Tesla Master Plan Part 2 More Brazen Than Part 1


“What? Nothing about motorcycles at all? We need a better browser, Batman.”

“What? Nothing about motorcycles at all? We need a better browser, Batman.”


Nikola One Electric Truck - Not A Tesla

Nikola One Electric Truck – Not A Tesla

TeslaMondo is writing this in full hermit mode, having read ZERO reactions from anyone else.

You’ve got a brain ache right now? That’s a good sign. It means Tesla is still Tesla. Like a good college professor, Musk knows how to stoke the imagination. Thank you for this cranial workout.

Looks like everyone was a little bit right. Car-sharing is a go. Solar integration is a go. Autonomy inevitable. But nobody predicted Tesla would so brazenly move into “semi” or “bus” territory. That’s probably because there’s no sexy side to those markets. They’re all gritty and dirty-like. But it’s exciting to hear that Tesla will apply first-principles reasoning in a quest to, oh, reinvent ground transport. Of course, the English language might not suit the products on Tesla’s whiteboards. The word “semi” evokes images that likely lead us far astray.

A Tesla pickup truck, eh? TeslaMondo no gusta. Thank goodness it’s a “different kind” of pickup, but still, that’s a fickle-as-hell segment for Tesla to chance. If starting a car company is idiotic, and an electric car company is idiocy squared, then an electric pickup is idiocy cubed, at least for now. The company isn’t financially robust enough to soak up a flop, or even a moderate disappointment. In other words, a Toyota Tundra.

Tesla Bus (?) Modeled After Volkswagen Kombi

Tesla Bus (?) Modeled After Volkswagen Kombi

Full autonomy to include sleeping in your car, eh? Only until you’re jolted awake by a collision with a dumb ol’ Toyota Mr2 Spyder registered to TeslaMondo.

No apparent need for a cheaper vehicle than Model III, contrary to what Musk said just three months ago about a Gen IV car? Interesting. Model III will probably generate rental income for the owner, he says now. So Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley was onto something with his loaded questions during Tesla conference calls. He’s undoubtedly smiling right now.

And we all should be smiling. Ground transportation might see more innovation in the next decade than in the past century. Why didn’t Musk write those words? Speaking of Musk, how much of this master plan will he personally oversee as CEO? And speaking of words, did he really write MP Deux while listening to 2Pac Shakur? That’s quite a hindrance. Everyone knows it’s Flava Flav who really gets the verbiage flowin’. If only Melania Trump had called him, maybe she would have come off sounding brain-knowledgeably wizzy.

*Editor’s Note: This and other Tesla-related posts appear on TeslaMondo. Check it out here.

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58 Comments on "Tesla Master Plan Part 2 More Brazen Than Part 1"

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In my opinion, a pure EV (Tesla semi-truck) capable of large payloads and range is pure science fiction (weight- & price-wise).

Anyone who disagrees:

Let me know the battery capacity for a PURE (BEV) semi-truck with large payload and a range of, say, 500+ miles.

Semi-trucks drive long distances daily.

That’s why other approaches (Nikola Motor) use CNG / LNG.

Tesla always talks about pure BEVs.

How does this make sense for a semi-truck?

PPS: I have nothing against EVs, they make sense in many scenarios, but an EV semi-truck is a very dumb idea in my opinion.

We already have 200-mile buses.

Seems like a version of Moore’s Law (albeit on a milder slope) *is* working for EV battery capacity/cost.

This means that the unimaginable today, will be perfectly ordinary 20 years from now.

As a case in point:
In 2011-2 after people saw what the early Leaf/Volt are capable of, and what they’re not, how many people thought that both companies will be available to put out a BEV with ~3x the range of the original Leaf and at the same price point, within 6 years?

And how many people were, instead, harping on the limitations and cost of the 2011/2 Leaf and Volt, as if that’s a permanent reality?

Seeing 20 years ahead, realizing what’s possible and then working to realize it. That’s why Elon Musk is the most famous name in green-tech world, and you and me are not 😉

“We already have 200-mile buses.”

A (passenger) bus is a VERY different beast.
Look at BYD in China, tons of EV bus sales.
Nothing against that.

My objection is to a semi-truck with a HUGE PAYLOAD (that’s where these types of vehicles are used for over hundreds of miles a day).

It does boggle the mind, though some peoples minds are easily boggled.

some pessimistic minds, maybe.

Hint : look at the supercharger network diesel vs kWh price etc and it would make Sense given a battery price of ~$100/kWh. Perfect Sense.

“it would make Sense given a battery price of ~$100/kWh. Perfect Sense.”

Let me know realistic kWh battery capacity (and weight and range) estimates.

Highly doubt it makes even at $100/kWh on pack level.

And then add charger (current Superchargers won’t be enough by far) costs on top.

You don’t seem to question your own assumptions at all. Is it really a given that an electric semi must necessarily have huge range to be viable? I don’t think so. A fully loaded hauler is indeed using a lot of energy. So much, in fact, that fuel is more costly than the driver. It’s not uncommon to consume $40 an hour, and drivers don’t make that much. Latency is not the most important factor in long-haul trucking. Cost effectiveness is. Of course if all else is equal higher utilization means more cost-effective operation – but when comparing a hypothetical EV semi with a diesel truck all else isn’t equal. One way to minimize the time lost to refueling stops is to swap batteries instead of charging them while we wait. Multiple attempts at such schemes have failed, as we all know, but I think a great solution has been invented that make swapping really work, as well as provide multiple other advantages: string batteries! If you haven’t heard of them, Google and be amazed. The idea is brilliantly elegant. Basically each cell is packaged with microcontrollers so it becomes part of a BMS. They look like small eggs and… Read more »

I am friends with some pioneers of the EV conversion industry, and they always said tractors (the farm kind, mind you) were the ideal conversion because they need to be heavy anyway so the batteries essentially add ballast. Same with forklifts. Now Semi’s don’t *have* to be heavy, but the fact that they are means the battery weight isn’t such a problem, and without an engine, there is lots of space for the batteries (the entire engine compartment, which could provide several layers, including the area beneath the cab, plus the chassis. Personally, I think EV 18-wheelers are a good fit.

When the battery pack has to be so large and so heavy that it becomes a large fraction of the semi tractor’s weight limit… then it’s a problem. And that’s ignoring the question of cost.


From this link you will see that there are FIVE companies that are making electric trucks. They have been doing that for years.

I am surprised that Tesla did not do it earlier.


tftf said : “I have nothing against EVs”
Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

It’s the reason why you find something negative about them in every post ?

My posts are about Tesla buring shareholder money.

I had and have a fairly positive outlook on BYD and Renault-Nissan among others.

My completely negative view on Tesla doesn’t mean I’m anti-EV as a category.

A semi-truck EV is a really dumb idea in my opinion – much like EV airplanes at this point.

Tesla already made 3 costly strategy errors in 2016:

1. $SCTY bailout

2. Faster Model3 ramp (more risk and more cap-ex by 2018 insteaf of 2020, keep unrealistic $35k base price)

3. SIX (!) new car models, including a semi-truck BEV?!

Well, it is just a matter of your opinion. Using bullet points of what Tesla did wrong does not inspire confidence. You make the common error of thinking that you are smarter than you actually are.

No, he is only doing his job conditioning the public opinion as he is told by his P.R. bosses. The more you repeat a lie… Propaganda 101

I hate to tell you this but BYD and Renault-Nissan burn through share holder/company money the same as Tesla you just dont notice it because they are established manufactures… NEWSFLASH… Tesla stockholders understand this which is why there stock is not cheap…. A semi-truck EV is a extremely intelligent idea and so are EV airplanes… just my opinion since Semis only get 6 mpg there is a huge cost savings to be had… Tesla already made 3 awsome strategy decisions in 2016: 1. $SCTY buy which Elon said will be approved by Tesla stock holders who actually understand business and have their money on the line 2. Faster Model3 ramp which negates the risk of established manufactures gaining more traction in the EV market and having a 35k base price that will net them good profits and the ability to upsell for further profits 3. SIX (!) new car models, including a semi-truck BEV is genius for their long term plans that will be played out over the next 10 years Little men think small and big men think big and take risk backed up by the work they do… Engineers build the future not the past and what one… Read more »


Well said, +1!

