Tesla Semi postponed to 2021, what to expect from this revolutionary semi-trailer truck

Tesla Semi is an all-electric semi-trailer truck from the manufacturer Tesla, Inc., Two prototypes were presented on 16 November 2017. Series production and delivery should start in 2020, but have been postponed to 2021 due to the restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

Tesla semi-prototypes with different roofs

Construction and Technology

The Tesla Semi is a three-axle tractor, the four rear wheels of which are each driven by an electric motor. The driver sits in the middle and far forward, which should ensure particularly good all-round visibility.

The exterior mirrors were replaced by cameras, the image of which – like all the other vehicle, navigation and fleet management data displayed – is displayed on two 15-inch flat screens arranged to the left and right of the steering wheel. The cab is made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic manufactured and high enough to stand upright in it. By its streamlined shape as well as movable side flaps between the body and semi-trailer and a completely flat sub-floor, an aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.36 should be achieved.

Cabin of the Tesla Semi (prototype)

Standard features include windshield of a bullet-proof glass (armor glass) with high breaking strength. In the United States, a truck cannot continue if the windshield has a crack that is longer than 19 mm and intersects with another crack. Break-proof glass thus reduces downtime. In addition, the vehicle has an improved autopilot functionality (on motorways self-propelled) with anti-lock braking system (AEB), Automatic Lane Keeping, Forward Collision Warning, a smartphone app and a 1,000,000 miles warranty.

Performance and economy

The Tesla Semi tractor should be able to accelerate from 0 to around 100 km/h in 5 seconds alone, and in 20 seconds with a fully loaded trailer. The fully loaded truck can climb gradients of up to 5% – according to Tesla chairman Elon Musk – at 65 mph (104 km / h, according to the semi-website 60 mph or 97 km / h), while the “best diesel trucks can reach a maximum of 45 miles / h (72 km / h).”

With a full load and a speed of about 100 km/h, the truck should consume less than 2 kWh per mile, which should enable a range of at least 480 or 800 km (depending on the model variant) with a full battery. Within 30 minutes, the battery should then be recharged for a distance of 640 km at “Megacharger” charging stations that are still to be built and expected to be fully powered by solar energy.

Operating costs should be at least 20% lower than a conventional diesel truck of this size (diesel $1.51 per mile, Tesla $1.26 per mile, each fully loaded at 60 mph), and even lower for platooning ($0.85 a mile). The latter is said to make the Tesla Semi more economical than rail transport, according to Elon Musk. However, it remains open for discussion how these numbers were determined. As for pricing, Tesla expects $150,000 for the 480-kilometer (300 miles) and $180,000 for the 800-kilometer (500 miles) model. Comparable diesel articulated lorries cost around $120,000 today. The payback period, the manufacturer stated at two years for the surcharge of the Tesla Semi.


The day after the first presentation, Walmart announced an order for 15 Tesla Semis to test the new technology. Five of these are to be used in the USA and 10 in Canada. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon based the order on sustainability goals. Walmart operates a truck fleet of approximately 6,000 vehicles. The next day, an order of 25 vehicles by the Canadian food retail chain was Loblaw Companies known. A deposit of $ 20,000 is required per vehicle ordered.

By December 19, 2017, Tesla had placed a total of 381 orders, including 125 vehicles for UPS, 100 for PepsiCo, 50 for the food manufacturer Sysco and 40 for the Anheuser-Busch brewery group. This corresponds to a down payment of $7.6 million and an expected order volume of at least $57 million.


For the semi, Tesla did not publish any information about the empty mass or the usable mass, which was criticized. The useful mass of the semi compared to diesel trucks could be limited by a large mass of energy storage. Analysts estimated the mass of the battery of the 800-kilometer (500 miles) model to be about 4.5 to 6.4 tons. The lighter engines would result in an additional weight of around 2.7 to 4.6 tons. These calculations are based on the data of the battery technology used today, while the announced performance data of the semi – also according to analysts’ assessment – are not possible with today’s batteries. Weight savings through the CFRP used-Materials are also not taken into account in the above estimate.

Contact the author: archiehunt@wheelsjoint.com