Tesla Semi Spotted In Arkansas: Musk Comments 1,000-Mile Extension Cord Required

AUG 27 2018 BY VANJA KLJAIC 50

The Tesla Semi showed its face at trucking giant J.B. Hunt

In recent weeks, Tesla Semi prototype sightings have become even more frequent. We’ve seen these vehicles all across California, but also at locations thousands of miles away from its Fremont, California home.

Last week, a Semi prototype was caught while traveling across the Southwest. Even though the sheer distance traveled would be newsworthy all on its own, the location the truck visited prompts it even more. The Semi was caught at the headquarters of Tesla Semi customer, trucking giant J.B. Hunt.

J.B Hunt is one of the largest freight movers in the continental United States. The company currently employs over 124,000 people and operates more than 12,000 trucks. There are over 100,000 trailers and containers as part of the company’s fleet, allowing them to handle almost any potential shipping task. Thus, bringing one of the first Tesla Semi prototypes to J.B. Hunt’s headquarters in Arkansas is potentially a huge deal for the carmaker.

Images of Tesla Semi’s appearance at J.B Hunt’s HQ are shown below. (Instagram: davisbriank and blackfocal)

Furthermore, Reddit user freakonomics3415 got a closer look:

The events revolving around the Tesla Semi in the recent few weeks make us believe the electric truck is its final stages of development and testing. Furthermore, the vehicle visiting the HQ of one of their potentially biggest customers could mean some new big orders are going to flow in.

When talking about the event, Musk made a snickering comment about the Tesla Semi’s “required” 1,000-mile extension cord on Twitter.

With a market reveal coming up next year, it still remains to be seen how many Semis will be ordered. Additionally, the diesel truck competition doesn’t believe that Tesla can bring on the needed electric truck economics as early as next year. But, we’ve learned from the past product reveals that Elon Musk loves to prove people wrong. So, expect him to do so again this time around.

Source: Electrek

Categories: Tesla, Trucks

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50 Comments on "Tesla Semi Spotted In Arkansas: Musk Comments 1,000-Mile Extension Cord Required"

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Chris O

If Tesla really delivers on that $1.26 per mile operating cost J.B.Hunt may have little choice but to go Tesla if it wants to stay competitive in a business where $/mile is everything.

Robert Weekley

I am sure there will be some indepth disussions about how Tesla is planning to make that happen, at this stop!

Chris O

A lot seems to hinge on Tesla delivering electricity at $0.07/KWh. Considering the huge amount of KWh’s a mega charger station will be dispensing everyday Tesla should be able to buy at industrial rates so I could see it working out.

J. L. Brown

Chances are good that the MegaChargers will be mostly battery; buying electricity at commercial/wholesale pricing. Where I am, that is US $0.02 per kWh compared to the US $0.125 per kWh for residential customers. There might also be an associated solar array to provide additional charge. In this case the US $0.07 per kWh would have to be enough to cover wear and tear on the equipment, as well as the opportunity cost of not selling those goods elsewhere.

The primary difficulty that I see for Tesla is that the MegaChargers will require a tremendous production ramp in battery cells and possibly also solar panels.

antrik

Tremendous? I don’t think so. A couple MWh per Megacharger station should suffice; so 1 GWh (the amount Tesla Energy will supposedly deploy within the next 9-12 months), would already cover several hundreds of them.

Nix

The interesting question over the long term becomes, what happens when Tesla becomes a net energy producer, and Tesla no longer has to pay industrial rates?

Robert Weekley

Confusing: “With a market reveal coming up next year”! What is the difference between the “Tesla Semi Reveal” last November, and a “market reveal”?

Are you refering to an “Entry into Service”? Or a “Delivery Event”, for the first Vehicle Handovers, like the July 28th, 2017, Model 3 Handovers?

Pushmi-Pullyu

Since that Reveal event, Elon has “revealed” that the prototype will need some changes, to reflect potential customer feedback, before it goes into production.

