Tesla Semi Examined From A Mechanics Perspective – Video


He’s seems surprisingly upbeat about losing his job.

There have been all kinds of hot takes on the Tesla Semi since its splashy reveal a couple weeks ago, but this one comes from a completely different perspective: that of a truck mechanic. Our man here is not just any truck mechanic, though. He is, as the kids would say, woke to the EV revolution and its impact on jobs, particularly his own.

Tesla Semi

Tesla Semi drive units

Apparently our camo-clad commentator watched the Tesla Semi presentation — he may even have taken notes, because he has all the information down pretty pat — and has been thinking about what it means for the guys who work hard to keep those big diesels chugging.

Basically, he believes he and his truck-fixing compadres will be “out of a job in the next ten to fifteen years.” The only thing left to do would be, he believes, is change tires and, maybe, wheel bearings. That line about Tesla guaranteeing its drivetrain for a million miles really made an impression!

So, grab some popcorn and enjoy! In case you’re wondering what a fifth wheel is, that is the roughly-horseshoe-shaped part on the back of the tractor that the trailer connects with. Traditionally, they were heavily greased because they see a lot of friction, but they now may use a polymer-coated version that’s a lot cleaner.

If that’s not enough truck talk for you, we’ve included a bonus clip below of a trucker who serves up a reminder that heavy duty diesel trucks are not always rock-solid reliable. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Tesla can live up to its million-mile promises, but certainly the status quo is ripe for disruption.

Source: YouTube

Hat tip to C Davis!

Categories: Tesla, Trucks

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

56 Comments on "Tesla Semi Examined From A Mechanics Perspective – Video"

newest oldest most voted

3 flaws with the video…
1) He states it’s costs the same as an ice semi…It doesn’t, they’re roughly a third more..:
2) Assumes the vehicle is more reliable and maintenance free; most Tesla’s are not, especially the earliest ones…
3) Assumes the 1M mile warranty will be around forever…

Price could go down, could be maintenance free/reliable & Tesla could still have the 1M mile warranty on all new purchases in 2050, but all that is super doubtful…there’s also limited details on charging,
& how Tesla can guarantee $.07/mile…

Tesla makes sense if you buy 3 to use the convoy mode…as a single fleet truck it will cost more than Diesel, yet you do get additional exposure as owning the cool vehicle…

#1. Actually the price Tesla quotes for the base vehicle, not the extended range one, is exactly the same figure I cited in my Ballpark Feasibility Case for BEV Semi Truck” analysis:

“Typical price of a relatively high-end new semi tractor: $150,000”

Sure, you can find cheaper ones. But those cheaper ones won’t have most of the electronics in the cab which the Tesla Semi Truck has.

What electronics are missing? How much does it cost to add them to the aftermarket? Are we sure Tesla will offer their full suite of software without any additional up front fees or subscription fees?

Bacardi asked:

“What electronics are missing?”

I don’t think I have an informed opinion, but in a widely cited rant/article about the Tesla Semi Truck, an ex-trucker had this to say:

The trucks I drove had one necessary third-party device in the cab, a Qualcomm computer to communicate with HQ, and I put a portable GPS unit on the windshield. That was it. The truck cabin photo Musk used during the presentation had a Qualcomm-type unit, plus a traditional GPS, plus an iPad with a GPS display, plus another small display I couldn’t identify.

I think much or most (but not all) of his rant/article was off-base or at least quite biased, but for the sake of fairness here’s the link to the full rant/article:


I thought that Tesla said the 300 mile semi would be $150k and the 500 mile semi $180k?


Never mind, reading comprehension isn’t my strong suit, apparently. Argh…

You’re numbers look accurate, not sure if the mods corrected your original numbers…

A Peterbilt 389 is pretty much a middle of the road rig, better than most maybe, and it starts at $110k.

Well, he certainly is enthusiastic, but it seems rather strange to hear him keep saying “I heard”… as though the source of all the info he’s giving isn’t the official Tesla video of the Tesla Semi Truck’s Reveal event!

I also have to wonder about the lack of common sense displayed by someone who jumps in his car and drives down the road just so he can talk to the camera mounted in the car. Wouldn’t it be better to talk to the camera while the car is sitting still? Or better yet, take the camera out and mount it somewhere better suited to making a video recording of a speech?

Talk about distracted driving!

Two things going on here: he may be more relaxed behind the wheel than staring at a camera in a quiet room.

It is adding some variety to the scene.

Its pretty common on Youtube. In fact, I just watched a video on the Tesla Model 3 Owner’s Club channel where he did the same thing.

Not that this guy doesn’t have other YouTube accounts but his other videos meshup with him being a semi mechanic…I do think he did this with the intention of it going viral.

