Tesla has managed to ship several high-end electric vehicles to consumers, but commercial trucking is the company’s next big move. After showing off its design for an electric semi truck, the company has been working on an aggressive release schedule. However, the vehicle hasn’t been spotted in real life until now. A video uploaded to YouTube shows Tesla’s sleek electric semi cruising down a road in California.
There are few details to glean from this short clip (below). The original prototype trucks Tesla unveiled several months back did not have side mirrors, leading some to suspect Tesla had some fancy alternative in mind. The truck just spotted in the wild does have mirrors, though. That’s necessary for it to be street-legal, so Tesla probably just omitted the mirrors for the announcement to make the truck look cooler.
As you can see in the video, the front of the semi is narrower than standard diesel trucks. It doesn’t need a giant engine, and the cab is slightly smaller with a centered driver’s seat. It’s vastly quieter than a regular semi as well. The truck doesn’t even drown out other road noise as it passes the camera. There’s someone behind the wheel of the truck, but Tesla is touting the autopilot features of the vehicle. Although, many have pointed out Tesla’s self-driving tech is far behind the curve.
Tesla claims the base model truck will get about 300 miles per charge, but an upgraded version with a larger battery will get 500 miles. The reduced drag coefficient helps make it more power efficient, but that’s a shorter distance than your average semi can go on a full tank of fuel. It also takes longer to recharge a giant battery than it does to refill a tank. However, an electric semi could be much cheaper to operate for shorter trips than a diesel one.
The four independent electric motors also ensure the Tesla semi can go from zero to 60 in just five seconds. That’s without a trailer, though. With an 80,000 pound load, the Tesla semi can reach 60 MPH in about 20 seconds.
So far, Tesla has taken larger orders for its trucks from companies like Walmart and Pepsi. CEO Elon Musk claims the company will begin shipping vehicles in 2019. The base model will cost about $150,000, and the upgraded model will be $180,000. That’s not much more than the cost of a conventional semi truck, which usually sells for around $120,000.