Tesla Semi To Use Model 3 Motors, Other Interchangeable Parts

1 month ago by Eric Loveday 20

Tesla recently gave us a “first sneak peek” at its Semi-Truck project

Tesla’s largest vehicle will incorporate parts straight from its smallest car.

Yesterday, 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. It’s anyone’s guess at this point, really. Assuming each motor puts out a minimum of 200 hp, the result with 6 would be plenty enough power to move a big rig along at a decent clip. Gobs of torque would be on hand too.

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.

Here is Musk’s 2p on the topic from yesterdays conference call directly when asked about the Semi-Truck project (and partnering with another manufacturer to get it done) by Consumer Edge Research analyst James Albertine:

“No, we will manufacture that ourselves. Most of that semi is actually made out of Model 3 parts by the way. It’s actually using a bunch of Model 3 motors, without revealing too much about the future of it, so we are able to use a very high volume vehicle, and then combine several motors to have (pause) I think it’s actually going to have a very good gross margin like…not something that the other…it’s like you can’t do that with a traditional truck. So effectively (the Semi-Truck) was just a very compelling product that has low unit cost.”

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.

What’s very apparent to us is that Tesla is taking this semi idea seriously.

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

Source: Clean Technica

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20 responses to "Tesla Semi To Use Model 3 Motors, Other Interchangeable Parts"

  1. ClarksonCote says:

    One potentially huge benefit of an electric semi, if Tesla is able to pull it off, is the amount of fuel/emissions savings when NOT driving.

    The driver can be sleeping or resting in the back of the cab with plenty of heat, AC, or auxiliary power on hand, without any need to have an aux generator running.

    1. ThombdBhomb says:

      Driver sleeping or resting? Robots don’t need to sleep or rest.

      1. Serial anti tesla troll thomas says:

        ..and if everything is done by robots and everyone has lost its job nobody has money to buy something and therefore no goods must be transport and therefore no need of trucks anymore and therefore no need od Tesla….

        1. jelloslug says:

          Think of all the poor buggy whip manufacturers!

          1. Mikey says:

            It’s a real concern. It’s easy for well-off people who have high paying jobs to pooh-pooh jobs like truck driving, but not everybody wants to be (or can be) a computer programmer (like myself).

            Hopefully the transition to self-driving trucks takes place over a long enough period of time that most of the job losses can be due to attrition, to ease the pain.

            However, I there whenever there is a big push to completely eliminate an entire type of jobs, there should be an equal push to retrain those people (for free) to work in another area. For example, I’m in favor of eliminating coal burning power plants, but the coal workers really are being thrown under the bus. Does anybody think that those workers can just retrain themselves to be computer programmers and find a job in the mountains in West Virginia? What we should do, particularly in this case since the push to eliminate coal is a government push, is provide absolutely free (and good) training to all coal workers to become wind turbine installers, manufacturers, repairmen, etc. It would be the humane thing to do, and it pushes renewable energy up while pushing coal down. It’s a win win.

            But it’s much easier for people with secure jobs to just mock the displaced people instead.

          2. William says:

            The Tesla Buggy Whip is a great idea! Elon can use it on his production line staff, so I can get my Model 3 at least a day or two sooner!

            1. David says:

              Lol,lets send him one as a birthday gift!

        2. philip d says:

          One day when the robots make the robots and robots mine the materials for the robots then our economic system won’t be like anything we’ve ever seen since the beginning of humanity.

          People won’t buy products and services created by people who have expended calories over a set period of time with money they’ve earned by expending calories over a set amount of time like we do now. The robots will do all of that. Our economy will provide basics to everybody because there will be no downside to this but beyond that what has value and what the currency of the culture is will be something else.

          So trucks will still exist and will still ship things they just won’t be owned and operated the way they are now. Of course that is if we ever survive the transition between the two types of economy.

          There will be massive loss of jobs in all sectors but we will still live in a capitalistic culture that demands people contribute capital for capital in return. The smaller but more powerful group on top that has the most to loose from transitioning away from this system won’t go quietly.

          And you might say that this sure sounds a lot like communism. Well yes. But in this case the robots are all the proletariat class working for free and for us. I don’t think they’ll mind. And then humans will sort of be the Politburo making all of the decisions on what projects this robot working class should accomplish next.

          So I’d imagine this is the space where status among human culture will move to. Some sort of other type of currency might be the power of who gets to make these decisions. We’ll probably still kill each other over it. It’ll be fun.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            “There will be massive loss of jobs in all sectors but we will still live in a capitalistic culture that demands people contribute capital for capital in return.”

            No, this is a failure of vision on your part. A society in which humans are all entitled slave owners, and robots are slaves working tirelessly for the benefit of masters, is no longer a capitalist economy. In fact, it’s no longer even an economy of scarcity; it’s an economy of plenty.

            This world has never seen an economy of plenty! It would transform our world in ways we cannot even begin to imagine.

