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Tesla to enter trucking business with new electric semi
18 November 2017, 12:51 | Antonio Miles
Walmart plans to pilot test the new Tesla Semi
Given how much Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk hyped-up Tesla Semi ahead of its unveiling Thursday night, it was clear that overdelivering wouldn't be easy.
Both vehicles are fast: The Roadster can take itself from zero to 60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds, and the Semi can perform the same feat in five seconds (unburdened by a trailer), Tesla says.
But some analysts fear the truck, named Tesla Semi, will be an expensive distraction for Tesla, which is burning cash, has never posted an annual profit, and is in self-described "manufacturing hell" starting up production of the $35,000 United States ($44, 600 Cdn) Model 3 sedan.
The new Roaster seats four and costs at least $200,000.
The semi truck, called Tesla Semi, can go as far as 500 miles between charges and can haul 80,000 pounds at a time.
Thanks to four independent drive trains, the Semi should be capable of accelerating from zero to 60 miles per hour in 20 seconds with an 80,000-pound load.
Without a large diesel engine, the driver will have a roomier cab than in other trucks, Tesla said.
Tesla claims the electric costs of the Semi are half that of a traditional diesel semi truck, thanks to fewer systems to maintain (no transmission or brake pads to name a few), providing a number of over $200,000 United States dollars in fuel savings, and a two-year payback period. And the truck integrates several components of the Model 3, including the screens, motors and door handles. This technology allows for automatic breaking, lane keeping and lane departure warnings. Elon Musk recently described it as "production hell". "It probably is, based on the specs provided, but this isn't necessarily a slam dunk".
Analyst at Kelly Blue Book, Rebecca Lindland, told CNBC: "The biggest challenge Tesla faces with its semi is customers". Walmart has confirmed that it reserved fifteen Tesla Semi trucks, telling CNBC that it had earmarked ten for the U.S. and the remaining five for Canada. And like Tesla's existing Supercharger network, there will be enough charging locations to enable long-distance travel worldwide, Tesla said.
"The new Tesla Roadster will be the fastest production vehicle ever made, period", he declared. "So far, that final element has eluded Tesla Motors, which makes it hard to see these vehicles as more than "what if" concept cars".
But most of that growth is expected to be for smaller, medium-duty haulers like garbage trucks or delivery vans.
Total cost of ownership is supposedly 15% to 20% cheaper than traditional diesel trucks, and if then add on "meaningfully better performance", the analyst cheers. And charging even a mid-sized truck would likely require a two-hour stop, cutting into companies' efficiency and profits, says Brian Irwin, managing director of the North American industrial group for the consulting firm Accenture.
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