Tesla presented the first copies of the Tesla Semi five years after its introduction

Tesla held an overnight conference to mark the delivery of the first Tesla Semis to the first customers of the American manufacturer’s all-electric semi-trailer. Five years after its introduction and three years behind the original schedule, the Tesla Semi is no longer just a concept and a few internally used prototypes, but a car that can tow a full load more than 800 km thanks to a huge battery. .

Tesla Semi program manager Elon Musk and Dan Priestley during the truck’s launch conference (Tesla video recording).

This conference did not reveal anything new in principle, but Tesla fulfilled its contract by offering everything that was announced in 2017. Despite numerous delays, especially due to the pandemic and component shortages, the manufacturer presents Class 8 semi-trailers. circulating on American roads without a fuel engine. These vehicles make up only 1% of those on the road in the United States, but they are responsible for 20% of the country’s emissions, and their electrification should be an important step in the energy transition.

The limitations are very different for a semi-trailer, which can naturally carry loads of tens of tons over long distances. Not only does it require power to maintain such a good speed while climbing, it also requires a large reserve of energy to cope with the higher consumption. The Tesla Semi must meet both points, on the one hand a system based on three engines, like the Model S and Model X Plaid, the manufacturer’s fastest cars. A motor placed on the axle rotates constantly to maintain speed, while the other two are grouped together on another axle and used only during acceleration phases. Thus, Tesla promises a car that is three times more powerful than its best thermal competitor.

This combination, combined with all of Tesla’s know-how in terms of efficiency (its internally designed engines remain among the most efficient on the market) and an original design that improves its aerodynamics, should allow it to offer relatively measured consumption. when the truck is at cruising speed. True, the manufacturer did not give the exact capacity of the integrated battery to the Tesla Semi, but nevertheless, the conference allowed us to get a little more information about consumption and expected autonomy. And in any case, it seems that the initial promises will be duly fulfilled.

Tesla was targeting a range of 500 miles, or about 806 km, on a single battery and a full trailer. The manufacturer showed off its complete Tesla Semi and its 37,000 kg total weight, driving this 500-mile distance, not a step away from the time the driver took a break, without stopping to recharge the battery. In the video, the truck can be seen traveling at a speed of around 90 km/h, and the company also presented its consumption curve during the conference.

The car left Fremont with 100% battery and arrived in San Diego, Southern California with 4% capacity. It’s an interesting route because it climbs to 1,200 meters at its highest point, and the start and finish are almost at sea level. This means that the Tesla Semi can offer this iconic autonomy even with a full charge and even on the route. it is partially uphill. During this period, the consumption definitely explodes, but the regenerative braking offered by any electric car allows you to recover some of the energy when descending.

Tesla said during the conference that with a loaded trailer, the average consumption of the Semi per mile should not exceed 2 kWh. Compared to an electric car, that’s obviously huge, but given the circumstances, it’s still a great score. Starting with that high average and a range of 500 miles, that gives us a battery capacity of about 1,000 kWh, almost twenty times that of the entry-level Model 3 and still ten times that of a Model S or model. Model X.

A Tesla Semi is being charged at a mega charger (Tesla photo).

Suffice it to say that charging this massive battery required little better than a network of compressors capable of delivering 250 kW at best. Tesla has thought about this with a new terminal and a future network of “mega chargers”. These are capable of delivering up to 1,000 kW of power to the Tesla Semi, and the manufacturer has had to adjust all its hardware, including a new liquid-cooled connector. Last little surprise, all this new cargo architecture won’t be reserved for the truck, the CyberTruck will also have it. It remains to be seen if its smaller battery can handle such power.

The manufacturer did not give a time for the loads, but it is worth remembering that the trucks should take regular breaks, so it should not be a problem. Furthermore, the Tesla Semi can even be charged only during the loading and unloading phases of its contents. Tesla will, however, put megachargers on some of its current superchargers. The advantage is that the routes of the semi-trailers are generally known in advance, which simplifies the choice of placement for these ultra-fast loaders.

Details of mega chargers capable of megawatt capacity.

Prices aren’t any more popular than they were in 2017, but you won’t be able to buy a Tesla Semi anyway. On the one hand, the truck is intended for the North American market, and there is no reason to think that it will be launched in Europe. On the other hand, production at the Tesla factory in Nevada is still confidential, and we should not expect a rapid increase in speed. PepsiCo and FritoLay are the first two customers and will be the only customers to purchase the trucks for now. This is clearly not a mass-produced individual car …

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