I love how the Roadster managed to sneak into this guy’s monologue.

So glad he didn’t mention a “lorry.”

Lorries R’Us here in the UK!

Listen to him, he has a beard.

Especially if it’s the beard of knowledge.

+1 for the rare MHP reference

I wonder how many times this time of year, when small kids see him, ask their parents, “Why is Santa wearing a funny hat?” Or maybe he really is Santa? He does seem to know all and he checks out the products in a shop a lot. 🙂

As a veteran of many Apple presentations, I’m careful about accepting sales claims at face value. There may well be hidden gotchas that even Musk may not know about till they have lots of these things on the road. Plus the pricing and million-mile guarantee are nice-sounding, but who knows if they’ll actually deliver on them.

I do think transportation electrification is the future, and part of that will include elimination of a lot of the labor involved in keeping ICE vehicles running. And it might even be Tesla leading the way. But I think we need to see a bit more execution before we take all the claims at face value.

Fair. I am hoping Tesla does change the shipping industry but there isn’t a track record yet. I am optimistic but I understand being only cautiously so.

Agreed. Electrification is the future, certainly for local and medium-haul routes.

But don’t underestimate the demands of heavy duty trucking. Tesla needs to focus on durability and reliability under difficult conditions and constant use. Such things as the cooling of batteries and reduction gears will be a big challenge.

Lots needs to be done to refine the product and prove the use-case. It will be a journey, we’re not there yet. I’m glad to see the first steps being taking.

Is this considered an Apple presentation?

Seriously though, wasn’t sure if that was slang, of if you are talking about Steve Jobs company.

If this technology is the future, won’t there be a great need for Tesla trained mechanics to work on all these trucks?

To do what? No transmissions, no oil, no filters, no cylinders and camshafts, no exhaust system, highly simplified cooling system, etc. Even the brakes should last a lot longer due to regenerative braking. As the guy in the video noted, the only stuff left is tire maintenance and maybe wheel bearings and fifth wheel.

Electronic parts aren’t immune from wear (vibration, etc) and failure. Bearings are bearings. Reduction gears won’t last forever. Suspension. Steering. Battery and motor cooling systems. Trim, interior and body. Refrigeration units for cool or cold trailers.

They certainly have the potential for lower maintenance, but not zero maintenance or even close to it.

Side observation: refrigerated trailers with electric power, plugged into the semi, is a huge opportunity here. Those little diesel refrigeration units are high maintenance, somewhat thirsty, and very noisy.

@mevp: You nailed it. There are still plenty of things to work on with an electric truck. Suspension and cooling systems came to mind first, but there are other things, too.


“Model S and Model X owners report long waits to schedule service appointments — from routine checkups to more pressing issues such as faulty door latches and suspicious engine noises.”

I’m a former Gen2 Volt owner, my car displayed an error message and would not move…Was in the shop for 16 days and a module was replaced…On the Bolt EV forums, similar reported issues, error message is displayed, call your Chevy dealer and their Bolt tech is tied up, he’s got four Bolts ahead of yours…

So…You are basically saying Diagnostics & Spare Parts Supply are big issues with more advanced products! I guess, no surprise there!

Yes but you see that in the Tesla fantasy world Teslas never break. There are no service centers and they are certainly not overcrowded. There are no Tesla drive train failures, anyone who claims that is a serial Tesla hater fudster.

So, don’t be a “serial Tesla hater fudster.”!!!

My thoughts exactly.. It isn’t like Tesla’s never break down. While they may require less routine maintenance, there is still going to be plenty of repair work to go around.

Group think here tends to believe it will be an EV revolution when, at best, it will be an evolution.

There will be areas that adapt MUCH quicker than others but as a whole the movement is looking like it follow the political pattern of red & blue states (and the pockets within).

@fotomoto said: “There will be areas that adapt MUCH quicker than others but as a whole the movement is looking like it follow the political pattern of red & blue states (and the pockets within).“

I think electric semi adoption will be mostly economic driven…

When TCO to operate an electric semi is proven to be below a diesel semi it will then be a cost analysis business decision of deciding if to retire legacy diesel fleets before end-of-life for electric or switch to electric as the fleet reaches end of life.

At that point it will be a supply issue for electric semi.

The adoption for electric semi has potential to be faster than EV consumer cars because it’s not a political or emotional topic… just business… the commercial trucking industry bean-counters I think will soon be very pro electric semi.

It will be some kind of “S”. Due the fact cars cost a lot, its going to be flatter than say, the curve of a microwave.