            (Science fiction fans may enjoy James P. Hogan’s novel Voyage to Yesteryear, which posits a future utopia based on the idea of an economy of plenty. George O. Smith’s short story “Pandora’s Millions”, part of the Venus Equilateral series, is a rather dystopian view of the same economic concept.)

  2. georgeS says:

    Wow fascinating. Sounds like a production intent vehicle. In addition to the Model 3 Motors I bet they us multiple P100D packs as well.

    I’m seriously questioning PMPU’s thoughts that this will just be a concept vehicle.

    Thing is Tesla will need a whole new Super Charger network just for trucks IMO. …and that won’t be cheap.

    1. ClarksonCote says:

      Why a new one? They are already making pass through stalls that could accommodate semi trucks.

      If you ask me, hey can leverage that same infrastructure of super chargers for “slow charging” overnight semi use.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        That’s like saying that ordinary gas stations can handle filling up diesel semi tractor-trailer rigs, if they are physically configured so the rig can pull right up to the pump.

        No, they can’t; the rig would block other pumps, and ordinary filling stations aren’t equipped to dispense the volume of fuel that big rigs need.

        If and when we get BEV heavy trucks, then we’ll need special-built BEV truck stops, just as now we have special-built diesel truck stops for those big rigs.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “I’m seriously questioning PMPU’s thoughts that this will just be a concept vehicle.”

      Certainly the quotes here from Elon Musk have caused me to seriously question my own prediction. Elon is talking it up as if he intends for Tesla to start producing it.

      However, a lot of what he says doesn’t add up, at least not for me. I’m going to stick to my prediction. If I’m wrong, I’ll eat a large dish of crow, and won’t even demand salt for it. 😉

  3. Alan says:

    Not sure what the law is in the US about drivers taking regular breaks but in Europe they have to take them every couple of hours, this might help negate the issue of having to use such huge batteries to some extent.

    Supercharger stops on major routes would probably resolve the problem somewhat.

    Napkin math, 2 powerpacks would weigh 7,150lbs and give 420kWh, would that be enough ?

    1. Alan says:

      I wonder what the regen would be on something like this !

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “Napkin math, 2 powerpacks would weigh 7,150lbs and give 420kWh, would that be enough ?”

      1. Tesla Powerpacks are intended for stationary storage, and would be too heavy and likely too large for proper use in an over-the-road vehicle.

      2. My “napkin math” suggests that a BEV semi tractor that stops for lunch to do either battery swapping, or a half hour of fast charging, would need 1080 kWh. We can reasonably assume that Tesla, by engineering for greater efficiency, might reduce that by 15-20%, but even reduced by 20% that would still be an 864 kWh battery pack.

      But based on Musk’s comments quoted here, I’m now leaning toward Tesla’s BEV semi tractor concept vehicle using a tech such as battery swapping or on-the-fly charging to claim they don’t need to use a very large and very expensive battery pack.

      Perhaps we should go back and look at earlier discussions when the consensus was that Tesla’s BEV semi tractor would have a range of only 200-250 miles. In fact, from Elon’s comments quoted here, it may have an even smaller range (without recharging) than that.

  4. KM says:

    Waiting for videos of this truck leaving Ferrari in the dust while going up hill fully loaded ☺

    1. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sven says:

      . . . while towing a car trailer full of Ferraris.

      There, I fixed it for you. 😀

      1. V2 says:

        What's faster? An @AlfaRomeo #4C or an @AlfaRomeo #4C… being towed by a @teslamotors #ModelX #P90D #ludicrous? @jasoncammisa

        A post shared by Earth's Automotive Authority (@motortrend) on

        Still remember this Motortrend video from a year ago

  5. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Well, I’m scratching my head. Other than the idea of using multiple Model 3 motors for the powertrain, nothing about what Musk said there makes sense.

    Musk said “we are able to use a very high volume vehicle”. That sounds like they’re just buying a glider from a company which makes diesel semi tractors, and putting an EV powertrain into it. That seems to contradict his statement “No, we will manufacture that ourselves”. But perhaps that latter quote referred only to the electric motors?

    There’s also this: “So effectively (the Semi-Truck) was just a very compelling product that has low unit cost.”

    Ummm… not if it’s going to have a battery pack with enough capacity to give it a longer range than a diesel semi!

    I’m getting the idea here that Tesla’s BEV semi concept vehicle (I’m still predicting it’s intended to be merely a concept vehicle, despite Musk strongly implying otherwise) won’t have the huge battery pack that those of us doing “napkin math” have agreed it needs. I’m now thinking it’s more likely that Tesla will claim that some technology such as battery swapping or on-the-fly charging will enable use of a much smaller battery pack.

    On-the-fly charging will of course always be unimaginably too expensive for general use, but some city buses do use that to assist with power for EV buses. So Tesla might be able to demo such a system, ignoring the fact that city buses used in relatively low speed, stop-and-go traffic, with plenty of stops for brief recharging, are a very long way from using as much energy (and power) as a loaded semi tractor-trailer needs for running 11 hours per day at Interstate speed!

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