Five ways Tesla's new models can revolutionise the EV market

Elon Musk's surprise double reveal of a new Tesla supercar and electric semi-truck made waves over the weekend. Here, edie examines how the models could transform the EV sector in the years ahead.

The Tesla Semi offers a range of 500 miles at maximum weight at highway speeds. Photo: Tesla

The Tesla Semi offers a range of 500 miles at maximum weight at highway speeds. Photo: Tesla

At a theatrical launch event at Tesla’s design studio near Los Angeles on Thursday (16 November), Musk dazzled automobile enthusiasts with a sleek zero-emission semi-truck with semi-autonomous capabilities and a new edition of the firm’s first vehicle, the Roadster.

The supercar, Musk said, would give a “hardcore smackdown” to gasoline rivals, while the truck would outperform diesel in every way. The latter model, which has already gained orders from Wal-Mart and J.B Hunt, could see Musk exploit a very lucrative commerical trucking market – analysts have suggested that a 10% share of the market could be worth $2.5bn in annual revenue for Tesla.

Musk claimed that the truck would be available in 2019 and the Roadster a year later. So how exactly can these vehicles help the South African business magnate in his bold vision to revolutionise the transport sector with environmentally-friendly vehicles?

Range

The Tesla Semi, hailed by Musk for its “badass performance”, offers a range of 500 miles at maximum weight at highway speeds. This is in comparison to diesel trucks which are capable of travelling up to 1,000 miles on a single tank. It can drive for another 400 miles with just a 30-minute charge from a “megacharger”, Musk said.

The four-seat Roadster, meanwhile, has a 200kWh battery pack and will have a 620-mile range on a single charge. “Driving a gasoline sports car is going to feel like a steam engine with a side of quiche,” Musk said.

Speed

Marketed as the “fastest production car ever made”, the Roadster can go from 0-to-60mph in 1.8 seconds. Musk revealed that it will be the first such car to break the two second mark, and clear a quarter mile in 8.9 seconds. He would not reveal its top speed, but hinted it will be “above 250mph”.

The Semi will be able to go from 0-60mph in five seconds without cargo, Musk revealed, compared to 15 seconds in a similar diesel truck. He also confirmed it will reach 60mph in 20 seconds without cargo at the maximum weight allowed on US highways.

Cost

Questions have been raised about the cost-effectiveness of the new models. The base model price for the Roadster will be $200,000, and while Musk didn’t disclose the Semi’s price, he admitted it is “going to be expensive”. However, Musk touted the truck as 20% cheaper to run than a diesel semi.

He gave a hint about the Semi’s premium over a diesel semi when he claimed that the expected payback period from fuel savings will be around two years under average operating conditions. Fully loaded, the Semi is expected to consumer less than 2kWh of energy/mile.

Aero efficiency

Tesla insists that the Roadstar “maximises the potential of aerodynamic engineering – with record setting efficiency”. It is also hoped that the Semi will be able to reduce carbon emissions and maintain fuel efficiency through its aerodynamic profile. Musk claimed that the Semi has a drag coefficient of 0.36. To put that in perspective, the $2.7m Bugatti Chiron supercar’s drag coefficient is 0.38.

Semi-autonomy

The Semi possesses Tesla’s latest semi-autonomous driving system, which can enable the vehicle to stay in its lane without drifting, change lanes on demand, and shift from one freeway to another with no human intervention.

Easing any potential concerns about its safety, Musk said the vehicle is designed to have a higher safety standard than any other heavy-duty truck on the market. A reinforced battery shields the Semi from impact, and onboard sensors can detect instability and react with torque to each wheel while independently activating all brakes.

George Ogleby


Tags

elon musk | technology | low-carbon

Topics

Energy efficiency & low-carbon
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