would be a practical goal for Tesla’s BEV semi, and it was only Musk’s claim that their semi would beat diesel semis for range that caused me to try to do “napkin math” to figure out how Tesla could achieve a range of ~750 miles.

    However, even assuming Tesla’s BEV semi truck is limited to ~300 miles of range, Tesla may be presenting a case that fleet operators can nonetheless use their semis for long-range trucking, by using relay teams of tractors or (I think less likely) battery swapping.

  17. fred says:

    I don’t believe it. Tesla didn’t say it. Elon didn’t say it. They’re guessing and guessing wrong.

    Remember Tesla is looking at autonomous driving through multiple states. They’re looking at “platoon” formation.

    Neither of these make much sense unless you’re doing long haul. Maybe 300 miles is a minimum, but I’d expect a longer range option or some sort. Battery swap or trailer would be much more practical than in personal vehicles.

  18. Josh Bryant says:

    The range would be fine once they have full self driving working. Trucks could drive through the night when the superchargers are more available, even with 2 1-hour charging stops it should be able to get 300+250+250 = 800 miles in a day.

    Seems pretty good.

  19. Chris O says:

    Hmm, Elon Musk tends to think bigger than this…

    We’ll see.

    1. Dave86 says:

      My thoughts, too, when I read that the range was only 200 or 300 miles.

      They have a similar article today at Green Car Reports and one of the posters pointed out that there’s a lot of opportunity for moving freight from the docks (think shipping) in LA & SF to the railroads. Maybe this kind of local or regional trucking is enough business to get Tesla started.

      1. unlucky says:

        No one unloads cargo in SF that isn’t going to SF. It’s a peninsula!

        If you unload in the SF Bay Area you unload in Oakland. And the railroads run right up to the docks in Oakland. No need for semis.

        Same thing in Long Beach (LA). The railroads run right out to the water.

        Maybe a need to shunt cargo within the dock area itself? That’s possible. But I can’t see how that squares with the idea of trucking at all. Especially when Musk said long haul.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          There are “yard mule” semi tractors which move standard freight containers within freight yards at a port. Such yard mules are limited to low speeds and limited ranges, and are not streamlined because they never drive at highway speed.

          But that is a market already served by multiple makers of BEV yard mule semi tractors. I think Tesla is aiming at a bigger market, and one that is virtually untapped.

          The question is whether Tesla can make an economic case for that, because nobody has managed to do so yet. If they had, then UPS and FedEx and Wal*Mart and other companies with large fleets of semis would have already switched at least part of their fleets over to using heavy truck BEVs, including some BEV semi tractors.

          The model for selling the BEV semi tractor but renting the battery pack is an interesting one. I’ll be keenly interested to see if Tesla can achieve success with that marketing plan!

  20. unlucky says:

    I honestly don’t expect these semis to be used by anyone but Tesla for some time. Tesla can use them to move parts between their various facilities in Reno, Fremont and in between.

    I don’t expect any significant adoption outside Tesla until there is some kind of proof they are actually cost-effective and reliable.

    You do have to start somewhere though. Why not here?

    Next up for Tesla, a small vehicle to use inside their factory so they can stop using those lead-acid powered carts they have.

  21. Bill Howland says:

    Tesla’s first cab will be a ‘Day Cab’ without a sleeper berth.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Tesla is talking about fully autonomous semi tractors, so at least currently they probably have no plans to ever make a semi tractor with a sleeping cubicle.

      Of course, we will have to see how practical that turns out to be. Not putting a driver into the vehicle would make hijacking it much less legally dangerous, as that would make it only a crime against property, and thus it would make trailers on the road being hauled by self-driving semis a far more attractive target to thieves and hijackers.

  22. Don Zenga says:

    Trucks lead in tonnage.
    Trains lead in ton mileage.
    Transport near rivers uses barge.

    So most of the trucks do short distance transport. A range of 300 miles is ideal for an electric truck.
    Even if a route involves more than that, the driver can take rest after 5 hour drive, charge it and then continue the rest of the trip.

    Still an electric semi is far fetched and ideally they should launch a crossover and hit million vehicle manufacturing capacity before getting into semis.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Tesla is talking about fully autonomous semi tractors, so I don’t think they are looking at anything that’s likely to be put into production within the next two years.

  23. Nelson says:

    While everyone sleeps the Boring company is producing a deep tunnel from the Tesla Factory in Fremont, CA to the Tesla Gigafactory in Sparks, NV. Approximately 260 miles. Simultaneously a few Tesla Semi will be produced to publicly transport parts between the two locations. Highway driven Tesla Trucks will take credit for transport of majority of parts transported autonomously through hidden tunnel. BaHaHa…

    NPNS! SBF!
    Volt#671 + BoltEV

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