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Tesla Semi: watch the electric truck burn rubber

Published: 23 February 2018

► Tesla Semi truck burns rubber
► Features physical, road-legal wing mirrors

► Intended for lighter loads or short, heavy deliveries

After a brief hiatus, Tesla’s semi-truck is back on the streets – and this time it’s demonstrating its ample torque. In a video circulating the internet, a Tesla semi-truck is seen cruising slowly on a narrow road, only to blast off into the distance halfway through. In fact, the Tesla actually leaves black lines on the road.

It’s unclear just how far the Tesla semi-truck filmed is from the final production version, but interestingly, it does show the same continuous rear light we saw on the concept.

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For everything else we know about the Tesla Semi, keep reading.

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Tesla Semi: everything else you need to know

Tesla's all-electric brand’s new truck is a massive long-distance hauler with performance that can put diesel trucks to shame. 'We really care about performance,' said Musk at the vehicle's unveil. 'We wanted a vehicle that feels incredible, that accelerates like nothing else.’ 

That means a 0-60mph launch in just five seconds, even with a trailer. If it’s fully loaded, carrying 80,000lbs (around 36,000kg), acceleration is rated at 20 seconds.

All that torque also means the new Semi can go up hills fully loaded at 65mph, compared to a diesel truck’s 45mph max speed. ‘You’re then earning 50% more per mile – gigantic difference,’ says Musk.

How many miles on one charge? Elon claims 500 miles when the vehicle is fully laden, travelling at 60mph – ‘that’s worst-case scenario.’ Tesla claims 80% of routes are less than 250 miles, meaning you can do your delivery and then drive back on one charge.

Enhanced Autopilot with AEB, lane keep assist and collision warning is standard. Thanks to the chassis construction, there’s a low centre of gravity meaning minimal body roll. There’s also a jack-knifing prevention system that Musk says is ‘a trucker’s worst nightmare. It’ll dynamically adjust the torque on each wheel, so that jack-knifing is impossible.’

Inside, there’s a central driving position, two massive touchscreens and room to stand and move about. Musk claims that diesel trucks require a lot of extra (and expensive) modifications and add-ons ‘that don’t talk to each other.’ The Semi has all the systems required for long-distance hauling and all are integrated into the screens. Musk says the cockpit is ‘incomparably better than any truck in the world.’

The Semi can charge 400 miles in 30 minutes – just long enough for your average truck stop and means six hours of driving. Tesla’s new Megachargers run on solar power, so there are less grid fluctuations and a guaranteed amount of charge.

Every Semi comes with a 1 million-mile warranty, and Tesla has opened up the truck for reservations. When will we actually see one hit the road? Who knows – after all, we’re having to wait longer than necessary for production-spec Model 3s…

Are Tesla's specs accurate?

According to Electrek, a transporting company that was actually involved in the Tesla Semi’s development has confirmed the quoted specs are there or there abouts. The claims come from a note by Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas, and say he spoke to XOP Logistics – a company consulted in the early days of the Tesla Semi.

While the XOP Logistics didn’t confirm the headline-topping 500 mile range, the company did vouch for the 400 mile in 30 minutes recharging times, along with the truck’s anti-jack knife features and payload stats.

Tesla Semi truck orders

According to ReutersPepsiCo has pre-ordered 100 Tesla Semi trucks, and it’s a significant step for Elon Musk’s latest project. What’s more, each pre-order is reported to cost $20,000 (£15,000), which means Tesla just netted a cool $2 million (£1.5m) from the fizzy drink manufacturer.

The Tesla trucks will be used for quite specific tasks. According to a Pepsi employee, the Tesla Semis will be used for ‘lighter loads like snacks or shorter shipments of heavier beverages.’ That suggests the Tesla truck isn’t yet capable of replacing trucks at more conventional, heavy-load, long-haul tasks.

Tesla Semi: demand**

The Tesla Semi is getting very popular. Just days after PepsiCo handed Elon Musk an order for 100 electric trucks, UPS announced an order for an additional 125 – making it the largest purchase yet.

 UPS stated 125 of Tesla’s electric trucks will join its ‘extensive alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicle fleet,’ which already includes vehicles propelled by natural gas and propane.

To evaluate the possible performance of the new trucks, UPS shared data with Tesla about its trucking lane information, and it looks like the Tesla Semi is going to compliment the company’s existing fleet.

‘For more than a century, UPS has led the industry in testing and implementing new technologies for more efficient fleet operations. We look forward to expanding further our commitment to fleet excellence with Tesla,’ said chief information and engineering officer for UPS, Juan Perez. ‘These groundbreaking electric tractors are poised to usher in a new era in improved safety, reduced environmental impact, and reduced cost of ownership.’

UPS goes on to cite the Tesla Semi’s 500 mile range, semi-autonomous controls and low running costs as important factors for its purchase.

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast