While your Twitter/Instagram/Facebook feeds will no doubt already be cluttered with stuff about the Tesla Roadster, we must not forget the vehicle the Hawthorne reveal event was actually supposed to be about. Yep, we’re talking about the Tesla Semi (that’s a lorry, to us Brits), a car which has far bigger potential real-world implications than a sports car with some rather bold performance claims.
As a kick off, the Semi has, err, some rather lofty performance claims. Sans trailer, or ‘bobtail’, as it’s known, the vehicle will do 0-60mph in five seconds. In other words, it stands a good chance of beating an E46 BMW M3 away from the traffic lights. Which is absurd.
Even with a trailer hooked up and fully loaded with 36 tonnes of cargo, it’ll do the same sprint in 20 seconds (something which Tesla claims takes a conventional diesel truck “about a minute”). How? We’re not sure at this point, Tesla hasn’t released any information about the vehicle’s battery pack.
The firm has said that the range is 500 miles though, and it will apparently be possible to recharge to a 400 mile range in just 30 minutes. The caveat? That’d require the use of a ‘Megacharger’ - a new design of DC charging station which would need to be installed at the destination or along busy routes.
The Semi’s drag coefficient of 0.36Cd is not just far better than a conventional lorry, it’s - as Tesla is mighty keen to point out - better than a Bugatti Chiron. That’s the reason for the unusual shape on the outside, and on the inside it’s just as alien. The driver is flanked by two massive touch screens (well, it is a Tesla), has a centrally-mounted driving position, and can enjoy full standing room in the cabin.
Safety features include surround cameras, a system that uses positive or negative torque to each wheel to prevent jackknifing, and ‘Enhanced Autopilot’. The latter function features autonomous braking, automatic lane keeping and lane departure warning. Stick a bunch of additional Semis behind, and they’ll autonomously play follow-the-leader, creating a convoy.
There’s no mention of cost yet, but Tesla touts “$200,000 or more in savings over a million miles based on fuel costs alone.” Prospective buyers can put down a $5000 deposit now with production planned for 2019, but given how Model 3 production is going right now, it’s probably best to take that targeted debut with a pinch of salt for now.