If your semi tractor is only getting 6 mpg, you are not making money these days. Maybe in 1960. I think most SCR equipped diesels in the 13 liter range are better than 8 mpg these days. Some approach 10 mpg if driven properly with aero gear on the trailer. Where have you been?

Tesla doesn’t work for the shareholders. Tesla works for the future, a clean future. The money they generate is not why they do it, it is just a necessity to be able to do what they do.

Just sell (or don’t buy) their shares if you don’t understand what they are doing. You will be in the good company of Warren Buffett, who said “I don’t trade what I don’t understand.”

tftf said:

“My completely negative view on Tesla doesn’t mean I’m anti-EV as a category.”

But the only posts you make at InsideEVs are Tesla bashing posts. You make those posts because you think it will benefit your “short” stock position, not because you actually believe any of the FUD nonsense you post.

If you do have positive thoughts about EVs in general, you never bother to post them.

In short, you contribute nothing to InsideEVs worthy of reading. It’s all negative and all B.S.

How about an electric semi with large payload and medium range? Enough say to get it to the next swap/charging station, a couple of hundred miles away?

Scenario: Driver pulls in empty and needs to get to his next stop on schedule. Pulls into station, pulls up over an automated battery swap trough and gets a recharged set of batteries. Then off he goes!

Another scenario: Driver’s been at it all night and is ready for some grub and sleep. Pull in, plugs in. He doesn’t need a swap as he’s going to crash for a few hours.

Another cool thing to have, say at a loading port, would be an inductive charging track to keep the trucks topped up while they’re waiting to pick up a load.

All cool ideas

I was contemplating this the other day and I found a webpage [1] where somebody did a back-of-the-envelope calculation that to transport 80000 lbs (the maximum total weight of a semi truck trailer setup allowed by law) 300 miles it would require a 950 kWh battery pack. How much would such a battery pack cost? Since we’re talking about Tesla here and they claim they can make model S battery packs for less than $190/kWh [2], a 950 kWh pack would be around $180k. That is roughly what you spend on fuel in 3 years, so it’s probably in the “acceptable” region. How much would such a battery pack weigh? Tesla’s 85 kWh pack weighs 1200 lbs [3] giving roughly 14 lbs/kWh or 13300 lbs for the 950 kWh. That is quite a lot but then again you save a couple of thousands of pounds because you don’t need a diesel engine and a complicated gear box so let’s say the pack adds 10k lbs of weight. Regular semi trucks weigh around 20k lbs so the battery will add 50% weight to the tractor and lose 10k lbs of load capacity. This is a problem. And even bigger problem though… Read more »

Excellent write-up. Maybe also consider 5% improvement in battery tech each year over 10 years. That nets around 1.6 times improvement.

tftf said: “In my opinion, a pure EV (Tesla semi-truck) capable of large payloads and range is pure science fiction (weight- & price-wise).” Well, I was ready to post that I agree, but then I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations (see below for my figures and analysis). I did something less comprehensive in a post a couple of days ago, looking at just the weight, but I made a rather large math error, so it’s a lot less impractical than I thought at that time. Cost… yeah, that’s the deal-killer. I’m not sure I agree that the price puts it into the realm of fantasy, or “science fiction” as you term it; but I do think the non-competitive price for a BEV heavy truck is why, for example, Smith Electric hasn’t been able to make a go of selling them. But you’re rather lowballing the needed range when you say 500 miles, tftf. To be really competitive, to go the maximum distance a typical trucker might drive in a day, and have a bit of safety margin at the end, we’ll need to see a range of ~750 miles. Smith Electric hasn’t tried to sell semi tractors, but they have tried… Read more »

As an engineer I did a fairly detailed calculation on this scenario for european circumstances. This was feasible already for 1.5 years ago. The circumstances have only improved since then… The calculation was made on a typical european scenario; i.e.following the rules regarding driver fatigue (resting pauses). It was quite possible to have a vehicle with suitable range, recharging characteristics and payload capacity. This is not, I repeat, not, sci fi.

