Tesla’s Effect on the Industry
Last week Tesla announced their redesigned heavy-duty, aerodynamic electric semi truck. While there are already some electric trucks on the road, Musk and his brand tend to be a big influence in the world of vehicles. The new design is sleek and more aerodynamic, with covered wheels and a bullet nose. These changes will allow for faster speeds and more efficient fuel use. The most surprising change, however, is the placement of the driver in the cab– right in the middle. Sitting in the center, rather than all the way to one side, gives the driver more visibility and ultimately more control over the vehicle. It also reduces the amount of space from side to side, decreasing the amount of drag for the wind, and increasing the speed of the vehicle. Musk said in his speech that they specifically designed the truck to resemble a bullet, and considering the infamous bullet trains, it was a smart move if speed was what they were aiming for.
The semis are Class 8 rated, meaning the gross weight of the vehicle is 80,000 pounds. It reaches sixty miles per hour in twenty seconds– that’s about 40 seconds quicker than a diesel. The trucks run on what Musk called megachargers, which are solar powered, and each unit will contain four motors. He did not disclose the capacity of the batteries, nor the horsepower. Fully loaded, the semi can travel around 500 miles at highway speeds. Musk said that the Tesla semis were intended for short-range, regional routes, like port-to-distribution transportation. They do, however, satisfy many of the freight requirements, since the average route is significantly lower than 500 miles. Around eighty percent of the goods transported in the United States moves less than 250 miles. However, he also claimed that a long-haul sleeper cab is being developed.
The design and the driver placement make sense, economically, but will the slow-changing trucking industry accept these changes, or will there be push back? With the capability of much higher speeds, the issue of safety will surely come up, but Musk says safety won’t be an issue. The vehicles are equipped with the top-of-the-line safety and driver assistance systems, to the extent that they will be able to be fully autonomous when, or if, that is made legal. There is no doubt that Tesla and this new design will make a significant impact on the trucking industry, it has all the potential to be revolutionary. The question is, how long will that change take?
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Written by: Shayla Powers