First Tesla Semi Video Surfaces

2 days ago by Eric Loveday 76

Tesla Semi Unveil | 11.16 | watch live at Tesla.com, 8pm PT

A post shared by Tesla (@teslamotors) on

The first video of the highly anticipated Tesla semi has hit the Interwebs.

The reveal happens late tomorrow evening. 8 PM Pacific time to be exact.

What do we know in regards to the Tesla semi? Well, Musk says it will “blow your mind clear out of your skull.”

Alternate dimensions may have been mentioned too, along with transforming capabilities, robots and latte making, though we assume much of this is Musk showing his humorous side.

Back to reality, we really have no Tesla-provided details on the semi, so everything is speculative at this point in time. Tesla has been incredibly tight-lipped on this one, so it looks as though we’ll all be waiting until tomorrow night for actual details on this supposedly mind-blowing semi.

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76 responses to "First Tesla Semi Video Surfaces"

  1. Kdawg says:

    Looks like CGI

    1. Kosh says:

      Yup……

    2. Asak says:

      Don’t tell me this is just going to be a CGI demonstration. If so, Tesla is really taking things to the next level….

    3. WadeTyhon says:

      Pretty bad CGI too.

      I don’t expect my mind to be blown on this. I just do not care enough… unless they open up the trailer, and out drives a Model Y prototype! 🙂

      I will be happy to see semis eventually go electric. But it will be a while before that happens and I’ll never get to drive it. No reason to get hyped! XP

      1. James says:

        Name the last time the trucking industry got some primetime airtime and this much hype and excitement.

        To my recollection – never!

        Goofy one-off semi concept trucks have been around, but nothing ever comes of them. Let alone a whole different form of motation and braking.

        It’s a big deal. Especially to those in and around the trucking industry.

        Also a big deal for our planet. Nearly everyting arrives to our homes via a truck.

        1. WadeTyhon says:

          “It’s a big deal. Especially to those in and around the trucking industry.

          Also a big deal for our planet. Nearly everything arrives to our homes via a truck.”

          Like I said, I’ll be happy to see semis go all electric.

          My mind is simply not blown though. Nothing about it shocks or astounds me. And I won’t see them in use for years I don’t think.

          It looks cool for a semi. But I don’t care what a semi looks like. And it’s great that it’s electric. I’m just not personally excited about it.

      2. WadeTyhon says:

        “I don’t expect my mind to be blown on this. I just do not care enough… unless they open up the trailer, and out drives a Model Y prototype!”

        Well I ALMOST predicted this Roadster reveal driving out of the Semi! XD

    4. eltosho says:

      Nope, it’s a real truck. It’s just slick AF 😀

      1. Kdawg says:

        Aren’t bumpy surfaces more aerodynamic though? Think about a golf ball’s surface.

        Maybe time to rethink the design, less for aesthetics, and more for aerodynamics since this is a work vehicle, and not a personal vehicle.

        1. philip d says:

          Maybe drive it slowly across a golf driving range to provide the aero-dimples.

        2. James says:

          Aerodynamics or hydrodynamics. Lots in common. Is a shark covered in divots? Does a sailfish or a falcon have them?

          Golf balls have different aerodynamic properties than a solid moving mass. The breakup of the boundery layer works for a spinning sphere. Not so much for a car or airplane. Otherwise, Boeing and Airbus would be all over it – saving fuel is akin to billions in sales.

          The Mythbusters experiment had so many variables to consider. Too small of a study to really come to any final conclusions.

          The answer that it’s not aesthetically pleasing sounds good – naturally, we won’t buy anything that doesn’t look good, or sleek. But seriously, if an Airstream trailer had small craters in it and was 30% more aero efficient, I’d buy tat one. Who cares how sleek my travel trailer looks?

    5. mhpr262 says:

      Ever car in every single car ad you see on TV and in magazines nowadays is CGI. No more hours of washing and waxing before a photoshoot … in the dusty desert.

  2. F150 Brian says:

    Looks like it might have a hard time turning with no space between the cab and the box.

    1. TheAxMan says:

      Concave curvature of back of cab solves that.

      And closing that gap = huge efficiency win by reducing drag.

      1. GeorgeS says:

        @Axman
        “Concave curvature of back of cab solves that.”

        To match with a custom built Tesla trailer with similar curvature!!

        1. Tom says:

          That has solar panels on the roof of the trailer.