Where this might make sense is where the major interstates had power delivery services, either overhead or underground. Then, the battery would be for the last mile (so to speak). That would take a huge investment. collaboration with and planning by our government, so we all know that aint happening 🙁

PS: And don’t forget charging. A bus usually has a set route and charge after each shift or overnight.

A truck must be charged all over the country in transit.

Imagine the charger capacities needed for these batteries!

Even 350 kW is probably not enough.

The entire idea is simply crazy in my opinion.

PS: And as if Tesla didn’t have enough other projects, the Model3 ramp alone to 500k units by 2018 is crazy enough and uses most funds – WHY ON EARTH START A SEMI-TRUCK PROJECT IN PARALLEL ???

Elon is not going to introduce this without a charger network planned, so don’t act like that’s the case. Yes, it’s crazy to many folks because it is way outside the lines. It also happens to be genius. And btw, Tesla has always been working on the next big thing- it’s how all of these companies operate.

Because it is a gigantic market.

Heavy Trucks are a gigantic market? Maybe 250,000 units per year in the US for all brands. Less than 2% of passenger car volume if I recall. A little bigger if you go down to class 7 (so called medium heavy duty) and below. Still, gigantic? You mean in the space they occupy?

250,000 (units) x 100,000 (cost) equals 25 billion

That is a market worth competing in when you have compelling and disruptive technology…

Doing some rough estimating, I would guess your 350kWh is probably good for about a 60 mile range in an EV-semi.

I am guessing this based on 1 gallon of gas/diesel = 34 kWh so 350 kWh has the energy equivalent of 10 gallons of diesel. A semi gets maybe 6 mpg at best. Buses are a bit better because the stop and go nature allows for more regenerative braking and the aerodynamic drag is much less at lower speeds.

You forgot to account for the fact the electric drive train could be 3X more efficient. That get us to 180 miles. Better…

In your calculation, you assume energy efficiency to be the same, it’s not.
Here are my rough estimations.
On 34kWh, a Volt goes about 140 miles at highway speed compared to a Cruze that does 40 miles on a gallon of gas on the highway.
So about 3.5 times as much on the same energy for EV.
If an ICE truck does 6 mpg X 3.5 = 21mpg equivalent.
so a 100kWh battery pack could do about 65 miles in a rig or a 1000kWh would travel over 600 miles,10 hour drive continuous. Charge overnight, repeat. Very doable and much, much more than your estimation.
Of course, a 1000kWh pack would be over $100k added cost to the rig but the payback period would be less than 5 years.

I did calculations on this using standard fuel consumptions figures for max loaded semis in European scenarios (60 tonnes gross). With a range of 250 miles you would need somewhere around 450-500 kwh. This range i suitable as there are stringent laws in regards of resting pauses which will create natural recharge stops along the way with the approximate distance of about 300KM. This was doale for 1.5 years agio when I did the calculations. In one years time, well the battery pricess has gone down, and their capacity up. This is plausible, and has been for some time.

The conversion efficiency of the electric power train is at least twice that of the conventional truck. Plus conventional trucks don’t have regen.

So perhaps we can multiply your numbers by 2 or 3…..so 180 miles with a stretch. Now double that so 700 kwh or roughly 10 Model S 70’s.

Sounds doable….but the charging infrastructure seems like it may be a challenge. Tesla can probably get around the high demand charges since they will be able to generate and store their own electricity.

Even if they don’t generate it themselves and they have to rely on the local utility for it, they could drop the demand charges by slowly filling up some very large packs at the charge port.

