Tesla just unveiled a badass new electric truck, and it puts all others before it to shame...
November 16 2017 was an important day in the world of automobiles. It was the day that car maker Tesla unveiled the sleek electric truck that so many fans had been waiting for for months, the very truck that had promised the moon and the stars. But the question was, did it deliver?
Elon Musk, the product architect of Tesla Inc., had stirred up the hype around his new product on social media for days before the big reveal, on Sunday promising that it “will blow your mind clear out of your skull and into an alternate dimension”. Not to mention that the day before it's release he teased that the truck “can transform into a robot, fight aliens and make one hell of a latte”. So, upon first impressions, did Tesla's electric semi-truck live up to expectations?
There were no aliens to fight off, so we couldn't test it out on that front, but it's fair to say that Tesla enthusiasts were pretty impressed by their first look at what the company is pegging as the "safest, most comfortable truck ever", one which they hope will replace today’s diesel-fueled ones. Only time will tell if the automobile delivers all its creator's promises, but the initial list of special features speaks for itself, including faster acceleration, better uphill performance, a 500-mile (805km) range at maximum weight at highway speed, and “thermonuclear explosion-proof glass” in the windshield.
In addition, Musk claimed that overall cost of ownership will be 20 per cent less per mile compared with diesel trucks. He told the crowds that it would be “economic suicide” to continue using diesel trucks, claiming the Tesla version, if driven in convoy, would be cheaper than shipping goods by rail. The American automaker plans to build a network of so-called "Megachargers" that can produce a 400-mile charge in 30 minutes; they will be different from the superchargers that are currently used by other Tesla vehicles that claim to charge Model S in a matter of minutes instead of hours.
The electric truck has brand new safety features include enhanced autopilot, lane-keeping technology, and a design that makes jackknifing “impossible”. Truck owners who are eyeing up the new addition to the Tesla family will also be excited to hear that the semi is reportedly miles ahead of a lot of other vehicles in terms of how much it can carry. This one, Musk said, can haul 80,000 pounds, being a fully electric Class 8 truck (a category of freight vehicles that weigh more than 33,000 pounds) including tractor-trailer rigs that form the backbone of commercial road freight.
Musk spoke enthusiastically about his creation: "Every truck we sell will have enhanced autopilot as standard. That means semi-autonomous capabilities for breaking and keeping in lanes. Using the autopilot system, several Tesla trucks can form a convoy on highways, driving the operating cost down further."
So, the important thing that all car fanatics out there want to know is: When can I get my hands on it? Well, the answer is that it's going to be a while yet. Production on the vehicle is currently expected to begin in 2019. However, this hasn't stopped the orders pouring in; it was reported in late December 2017 that United Parcel Service (UPS) had become Tesla's biggest semi-truck customer to date. The delivery service and logistics provider announced that it planned to pre-order 125 of the vehicles, superseding beverage and snacks behemoth PepsiCo, which has reserved 100 of them.
UPS afterwards stated that by working with Tesla and being one of the first companies with the new semis on the road, they aim to reduce its absolute greenhouse gas emissions as much as 12 per cent by 2025: "These groundbreaking electric tractors are poised to usher in a new era in improved safety, reduced environmental impact, and reduced cost of ownership," Juan Perez, UPS' chief information and engineering officer, said in a statement.
The delivery company are not wrong in thinking that they would be helping the environment by investing in electric semi-trucks like Tesla's; research shows that vehicles like theirs could have big implications for greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, Class 8 trucks account for seven percent of greenhouse gas emissions and devour 17 million barrels of oil per day, with demand growing by 1.9 percent per year, according to the International Energy Agency.
However, many insist that the electric car company is late to the market, with fierce competition from Volkswagen, Cummins and Nikola. Trevor Milton, CEO of hybrid truck company Nikola Motors doesn't seem to be too afraid of Elon Musk's masterpiece, citing its high-capacity stationary batteries as its downfall and saying: “Tesla’s truck will do good for the industry, very bad for Tesla’s balance sheet and good for Nikola. We are happy either way.”
So, will the energy storage company bring it in 2019, or will the new electric truck fall flat on its face, much to the glee of its rivals? Honestly, we can only wait and see.