          1. Jim J Fox says:

            Highly unlikely. Highly inefficient.

        2. Mikey says:

          The trailer doesn’t need the curvature because at highway speeds the trailer will always be in a straight line behind the cab. It doesn’t matter that there would be a gap at low speeds.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Clearly aerodynamics are not your forte, and the concept of “turbulence” is foreign to you.

            But I very seriously doubt the trailer is as close behind the cab as this video shows. It’s just really bad CGI.

            It wouldn’t be practical to fit the cab and the trailer that closely together. Every time the tractor hit a bump, BANG! it would dent the tractor, the trailer, or both. Driving up a ramp would be… interesting, and not in a good way!

        3. TheAxMan says:

          @ George — custom trailer not required. curvature on trailer not required. Cab merely needs a roof overhang that is slightly higher and seals the gap.

      2. Asak says:

        It would probably make more sense to use some sort of flexible plastic sheeting to connect the cab to the trailer, rather than having a concave cab and special trailer.

        1. chris5168 says:

          Guess: Battery back attaches to trailer to form convex surface. Truck would clearly fail if it requires special trailers with interior oddly shaped.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            “Truck would clearly fail if it requires special trailers with interior oddly shaped.”

            Truck would clearly fail if it requires special trailers, full stop. Generally speaking, fleet operators are not going to buy semi tractors that they can’t use with existing trailers.

            Selling tractors which require special trailers specifically suited to those tractors, is going to be a tiny niche market. Hopefully Tesla is aiming at a much larger market.

            1. georgeS says:

              @PMPU,

              Custom trailer is optional of course. It will work with either a custom or a regular trailer.

            2. eltosho says:

              And if those special trailers give you 10-15% decrease of the fuel costs?

              1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

                Arguing the economics of the case is pointless. The geometry does not work for the trailer being that closely fitted to the tractor. There needs to be some gap for allowing the tractor to go over bumps and up ramps. Fit the tractor to the trailer as closely as that video shows simply would not work in the real world.

                But if you want to consider the economics as a thought exercise, consider this: A trucking fleet keeps about 5-7 trailers around for each tractor, and the company would also have to supply special trailers to all its clients, or at least all those it wanted to be able to use the BEV semi tractors for.

                You do the math, then tell me if you still think there is an economic case to be made for using non-standard trailers.

        2. Priusmaniac says:

          All what’s needed is to leave the concave space empty which is likely what they did.
          Perhaps with a closing surface at the top just above the trailer height to avoid turbulence.

          1. VazzedUp says:

            Remember, they articulate up and down (bumps, ramps) as well as side to side.

    2. Loboc says:

      A motorized 5th wheel would enable the gap to close as well. Or motorized cab panels.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Panels which move dynamically in response to shifting angles between the cab and the trailer, to close the gap and eliminate turbulence, would be an interesting concept.

        But that’s not what the CGI shows. It’s just really bad CGI.

  3. Yoguet says:

    Will Mazimum Overdrive mode be standard or optional??

    1. georgeS says:

      @Yoquet

      How much could FSD be for a truck??

  4. Bill Howland says:

    Fight off aliens? Make a great latte?

    Sounds like defunct desktops I’ve had in the past – like “World’s Most Expensive BoatAnchor”, or the jokes that went around when HUBBLE launched before corective glasses were attached.

    “Meet the Hubble: The world’s first flying Paperweight.”

    If the semi is decent, these tweets will in time be ignored.

    If it isn’t decent, then these tweets will be the brunt of jokes later.

    Since there is plenty of downside, and little upside to making them, I’m really surprised Musk would do it as this is definitely paving new ground for him.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “If the semi is decent, these tweets will in time be ignored.

      If it isn’t decent, then these tweets will be the brunt of jokes later.”

      These tweets are a joke. So obviously a joke that I’m surprised some people don’t get it.

      Nice to see Elon Musk is willing to have some fun with PR! 😀

  5. Bar says:

    This is terrible animation.

    The turn of a real-life tractor/trailer would not look like that.

    Watch the tail end of the trailer during the turn; it just magically “slides over” laterally.

    1. ClarksonCote says:

      Yeah, it really is pretty awful. Hopefully the actual truck will be much better.