So we’ll get at least one more Reveal event for the Tesla Semi Truck. Hopefully the second Reveal will show a truck that’s close to an actual production vehicle, which the current prototypes being shown almost certainly are not.

David Green

Market reveal next year? What? Musk tweeted Friday that now they need to work on the “production design”. for those that do not know about truck design, that is where you design all the parts and the production system, for a production model. It is the most expensive and time consuming step, Oh ya, then they need to build a factory and actually build and test the production models, All by next year? hmm, where is the money going to come from?

Zachary Hafen

Build a factory? I think they’ve got one that will do just fine in Sparks, Nevada.

Doggydogworld

Tesla and Panasonic have trouble hiring in Sparks as it is.

Semi truck plants are relatively small, though.

Pushmi-Pullyu

There might well be room inside the walls of Gigafactory 1 for a semi truck assembly line, but an empty space inside a large building isn’t a factory. They will need to start installing the equipment needed for stamping out body panels and assembling the truck, and they’ll need to do that closer to two years in advance than just one. Furthermore, they need to have the design fairly well locked down before they start building the production line, and it looks like that hasn’t happened yet.

If the Tesla Semi Truck goes into actual mass production only a year or so from now, I’ll eat my hat.

David Green

GF1 is bursting at the seams right now, Elon said that already, when he was talking about the Panasonic add that was ordered.. Carsonight on another Tesla loving EV blog can give you more info on GF1 He is a Tesla bull, but I have always found him to be well informed about GF1 operations, and plans.

antrik

I don’t remember him saying that — and I find it hard to believe, too… It’s not like they didn’t know that they need to ramp up production; and thus need to extend the structure, if they were already running low on space.

David Green

here is what carsonight posted to another commenter last night…

A couple of comments on that article:
First, the three new lines will NOT increase the output to 35 GWh. The math runs like this:
Each machine at GF1 can produce ~ 25,000 cells per day if all goes well. There are 14 machines in a “line”, in two rows of seven each. So, 25,000 cells per machine per day × 14 machines per line × 13 lines × 365 days per year × 18 Wh per cell = 29 GWh per year. That’s cells for ~7000 Model 3s per week if nothing is being used for power. On a side note, GF1 when complete is planned for 77 lines, plus one for training.
Second, cells were not “redistributed” from power to automotive, as that article said, because those are two completely different chemistries. What this means is the one line for power was changed over to automotive, meaning no powerwall or power pack batteries are being produced at GF1 at this time. That is the first I have heard of this and I do not know if any cells were stock piled.

Bunny

+1

antrik

It didn’t take more than a year from the start of installing production equipment for Model 3, to starting initial production. And I think Tesla is planning a much slower ramp for the Semi. In fact they already said that for all future production lines, they intend to start simple, and only add automation later — so if anything, initially bringing these up should go faster.

I think by far the more major concern is having the design finalised. Right now it doesn’t sound like they will have a finished and tested design 16 months from now… I think it quite possible that they will already do small-series production runs for validation next year (at least on the Sparks-Freemont route; perhaps also some external customers) — but most likely not with mass-manufacture equipment yet.

David Green

That factory is packed to the teeth with battery production now, and my insider says they can barely make enough for 4800-5000 model 3’s per week now. They will need to add for the equipment to get model 3 to 10K per week, then add for the semi batteries, and then add a production line? You think all that is going to happen in a year? Considering they have 0 capital to spend right now? Show me the timeline and financing plan?

DAVID

Panasonic finances it.

Nix

Yes, building out the battery cell lines is Panasonic’s side of the deal.

Technically, it would be “Panasonic financed it”, because Panasonic already dedicated all the funds needed to go full ramp-up at both GF1 and GF2(solar). Panasonic has no complaints or problems with funding ramping up. In fact their only complaint has been that they wanted to be where they are now 2 quarters ago, because they already set the funding aside.

Panasonic’s only conundrum is how many more GF’s they will fund in the future, not funding the GF’s they are already committed to funding.

