Elon Musk Unveils the New Tesla Trunk With a 500-Mile Range

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【Summary】 Elon Musk, in his typical dramatic fashion, unveiled Tesla’s semi-truck at a special event last night in Hawthorne, California. Instead of diesel, the truck is powered by a massive battery, capable of hauling 80,000 pounds of freight for 500 miles.

Original   Eric Walz  ·  Nov 17, 2017 10:45 AM PT
author: Eric Walz   

HAWTHORNE, Calif., — Elon Musk, in his typical dramatic fashion, unveiled Tesla's semi-truck at a special event last night in Hawthorne, California. Instead of diesel, the truck is powered by a massive battery, capable of hauling 80,000 pounds of freight for 500 miles.

Musk describing it as "designed like a bullet." The truck can use one of the company's high-output Megachargers, to give it a 400-mile charge in 30 minutes.

The massive battery battery takes up a space under the cab, supplying power to four electric motors — two for each axle. The motors are the same as those used in the Model 3. The model 3's horsepower is listed as 258, meaning Tesla's truck is somewhere in the 1,000 horsepower range, which is close to a traditional diesel powered truck. The powertrain also enables a speed of 65 mph while going up a 5% grade.

Other technologies included in the Tesla Semi include Enhanced Autopilot, for autonomous driving over long stretches of highway. Operators of the truck benefit from a large interior with a center mounted console, as opposed to the rest of the U.S. trucking industry with the steering wheel on the left side of the cab. The center console position give the operator a commanding view of the road. Information is displayed on two large touchscreen displays, just like in the Model S and X.

tesla-interior-660.jpg

The Tesla Truck's center mounted minimalist interior

One other key element of the new Semi is that it will automatically avoid one of the most dangerous and traffic inducing safety hazards of a semi-truck —jackknifing. The Tesla Semi with equipped with an advanced version of traction control, a safety system which is already mandated on every car sold in the U.S.

The Tesla Semi has active safety measures designed to prevent jackknifing from happening. Using the electric drivetrain, which Musk confirmed includes four independent electric motors for each of the wheels, the truck can sense distribution of weight across wheel and actuate the motors or brake them accordingly to maximize traction control, and automatically correct for thing like oversteer in response to weight shifts.

The result is a truck that will do everything in its power to avoid a jackknifing incident, automatically, without requiring any driver intervention, regardless of what trailer or load is attached at the back. "Jackknifing is impossible," said Elon Musk on stage at the Tesla Semi unveiling.

This could be a huge feature in terms of offering drivers additional peace of mind, and giving logistics companies additional assurance that their investment and personnel are protected.

Another feature is the truck's aerodynamics. The truck achieved a drag coefficient of 0.36, which is unprecedented for a truck and even beats several modern passenger cars.

Production of the truck is expected to begin in 2019. Musk said customers who order now would get the vehicles in two years. However, like all things Tesla, there is no guarantee customers will actually get the truck in two years. Unforeseen delays may push the release date further ahead, as Tesla concentrates on ramping up production of its long awaited Model 3 sedan.

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