    2. Snowman says:

      It is a steerable rear axle trailer. Pretty common in Europe. (or a bad cgi)

    3. VazzedUp says:

      Na, its real, the backend slides across with that little gap between cab and trailer, the trailer got jammed up to the cab.

  6. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Those worried Tesla is dissipating its resources by going in too many directions at once should take heart at the unrealistic and unfinished nature of this brief CGI video. Clearly Tesla isn’t wasting much money or time on this back burner project!

    And I’m at least half serious here. This very clearly is a project that Tesla has not spent a lot of time and energy on. As I’ve said, what will be shown tomorrow isn’t a production-intent prototype; it will be just a concept vehicle cum technology demonstrator.

    Keep in mind that Elon said the Tesla BEV Semi Truck was to be fully self-driving. Any actual production vehicle, if Tesla ever makes one, will come years down the road, after fully autonomous vehicles are approved for operating on public roads.

    1. georgeS says:

      PMPU said:

      “This very clearly is a project that Tesla has not spent a lot of time and energy on. As I’ve said, what will be shown tomorrow isn’t a production-intent prototype; it will be just a concept vehicle cum technology demonstrator.”

      OK you are on record . we will see tomorrow.

      I think you have a point. The biggest driver from a cost of ownership is fully autonomous vehicle.

      You have to erase the 35% pie cut that the drivers take to make it feasible.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        “I think you have a point. The biggest driver from a cost of ownership is fully autonomous vehicle.”

        You have a point there, GeorgeS, but that wasn’t my point. My point was that all signs point to this BEV Semi Truck being a back-burner project for Tesla, and therefore what will be demonstrated this evening won’t be a production-intent prototype. It will be just a concept vehicle cum technology demonstrator.

        The sloppy, cheap CGI in this very short video is just one more sign pointing to this being a project on which Tesla is not spending a lot of money or other resources. Heck, Elon spent a lot more on the concept video for The Boring Company!

      2. Terawatt says:

        It’s probably the biggest saving potential, but it has nothing to do with electric propulsion. Getting a vehicle to drive itself is hard because it’s difficult to make a machine that can make the right decisions about what to do in all situations, NOT because it’s hard to make the machine control throttle, steering, changing gears and so on. In other words it’s every bit as easy (hard!) to build an autonomous diesel machine as an autonomous EV.

        Fuel cost is higher than driver cost, actually. But while electric propulsion can reduce that A LOT, perhaps by 70-80%, it cannot eliminate it completely. On the other hand it can be built now with no “magic” in the mix (nothing nobody yet knows how to do).

        I think Tesla has something real here that someone will start using. Perhaps some of the bigger companies will buy one or a few to begin trials. And I believe is they do they will soon discover that it’s a very profitable investment, and thus get the snowball rolling…

        But I’m really curious to see what the specs are and above all what Tesla has to say about charging infrastructure for the semi. Unlike a lot of folks here I don’t have firm opinions about any of these specifics. At the same time I’m utterly convinced that electric propulsion fundamentally makes more sense, both financially and environmentally, for heavy, energy-hungry vehicles than for ordinary cars.

        It’ll also be interesting to see if Tesla will use the same rollout as they do for cars. Given the much more expensive fossil fuels in Europe I think demand ought to be considerably stronger there (week, actually here since I’m in Europe).

  7. mx says:

    Camera side “mirrors”.

  8. Bill Howland says:

    Regarding Autonomous Driving:

    Most any modern vehicle, including all trucks with automatic transmissions, can be made autonomous and have the advantage of having an employee of the Truck Stop meet the truck at the diesel pump to refuel it quickly – at a speed that puts any SEMI ev at a clear disadvantage.

    The big savings in employee cost, plus higher utilization rates of autonomous semi’s will clearly put the cost/benefit in their favor.

    I think the ultimate reaction of the Trucking Industry will be something to behold.

  9. DJ says:

    Ok, this blew my mind. 24 hours until the unveiling they release this POC animation!?!?

    Would have been a lot better to just not do anything I have to say.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Gosh yes, Tesla would be so much better off if you were in charge. /snark

      Or rather, it would have gone out of business years ago.

      1. DJ says:

        I genuinely feel sorry for you. How sad of a life you must have having to continuously troll people on the internet. As usual when you have nothing left it must be time to attack other people.

        Maybe try putting the computer down and not spending all day on IEVs and meet some actual people or at a minimum just reduce the amount of trolling and maybe people won’t think you are so pathetic…

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          “I genuinely feel sorry for you. How sad of a life you must have having to continuously troll people on the internet.”

          🙄 I presume you were looking in a mirror when you wrote that?

  10. Don Zenga says:

    If the trailer is built into the tractor, then it will be nearly 60 feet / 18 meters in length and cannot fit into any auditorium.
    So this video should be CGI.

    Anyway I am expecting EM to say something about Model-3 sales.

  11. James says:

    Where’s my Tesla powered sprinter van?

  12. James P Heartney says:

    This has always seemed like kind a weird project for Tesla. A toddler-aged three-model luxury car company expands out into… semi-tractors? Totally different market with totally different needs and customers. Why take it on?

    What expertise did Tesla get from Roadster/S/X/Model 3 that they can leverage to make a tractor? How does credibility from luxury sedans/SUVs help them with fleet truck managers? Just odd.

    1. Roy_H says:

      Almost nothing to do with luxury cars, but Tesla does build high power high efficiency motors. This is the expertise required for trucks.

      Tesla’s goal is to reduce pollution and trucks pollute more than cars.

      1. arne-nl says:

        “trucks pollute more than cars”

        Uuhm, no.

        1 truck pollutes more than 1 car, yes. But since you’re using plural, ‘cars’ are way more numerous than ‘trucks’ and modern trucks are mostly fitted with particulate filters, which can’t be said for all the el cheato diesel cars out there.

        Research it, and you’ll find that cars use about 2x more fossil fuels than trucks. 2x more carbon pollution.

        1. Terawatt says:

          Yes, but carbon isn’t all that is implied by “pollution”.

          In Norway the government not long ago proposed a new tax on heavier cars that was transparently designed to hit Tesla (the weight limit was set so that only Tesla of all EVs in the market would be affected). The stated reason was that heavier cars cause much more particulates because they wear the roads down much more than lighter vehicles. Following this a fact-checking web site owned jointly by multiple mass media firms investigated, and I learned something interesting: not only do particulates increase with axle pressure, but they do so exponentially. In fact, it’s roughly proportional to the square of the cube of axle pressure! In other words on the form

          PM = cm^6

          where PM = particulate matter, c is some unknown constant, and m is mass (actually axle pressure).

          The fact checkers concluded that the proposed regulation was for bollocks reasons. Even though a Model X causes several times as much PM as the average EV, cars are responsible for only ONE PERCENT of road wear and particulates! Heavy transportation causes the remaining 99%!

          In addition to this, NOx is arguably an even more important aspect of pollution from cars and trucks than CO2. It’s certainly a series problem in Europe. And trucks are much worse than cars because (a) nearly all of them are diesels (versus about half of new cars sold in Europe now) and (b) NOx regulations have been even less effectual for trucks than for cars.

          So I don’t agree at all it’s clear cut whether it’s cars or trucks that “pollute more”. On balance I think it’s fair to say trucks are at least as important as cars.

          1. Terawatt says:

            By the way I mention the results may be quite different for the US. In Norway roads are asphalt, not concrete, and trucks use studded tires in winter; both are factors with a huge impact on how much road is ripped up into the air and subsequently inhaled by people and animals.

            The fact checking article (in Norwegian) if anyone wants to test Google translate:

            https://www.faktisk.no/faktasjekker/xVq/tesla-bilene-er-store-tunge-biler-som-sliter-paa-veien

      2. James P Heartney says:

        I can certainly buy the idea that Elon/Tesla are on a mission to deal with vehicle-caused pollution, so trucks are a natural target.

        But electric motors are a very mature bit of engineering, and I don’t think there’s anything all that innovative about Tesla’s motors. Plus the motor is only a small part of building a semi-tractor.

        I wish Tesla well as it does this, but it’s anything but a natural marketing move, and I wonder about their ability to execute. As I write, Tesla is still struggling to produce its latest product in numbers, something that ought to be second nature to a modern manufacturer.

        1. Roy_H says:

          You are totally wrong. Before Tesla, a 100hp electric motor typically weighed about a ton. That is why all previous EVs were referred to as glorified golf carts with anemic performance. Tesla put most of their early research into improving the power to weight ratio of their electric motor and have the patents to prove it.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “This has always seemed like kind a weird project for Tesla.”

      Yes, and furthermore Elon’s obviously joking tweets and this almost embarrassingly bad video suggest to me that this isn’t a project Tesla is taking seriously. Not seriously at all!