Chris O

Shouldn’t be hard to find funds for a product that will disrupt the trucking industry if Tesla can deliver at its $1.26/mile cost target. Timeline is no doubt ambitious as usual but if it is only 6 months late again as it effectively was with Model 3 despite the totally unrealistic targets it’s going to be another impressive result.

Like the man said: Elon Musk is always late yet nobody is able to keep up with him.

Pushmi-Pullyu

The money will come from the same places Tesla gets all the money it uses for capital investment. Only a serial Tesla basher would keep questioning funding for the project.

The limitation is time, not money. There is no way Tesla is going to get an actual truck into production in only a year, when it has no truck assembly line and no production prototype. I’ll be quite surprised if it goes into production before mid-2021.

David Green

During a formal SEC investigation which the SEC has announced publicly, raising funds is hard, there are so many legal hurdles… The bond market is looking a little weak too, Traders are willing to give up 13% just to unload those….

https://markets.businessinsider.com/bonds/tesla_incdl-notes_201717-25_regs-bond-2025-usu8810laa18

Nix

Please provide a source where the SEC has officially announced any “SEC Investigation” into Tesla.

You do know what the definition is of an SEC investigation, and the difference between an anonymous unnamed source and an actual named SEC official?

Please point to the press release to which you are referring:
https://www.sec.gov/news/pressreleases

Nix

The only thing announced recently is Reuters reporting that the BS lawsuits that you were so sure would sink Tesla went nowhere and were dismissed with the comment “federal securities laws do not punish companies for failing to achieve their targets.”

(Reuters) – A federal judge in San Francisco has dismissed a lawsuit in which Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) shareholders accused the carmaker of misleading the public about the progress on production of its Model 3 vehicle.

In a decision made public on Monday, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said that while the plaintiffs claimed that Tesla fell short of its production goals, “federal securities laws do not punish companies for failing to achieve their targets.”

Care to apologize and admit you were wrong on those, while you apologize for not actually having any official SEC source showing any “SEC investigation” into Tesla?

Robert Weekley

As a separate note, will Inside EV’s keep a Tally of Large Trucks on the Same Monthly Score Card, or Start A Truck Score Card, so the numbers are identifiable, separately?

KumarPlocher

I like this idea. If I recall correctly they had quite a few orders early on- I would love to know where that tally is at this point.

Nix

Should count as 5 EV’s on the scorecard…. *grin*

BenG

You properly call the Tesla Semis out in the wild now ‘prototype’ but then later go on to say: “The events revolving around the Tesla Semi in the recent few weeks make us believe the electric truck is its final stages of development and testing.”

I wouldn’t be so sure of that, but I guess it’s possible. Usually you’d build some prototypes and give them a good round of testing, then go back for another round of development to design the production model. I expect Tesla is still in the design phase for the production model, and they are using the prototype road trips to get more data and feedback to inform that design process. Next up would be development, then production of a test fleet of the final design. I expect we are at least 2 years away from seeing that test fleet hit the road.

Doggydogworld

Your schedule is quite reasonable, but we’re talking about Tesla 🙂

Pushmi-Pullyu

I find your analysis to be far more likely, and a far better reflection of the information we have available. Thanks!

Dan F.

Yes, you can’t do your beta testing with commercial customers, the product has to be really solid when you sell it so this is all to the good.

Bunny

Yep to that, what we haven’t seen yet, but what be a real solid indicator, would be a small test fleet of about 10 or 20 Tesla semis hauling Tesla freight from NV to CA on an ongoing basis, the true daily grind of actually hauling freight.

Then do the analysis how much the EV saves compared to what they pay today. It’d be really good real world testing. Not unlike the 10 Ecascadias Daimler is giving to Penske.

I would assume the batteries for Fremont are hauled on racks so the racks always have to go back to NV. Pretty typical of the auto industry.

J. L. Brown

I am pretty sure that the official stance is that Tesla will be the first customer; so just such a test fleet might make its’ appearance late next year. In addition to hauling Tesla’s own freight, these TSemis would help find any show-stopper type bugs — and, if I was Tesla, I would arrange for consultants from the other customers to come ride those trucks to get a closer look at operations and provide feedback.

antrik

I’m fairly confident we will see a test fleet sooner; the question is more, how long it will take from seeing that fleet to actual sales starting?