United States will not be the EV leader, China followed by several other European countries…

To your point however, the GOP tax bill appearantly just added a provision to allow drilling in artic Alaska…

First off, the guy is obviously a pretty bright guy. He went through an encyclopedia of information about the Tesla truck from memory, and pretty much nailed it with no effort. Good communication skills, and strong logical thinking. Someone from Tesla’s Semi division should contact him about interviewing for any open positions they may have, and offer him trained on electric drivetrain mechanics if he wants to.

Second, even under a million mile warranty, there will always be SOME warranty work that has to be done. Just like warranty work on ICE cars and trucks.

Finally, he’s 100% correct. Diesel mechanic jobs are going to become more and more rare, as they go the way of Carb Rebuilders, 1-hour photo lab techs, coal miners, FORTRAN developers, etc. Not what diesel mechanics want to hear, but it is the way of the world, and nobody is immune from it. There is no fighting it.

Not only truck mechanics, but Elon were to have his utopian way, also truck drivers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, uber drivers, auto mechanics, factory workers, and pretty much all the professional drivers and mechanics for any form of transportation. Tens of millions of jobs lost and the primary reason is as always, so corporations and companies can make more profit. Transfer wealth away from the middle and towards the top seems to be the constant goal.

Of course, things have a way of correcting themselves. Unfortunately sometimes violently. I suspect that should mass adoption of Tesla’s Semis become a reality, the transition will not be smooth, or peaceful. Just because you can do a thing, does not always mean you should do that thing.

Why are you whining about technology eliminating the need for labor when you should be focused inequality? As technology continues to eliminate the need for many types of jobs a universal income is requires to ensure society does not collapse. If society collapses money will be worthless anyway. Might as well ensure each individual has the bare minimum to survive than destroy civilization.

Universal basic income is pretty much the single most stupid idea as public policy I have ever heard. There would be the haves, who will have so much and paying all the taxes and the great masses of have nots on welfare. What could possibly go wrong with that??

The kind of people that tout these kinds of “solutions” to this problem are usually either 100% confident in their own job security, or like the idea of living on welfare.

Here’s another, much more practical solution- refuse these new technologies for the much needed preservation of human dignity. People need to work. Plain and simple. Most people don’t like being on welfare and being a parasitic citizen.

Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

So the rich get richer, the 1% already own 51% so we go along until it is 99%?

You’ve just laid out the Luddites case.
BTW Richard M Nixon and the top economists of the day recommended Universal Basic Income.

We are reaching a time in history where the Luddites may well be proven right. It is conceivable that in my life time we will have machines that can do every single job we have and do it better. We’re not there yet, but we seem hell bent to get there without thinking of the consequences.

BTW, why would you trot out Richard Nixon like he was some kind of deep intellectual thinker, or public policy genius?

Universal Basic Income is a disaster. If you start handing out free money it will be killed off by inflation. It is better to have high taxes on the rich in order to pay for things then people. That way work is provided, stuff gets done and inflation avoided.

UBI is a waste as long as there are war torn and hungry parts of the world that could benefit from are excess money and workforce.

UBI is an optimization of tax code and welfare programs. It’s not an alternative to working as some people think. With UBI and a flat taxation you would simplify a lot of things.

There is no point in human history where human labor remained constant.

Even hunter/gatherers were replaced by farmers. And farmers were replaced by industrial workers.

Nobody picks corn by hand anymore. There are no telephone switchboard operators anymore. Etc. Are farmers evil for taking away jobs from hunter/gatherers?

Of course there is no constant in labor. The only constant in the universe is change. However we are now on the cusp of entering an era where there will be literally less and less to do for people and that is a situation that has never existed in human history before. Machines will be able to do pretty much all jobs and do them better than we do.

What then? Do we blindly proceed ahead just because we can, or so that a few can make a handsome profit, or do we consider the well being of the whole?

I wouldn’t throw in the towel just yet.

However ultimately he is more or less correct since SOMEONE will eventually make a low-maintenance truck. Whether it is TESLA or not remains to be seen.

Companies really don’t like losing experienced staff. It’s the young who will be hit hard. The beard will be kept on.

If history repeats itself, it will be the 55-65 age folks who suffer the most. They will lose their well paid high experience jobs in the next economic downturn, just like they did in 2008/9

There is no 1 million mile warranty. It’s a 1 million mile guarantee against breaking down.

How is that different?

Perhaps you can explain to me the difference between “1 million mile warranty” and “1 million mile drivetrain guarantee”. Seems to me that’s just using different words to describe the same thing.

Long story short, this is a glimpse into the mind of the Buggy Whip manufacturers of early part if the last century.

Everything he complains will be bad for mechanics is great for truck owners.

Well he certainly answered the question of why there are head on collisions. It wasn’t until eight minutes in that he actually held the steering wheel instead of resting his wrist on it. He sounds like a great guy but, yipes!

And explained from another trucker’s…