Elon Musk Teases Upcoming Tesla Semi in TED Talk
All-Electric Truck Will Be Heavy-Duty, Long-Range Hauler
Tesla founder Elon Musk teased the company’s upcoming all-electric semi at a TED event on Friday. Speaking at TED2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Musk let it slip that the truck was in its prototype phase, and the company will reveal its largest offering in September. A light-duty pickup is also reportedly on the way.
Details on the truck itself are predictably scarce, since Tesla is known for keeping its cards close to its chest even after it debuts new vehicles. Revealed during Musk’s interview with TED Head Curator Chris Anderson, the teaser shows a few tidbits, like the truck’s extreme cab-forward form factor, wraparound front glass, and LED headlamps that look like those of the Model S sedan, only flipped 90 degrees.
In fact, the truck looks very similar to another futuristic-propulsion semi concept, the Nikola One. As with the hydrogen fuel cell Nikola One (pictured below), the Tesla big rig will likely feature torque-vectoring electric motors, and Musk claimed the truck was surprisingly maneuverable—betraying that he’d driven a prototype around a parking lot. And just like Nikola CEO Trevor Milton did in December, Musk bragged about the instant-on torque of electric motors compared to diesel engines.
The biggest question mark regarding the Tesla semi is range. Long-haul truckers frequently log hundreds of miles each day behind the wheel, so the Tesla would need a massive battery pack and rapid-recharge capability if it wants to be competitive in the market. Given Tesla’s burgeoning experience in solar power, the company could fit the roof of its semi (and compatible trailers) with energy-generating solar panels, as pointed out by Electrek.
Musk stopped short of calling the upcoming Tesla truck driverless or autonomous, but it’s a safe bet the company would implement self-driving technology in its biggest machine. Speaking of, Musk claimed a Tesla passenger vehicle would make a coast-to-coast drive completely autonomously by the end of the year, going from Los Angeles to New York City without any intervention from its driver. You can bet we’ll be tuned into that publicity stunt.