You can bet Elon has a bunch of engineers that have already figured most of this out and determined it is feasible.

Without an R&D project to throw a lot of cash at Tesla might eventually show a profit. We can’t have that!

Because now, with less than 100.000 cars delivered a year, Tesla has already difficulties with cars deliveries by truck that they have to go by train. So, it’s not difficult the brain of Elon summing Tesla electric semis with later autonomous capabilities delivering 1 million cars a year all over the world!:)
Well, I’m only joking to try to make the ambience less thick…But if I’m right few years from now, I should go to take a lottery ticket!

Yes tftf, anything that loses you money on your tesla shorts is “simply crazy” to quote yourself!

With this announcement it is obvious what the future of charging will be and it will not be the problem:


tftf ranted:

“…the Model3 ramp alone to 500k units by 2018 is crazy enough and uses most funds – WHY ON EARTH START A SEMI-TRUCK PROJECT IN PARALLEL ???”

You do realize this is a long-term, back-burner type research project? Elon’s “Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan” (Part One) blog post was published almost exactly 10 years ago. And now we have the “Master Plan (Part Two)”.

It seems quite appropriate to me for a BEV company to be looking forward to 10 years from today, when a BEV semi might be practical.

If Eastman Kodak hadn’t shelved the digital camera they invented in 1975, if they had instead created a back-burner project to develop it, then quite possibly they wouldn’t have been left behind in the digital camera revolution, and would still be an industry leader today… rather than going bankrupt.

I wonder How much energy a trailer with energy efficient solar panels on top can generate? Could it make any difference?

E Force One has it already. It adds 23%


That’s actually not bad!

Imagine autopilot solar-powered road trains like in Australia:


“The solar panels on the roof of the truck ***along with the recuperation*** provides 23 percent of the total energy of the vehicle

Let’s not forget the trailers. That’s a lot of extra floor space for batteries and maybe an auxiliary motor.

Yes but the problem is that you are supposed to be able to switch trailers, that is the point with “semi”.


If your BEV semi tractor only works with a trailer which has solar cells on the roof, and an auxiliary electric motor, then you’ve gone from being able to handle 90+% of the semi trailers being used today, to less than 0.1%.

Talk about limiting your market!

“Ah,” you say, “but couldn’t a trucking fleet which uses its own trailers use that concept?”

Sure, they could sell off all their current trailers and buy an entire set of new ones all at once; ones which cost quite significantly more than a typical trailer. I don’t see a lot of trucking companies rushing to do that!

Semi tractors may be expensive, but semi trailers are supposed to be relatively cheap, and interchangeable. Any scheme which makes the trailers expensive, and sharply limits the interchangeability, will fail.

So why is Tesla worried about long-haul tractor trailers (if they wanted to keep things moving efficiently they’d emphasize ELECTRIC TRAINS), or trains in general, and minimize tractor usage in general – when they could more practically make a huge dent in the truck market by giving the F-150 some competition? Or didn’t he want to take on the highest volume, most popular vehicle in the states?

1. Why would you characterize Tesla creating what is apparently a back-burner project to develop an EV semi (presumably BEV, altho Elon didn’t specifically say so… so perhaps not!) as being “worried” about it? Auto makers develop prototypes and concept cars all the time. I’ve never heard of that happening because the company was “worried” about the tech involved!

2. Did you not notice that Elon’s “Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (Part Two)” includes “a new kind of pickup truck”?

I am currently working with trains. Electric or not this is a dead end technology. The real future is in autonomous battery powered semis… They are astoundingly flexible and share as a common infrastructure with equally flexible personal transports (AKA cars). Trains is suitable for mass transport long distances (ores, coal, grain and so forth).

The num 1 thing with Tesla Semis is that they are not going to be produced today tomorrow or next year…
In 5 years it is very feasable that battery prices can be at 100 per kw and that dependability has gone up while kg and volume per kw have gone down substantialy…
Not to mention charging willmlook different and be faster…