After the initial rush that was the Model 3 announcement, 2017 has been an up-and-down year for Tesla. On one hand, the company’s solar panel and battery divisions scored a major publicity boost by sending free aid to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico. On the other hand, it faces a number of lawsuits from ex-employees, as well as production bottlenecks, and customers with Model 3 reservations are beginning to ditch their place in line as wait times grow. Earlier in 2017, Tesla had the highest value of any car company in the world. In a year, that might not be the case.
Unless, of course, things change. And that’s just what company chief Elon Musk wants to do. After talking about it for years, the company has unveiled the Tesla Semi Truck, an over-the-road hauler that could change the face of trucking forever. Although you might not expect a semi truck to change your life directly, it could completely transform the shape of our highways for decades to come. Here’s everything you need to know about the new all-electric Tesla Semi Truck.
1. Range anxiety? What range anxiety?
In the five years since the Tesla Model S changed the automotive landscape, there’s been little Tesla or any other automaker has been able to do to quell drivers’ biggest reservation about electric vehicles: range anxiety. But with the Semi, that shouldn’t be a problem with truckers. It’s designed to go 500 miles on a single charge with a full load of cargo. We assume the Semi will have Supercharging capability, too, to make recharging as quick a task as possible. After all, time is money in the freight industry.
2. It has supercar tech
Sure, semi trucks are more comfortable now than they’ve ever been, but the Tesla Semi takes this to a whole other level. Its body is made out of carbon fiber, just like today’s wildest supercars. What’s more, the driver is seated front and center. Of course, the carbon body and center driving position both fit with the company’s McLaren F1 benchmark. Musk proudly owned one of the iconic hypercars in the ’90s and used its performance as a benchmark in developing Tesla’s dual-motor cars. It’s no coincidence that two of the F1’s most distinctive features show up on the Semi.
3. It’s sports car fast
There’s nothing worse than being stuck behind a slow truck on a highway with elevation changes. One minute you’re driving the speed limit. Then, the elevation changes, and you’re doing 20 under. That shouldn’t be a problem with the Tesla Semi. Thanks to multiple electric motors, the truck can rocket from zero to 60 in 5 seconds. Considering that the 5-second mark was a benchmark for sports cars 20 years ago, that’s pretty damn impressive.
4. It’s jackknife-proof
It’s the biggest fear of truck drivers and highway drivers alike: Something happens to get the truck sideways, and it jackknifes across traffic, taking out the truck, its cargo, and everything in its path. For Tesla Semi drivers, that fear will be a thing of the past. The truck features an array of sensors that look for any loss in traction and adjust power to individual wheels to keep it straight and true. And like Tesla’s passenger vehicles, the Semi will come equipped with the semi-autonomous Autopilot system, ensuring that the truck will stay planted in its lane.
5. It has a million-mile warranty
One million miles might sound wild to the average driver, but to truckers it’s very attainable. So in a bold move that will appeal to long-haul drivers, Tesla will guarantee Semi powertrains up to the million-mile mark. If all goes according to plan, the Tesla Semi will be a lot less needy than your average over-the-road truck.
6. It’s nuke-proof?
Among all the other promises Musk made about the Semi, he also claimed the truck would be able to withstand a thermonuclear explosion. He didn’t say from how far away — there’s no chance any vehicle could survive a blast at ground zero. But the truck will use Tesla’s new “Armor Glass,” which is far stronger than regular safety glass. In reality, this should be a solution to the laws that sideline over-the-road trucks if their windshields are cracked.
7. It’ll be here in 2019
You know what will be here in no time? 2019. For any automaker, it’s a tall order to bring any concept to production in a year’s time. And for as much as Tesla dominates the automotive conversation, it’s still tiny compared to automakers, such as Ford and GM, and even truckmakers, such as Freightliner or Peterbilt. Nonetheless, Musk is certain the first production-model Semis will reach customers before 2020. We’ll see whether the company can pull it off.
8. It rounds out Tesla’s vision of the future
In a Columbo-esque “just one more thing” moment, Musk also unveiled a new Tesla Roadster at the event that could reach production by 2020. According to Musk, the new sports car will start at $200,000 and will be the quickest production car ever built.
Today, the company offers the Model S and Model X. And, if reports are accurate, it’s largely hand-building the Model 3 as the production line gets up to speed. By 2020, it hopes to be building the S, X, the 3 at full capacity; the new Roadster; the Semi; and possibly the Model Y compact crossover. For a company that’s been plagued with quality and production issues lately, that’s a tall order. Still, we’re still hoping Musk and company can pull it off. The roads would be better with these vehicles on them.