      Maybe, just maybe, this whole thing is merely Elon trying to prod truck manufacturers into making a serious effort to develop BEV trucks. And given the recent spate of truck manufacturers advertising electric trucks, I’d say he’s already succeeded at that! Or at least, he’s caused them to seriously think about it.

      1. Terawatt says:

        As usual you give way too much credit to Tesla and way to little to regulations for what’s happening in the transportation sector with electrification. There’s no reason to believe any of the advertised work with electric trucks had anything at all to do with the semi. And much of it precedes the announcement that Tesla would work on a semi. I’m sure in your mind the other carmakers had understood Tesla would be doing it and so they had to hurry up, but if that was the case they would have already been on sale. Witness how quickly and effortlessly GM caught up with and sprinted past Tesla in bringing a long range affordable EV to market – famously the big goal in Elon’s “master plan” since the very beginning. GM got started with that project much later than Tesla and still didn’t have to break a sweat to beat them to market by a year or so!

        I do hope the semi is a success. Someone starting to use electric trucks and finding that it’s not just doable but very profitable will accelerate things – whether it’s a Tesla or some other brand that makes the truck. Given that everyone else wants electrification to happen as slowly as possible it’s only logical that they aren’t pushing the matter. But the preparations they are making are much more likely to offset regulatory risk than to offset the risk that Tesla all of a sudden steals their market.

  13. Another Euro point of view says:

    I am not too interested in this semi thing. Cut throat low margin business, but when Elon twits:

    “This will blow your mind clear out of your skull and into an alternate dimension. Just need to find my portal gun”

    It seems he still didn’t grasp that his public is not made of juvenile imbeciles. Now it could be that his public is really mostly made of juveniles imbeciles, hard for me to check on this.

    1. Al says:

      Well, since his public is primarily made up of juvenile 1% it fits pretty well.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “It seems he still didn’t grasp that his public is not made of juvenile imbeciles.”

      On the contrary, his joking tweets have the happy side effect of functioning as a test to see if Tesla bashers and FUDsters have any sense of humor.

      Guess what? You flunked!
      😆 😆 😆

      1. Another Euro point of view says:

        OK I get it, so one need to be an insider to understand that this is ironic and that in real they are not a pathetic bunch of clowns 🙂
        It gets hard to follow.

        1. Nick says:

          Keep working at it, you’ll get it.

          Humor can be subtle. When Elon says his truck transforms and can make lattes that’s a form of humor.

          Go forth fellow human!

  14. Steve says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the unveil included a car carrying trailer attached to the new semi with loads of new Model 3s for delivery.

  15. Vexar says:

    I bet it transforms just a little. I also wager it has enough power to drive a BAE Gauss Cannon, which is our best mass-driver weaponry yet, and that should be pretty good against an alien vessel in our atmosphere. At the very least, it should be powerful enough to tow a SpaceX rocket from port to launch pad at Vandenberg or Cape Canaveral, which aids in the fight against alien attacks. I’m sure there’s a cab configuration with an interior latte machine. You all are so dour. Come on, cheer up a little. Sure, whoever released the video of the un-articulated cab and trailer did so in less than an hour, but my guess is that it wasn’t done for anything more than a quick bumper animation. You know, like the good-guy badge spinning forward, then flipping to the bad-guy badge.

    1. Vexar says:

      Everything but the latte’ machine. Was right otherwise, it does transform a little!

  16. bro1999 says:

    I see Tesla is having college interns do their CGI animations. Interns are at least free labor.

    1. mxs says:

      But apparently the bad CGI has people talking and posting already. We are so screwed as a population overall … LOL

  17. Alex-VE says:

    It’s not a video.
    It’s a computer anumation.

  18. terminaltrip421 says:

    apparently I struck a nerve. very professional of you guys to make purposefully misleading statements and then delete a comment calling you out on it.

  19. James says:

    One thing is for sure. The truck that was on the flatbed is the Tesla. Looks exactly like this animation.

    So we’ve already seen it. Probably really ticked off Musk!

    The surprise factor just went out the window. No big deal though as the angels are in the details.

  20. Serial anti tesla troll thomas says:

    Let’s see the Tesla specs. http://www.eforce.ch has already 18t trucks running on Swiss streets. And these days a semi truck was also introduced.

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