“There’s only one thing beyond ludicrous, which is plaid”

The Semi event is behind us. No more speculations then on what could be the “other” surprise that might be presented during that very evening. Enter the next generation Roadster. What a beauty:

Tesla-Roadster

Behind that pretty face there are some mean facts:

  • 0-60 mph in 1.9 seconds – faster than ANY production car ever (0-100 mph in 4.2 if you care).
  • A quarter mile in 8.9 seconds  – first production car to go under 9 seconds.
  • 620 miles (more than 1000 kilometers) of range at highway speed – first electric car to achieve this,
  • 200 kWh battery – the largest capacity in an EV so far,
  • 10000 Nm of torque – even Elon calls it “Stupid”,
  • 250+ mph maximum speed.

Wow. No, more like WOW! Lucky those who had a chance to experience the crazy acceleration during the event. No wonder everyone flocked immediately to the Roadster once the presentation was complete. It has definitely stolen some of the spotlight from the Semi, but justifiably so.

The intention is clear as well. To quote Mr. Musk again “the point of doing this is to give a hardcore smack down to gasoline cars” and “driving a gasoline sport car is going to feel like a steam engine with a side if quiche”. Touché.

The new generation Roadster will go into production in 2020 and will have a base price tag of $200,000 ($50,000 more for Founders Edition). While most of us can only dream about owning one, quite a few have already placed a reservation (a mere $50,000 for base model). No surprise, as this is going to be faster than ANYTHING currently offered on the market, even among the super-cars that have much higher price tag. It’s all about the bragging rights! Everyone else better get used to this view instead:

Tesla-Roadster-(rear)

What a gorgeous car it is …

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BAMFed!

Tesla-Semi

So, I didn’t stay awake to catch the Tesla Semi reveal after all. Affected by a jet lag after my recent trip to Europe I fell asleep before the event started. Not to fret, there’s plenty of coverage of the event to indulge, devour and dissect.  What an evening it was!

I was right that the Semi is going to be a stunningly looking vehicle. No disappointment there, as Tesla shows off yet another beautifully designed product. Following the cues of other Tesla cars (most notably Model 3, at least as far as the “nose” is concerned) the truck looks slick and futuristic. Smooth lines provide not only a visually and aesthetically pleasing outcome, but most importantly help to achieve great drag coefficient (0.36 as mentioned during the event, better than Bugatti Chiron at 0.38 or an average truck at 0.65-0.70). Elon Musk has started with a strong note citing BAMF performance (or as he has put it, a technical term they came out with *wink*). Here are some numbers:

  • 0-60 mph in 5 seconds (truck by itself or with an empty trailer)
  • 0-60 mph in 20 seconds (with maximum allowed gross weight of 80,000 pounds)
  • Ability to climb 5% grades at 65 mph
  • 500 miles of range (300 for a base version)
  • 4 independent motors at the rear wheels
  • Single gear (just like in Model S or X)

If these numbers hold true till production model is available, trucking will never be the same again!

The Semi is not only pretty, but innovative and functional. The driver’s seat is in the center of the cabin, offering the best position and visibility. The cabin’s interior looks like the cockpit of a futuristic jet plane with 2 large touchscreens on each side of the driver. No gauges, buttons or other instruments traditionally found in the similar cargo carriers. The windshield is made of armored glass (or “thermonuclear explosion-proof glass” in Tesla terms) that should be able to withstand any road hazards.

Tesla-Semi-interior

Of course, being a Tesla, the truck will be equipped with similar safety features already available in other of its cars, such as Enhanced Autopilot (EAP), Lane Keeping, Emergency Braking and Forward Collision Detection. The Semi will be able to automatically come to a full stop and make an emergency call should the driver need medical attention. Of course, the driver will also be able to use the Tesla mobile app to check on the truck. Some of the additional functions will be related to preventive maintenance, communication with the fleet service or remote diagnostics.
Another great promise was related to a convoy scenario – only the leading vehicle will be operated by the driver and the rest of the convoy will simply follow the leader. Musk claimed that this is already possible today. Sounds impressive.

Tesla’s network of Superchargers already helps the owners of Model S, X and soon 3 to overcome their range anxiety. To help with the charging needs of the bigger brother, Tesla plans to introduce Megachargers (backed up by Solar and Powerpack technology) that will allow to regain 400 miles of range in 30 mins. Elon has hinted that this can be done while the cargo is being unloaded or during rests, so most likely there’s a plan to strategically deploy the infrastructure along the truck routes/stops. Now it only makes sense to see that some of the Superchargers are already located nearby truck stops!

There was no mention about the price of the Semi. The presentation suggested that the cost to operate the vehicle will be $1.26/mile (compared to $1.51/mile for diesel truck) or $0.85 in a convoy scenario. This takes into consideration the bulk electricity rate of 7 cents per kWh when using Megachargers (guaranteed once the infrastructure is in place). They also offer 1 million miles free of maintenance for the drive train.

All things considered, Tesla Semi has a chance to truly revolutionize the transport industry. 500 miles of range should be plenty to cover most of the cargo routes. Some of the major players (such as J.B. Hunt or Walmart) already pre-ordered Semi to test in their fleets and others will most likely follow.  If Tesla delivers on their promise, they will make the history yet again. I am super excited about the Semi as presented. The driving experience will be very similar to that of Model S or X. Heck, one day I might be able to realize my childhood dream and become a truck driver myself!

 

 

In the anticipation of Tesla Semi

Tesla_semi_event

I like the Tesla reveal events. I think the anticipation of what’s coming is even better than the actual event. The hype, fueled by media speculation given very few facts being available… the tease before the prototype is shown, especially from Elon Musk himself (“This will blow your mind clear out of your skull and into an alternate dimension. Just need to find my portal gun …” or “It can transform into a robot, fight aliens and make one hell of a latte”) only add to the anxiety.

So what to expect? If past events can offer any hint, we should not walk away disappointed. I remember following closely on Model S reveal, then the first delivery to selected customers. Model X and 3 didn’t disappoint, either (if only Tesla could hurry up and start mass producing the latter one, but I digress). It is going to be a thing of beauty, I am certain of that. It might not be revolutionary, but evolutionary – I think it is a safe bet, too. Will it meet the expectations though? The trucking industry is another beast altogether as compared to early adopters like myself, willing to put up with imperfections or promise of the future. It demands reliability and no-nonsense approach to things. The utilitarian aspect such as effective cargo hauling capacity and range will be far more important than tech gizmos (maybe with an exception of autopilot). That’s not to say there is no room for creativity and fun, but they won’t matter as much at the end of the day. I guess we will get a glimpse of what future of trucking could look like in just a few hours!