In case you were haboring any concerns that the electric semi-trailer truck unveiled by Tesla last November was nothing but a cardboard mockup powered by hamsters, have no fear as a prototype has just been spotted silently cruising down a suburban street.
What's perhaps most remarkable is how quiet the truck is. Just imagine the noise pollution you'd get from a diesel-powered truck barreling down the road at the same speed as the Tesla truck in this video.
Labeled the Tesla Semi, the truck promises to deliver the best safety credentials of any truck its class, in this case Class 8 Heavy Duty. The truck is also quick, relatively speaking. Tesla quotes a 0-60 mph time of about 20 seconds, and that’s with a gross weight of 80,000 pounds. The performance is made possible by four powerful electric motors mounted at the rear axles.
Interestingly, Tesla has gone with a center driving position for the Semi, giving the truck something in common with the McLaren F1 supercar. You can clearly see the driver sitting in the center of the prototype. One key difference with the prototype and the Semis previously shown is the addition of physical side mirrors. Tesla had envisaged using rear-facing cameras that project images onto two display screens, one either side of the driver’s seat, though it looks like the legality of the option is still to be determined.
The Semi will start at $150,000 for a 300-mile version, climbing to $180,000 for a 500-mile range version. That's definitely competitive in terms of pricing, though the range is about half what you can expect in a diesel truck. Tesla says users will be able to add about 400-miles of charge in around 30 minutes, which if accurate should help alleviate range anxiety.
Tesla already has a number of firm orders for the Semi, which is due to enter production in 2019. Among the interested parties are Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch and delivery firm UPS.