Elon Musk Will Unveil Electric Semi-Truck: Tesla Gigafactory’s Semi Is Short Range Eco-Friendly Transporter?

Tesla Motors will unveil an electric cargo truck in September, confirmed CEO Elon Musk through a simple tweet.

Although the Tesla Motors’ Gigafactory still has to get up to speed, the Model 3’s production has to be ramped up, and a satellite launch coming up, Elon Musk didn’t hesitate to announce the impending launch of an all-electric goods carrier. The eco-friendly, battery-operated semi-truck is scheduled to be unveiled in September, confirmed Elon Musk through a rather simple tweet:

Although an all-electric goods carrier is certainly a welcome change to gas-guzzling semis that ply the interstates and city roads, there are several challenges that limit the Tesla truck. Fortunately, Elon Musk’s various endeavors revolving around autonomous transport, high-capacity and robust batteries, as well as electric vehicles that make petrol and diesel-run vehicles look downright archaic, the battery-operated commercial operations truck appears a mere expanded iteration of the electric passenger cars that Tesla Motors currently makes.

Although Elon Musk did not reveal when the truck would be available for purchase, given the fact that Tesla Model 3 is currently in active development, while the Model S is selling like hot cakes, the battery-powered semi-truck could make its commercial debut sooner rather than later. Musk did not speculate, but the all-electric goods carrier is expected to feature autonomous driving capabilities. Given the current regulations, the truck will still require a driver present in the driver’s seat at all times. In another tweet, Musk mentioned Tesla expects to unveil a pickup truck in 18 to 24 months.

Elon Musk had revealed Tesla Motors’ “master plan” last July. During the presentation, he had clearly mentioned that heavy-duty trucks were among the other types of electric vehicles needed in the marketplace. Back then, he had noted that Tesla expects to unveil its truck this year.

“We believe the Tesla Semi will deliver a substantial reduction in the cost of cargo transport, while increasing safety and making it really fun to operate.”

Is an all-electric battery-powered semi-truck a practically viable idea?

There are several challenges Elon Musk needs to overcome to make heavy-duty all-electric goods carriers a commercial reality. While these zero-emission and eco-friendly behemoths plying silently on interstates and city roads sound like a dream, Tesla Motors will have to consider the actual duties of the trucks, which include long-range and heavy load-carrying capacities.

Usually semis cover anywhere between 400 to 600 miles a day. Unfortunately, batteries cannot hope to offer such a huge range unless several are packed together. Considering the fact that Model S sedan sports a pack that tops out at 100 kWh, the all-electric semis would need a battery of size anywhere between 600 to 800 kWh to offer a decent range of 200 to 300 miles.

Unfortunately, the trucks would still need regular pit stops to top up these batteries if they wish to ply the interstates. Interestingly, it is possible that Musk intends to offer these electric goods carriers for the last-mile warehouse delivery within the city limits. Diesel trucks in urban areas have always been loathed for their noise and pollution. The Tesla trucks could silently snake through dense city traffic and deliver the goods without polluting the area.

While an all-electric goods carrier might seem a farfetched concept, so did an all-electric completely autonomous car that can read and predict traffic pattern, and take corrective action while speeding through traffic. Incidentally, a few companies have been developing their own versions of low- to zero-emission cargo vehicles. The most notable mentions include Urban eTruck from Mercedes-Benz, and Nikola Motor Co.’s hydrogen fuel cell truck. Both companies have working prototypes, but are still fine-tuning their vehicles. Even companies like Uber Technologies has been developing heavy-duty semi-trucks with self-driving capabilities.

Tesla Motors has been laying the groundwork to ensure the Model S sedan and Model X sport utility vehicle don’t suffer from “range anxiety” by deploying an impressive network of Supercharger stations. Hence it would be quite possible for the Tesla truck to simply plug in and charge while the driver takes a federally mandatory break from a long-haul journey.

[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]