Ron M

Where did they build this Semi truck at?

antrik

Probably at the design centre?

Bunny

As long as the fuel surcharge business model is used in tendering freight in trucking there’s little incentive to go EV on a large scale. Almost any company actually makes more profit as fuel prices increase, it just gets passed on to the consumer. As long as any ICE truck mpg is better than baseline fuel surcharge, the trucking company makes money. For now, that’s just the way it is. By no way do I think that’s an ideal business model but just trying to inform people not knowledgeable about how the trucking industry actually works in its current form.
The last time fuel prices went down, companies like YRC took a huge hit in the negative direction.

Roy_H

Sounds like this business model is about to get upset. Only works well when all companies use the same fuel sources. Once some are able to purchase their energy needs at a much lower price, their mark-up policy will go out the window.

KumarPlocher

If it were this simple, there wouldn’t be so many small-time owner-operators complaining when fuel prices go up.

Bunny

The small time single owner operator business model is already all but dead. That sector is a non issue as it is.

antrik

That’s interesting, considering that it’s where the most vocal critics of Tesla Semi seem to be coming from… One less thing to worry about 😉

Pushmi-Pullyu

Bunny, that’s going to work only so long as all freight trucking companies raise their prices uniformly, to reflect a rise in fuel price.

Let’s say Company “Alpha” is running 100% diesel semis, and company “Beta” is running 50/50, half diesels and half BEV semi trucks. The next time there’s a fuel price hike, Alpha raises its rates an equal amount. But Beta has the luxury of deciding to raise rates only half as much, or more likely, raise rates 3/4 as much, which both undercut’s Alpha’s prices and gives Beta a fatter profit margin.

I think most trucking companies would rather be in the position of Beta than Alpha! 🙂

Bunny
The application that shines for the EV trucks are the private fleets that don’t haul for hire, think everything from grocery chains, retail chains that deliver to their own stores. The cost or better put savings goes straight to bottom line. What you are missing in your understanding of current for hire trucking companies they don’t set the fuel rate ( its industry standard fuel surcharge) because most companies run fairly fuel efficient newer trucks they are always ahead on fuel. I think the industry will have to have huge saturation of EVs before that particular business model changes. As it is already , shippers that don’t offer to pay a reasonable rate for a load , find that their freight doesn’t get hauled or it gets hauled by low grade trucking companies that cut corners. Because J.B. Hunt business model of the last few years is mostly intermodal with signature last mile delivery, the Tesla semi will be really good fit for that sector of their business , but no doubt their long haul business going to be diesel for many years to come. There is zero doubt Tesla will sell everything they build semi wise. But changing the… Read more »
J. L. Brown

I do not think it is unrealistic to suppose that the entire fleet could be replaced by BEVs in a decade, if only enough production capacity existed. Faster, maybe, if market forces came to bear in a serious way. As it is, it looks like Tesla will sell every BEV TSemi it can build — but at a mere 100k units per year, they will face quite a ramp to make a dent in the total fleet.

antrik

I’m confused. If the same surcharge is applied to everyone, doesn’t that mean a trucking company using EVs would be in an even better position as fuel prices rise, since they get the same increase in surcharge, without actually having to pay more for electricity?…

Bunny

I think another issue is how are EV trucks going to get taxed? We already have the high federal excise tax at purchase ( so you’re still talking 12% at Tesla’s 150k,180k, 200k price tag) on top of sales taxes, but trucks pay huge amount for intrastructure and no states nor the feds are going to want to give that revenue up.

antrik

Yeah, that’s what I was thinking when Elon claimed that platooned Tesla Semis could beat rail: he probably ignored the costs of maintaining roads, which have to be paid *somehow*.

This will probably only become relevant as electric trucks start seeing meaningful penetration, though…

James

Is there room to play a banjo in the Tesla semi?