Elon Musk made an appearance at TED2017 in Vancouver on Friday, where he revealed a teaser photograph of the upcoming Tesla Semi. Look all good teasers, it conceals as much as it reveals. Most prominent in the photo are the headlights, which resemble those found on the company’s Model S sedan and Model X SUV.
Like Apple, Tesla places a premium on styling. Expect the Tesla Semi to be one of the most visually appealing Class 8 heavy duty trucks on the road. But styling is not what the people buying big rigs care about. In the world of freight hauling, grunt is what it’s all that matters — the ability to haul 80,000 lb loads over the mountains and across the plains of America. And that is precisely where electric motors are at their best.
Musk says the Tesla Semi will “out-torque” the biggest, badest, brawniest diesel powered rigs on the road, thanks to its use of electric motors. He says he has driven the prototype and calls it “spry” — a curious adjective to describe a 12 foot tall truck. It’s like driving a sports car, he insists, something no Peterbilt drivers has never said.
Musk had other news. He told the audience Tesla may announce up to four new Gigafactory locations this year, without specifying where they will be located. Musk has previously said the world will need about 100 Gigafactories to store all the renewable energy necessary to complete the transition away from fossil fuels. “I just hope I don’t have to build them all myself,” he once quipped. That is unlikely. Panasonic announced this week that it is building a new 860,000 square foot battery factory in Dailin, China this year.
Where will they be located? China is high on the list of possibilities. Musk had an unannounced private meeting with Vice Premier Wang Yang two days before he showed up in Vancouver — the first auto CEO ever granted that privilege. Tesla is anxious to start building cars in China and it will need a battery factory there as well.
Something else happened yesterday. A video surfaced on YouTube explaining Musk’s vision for a network of underground tunnels to relieve congestion in the world’s cities. It shows Teslas being driven onto pallets powered by electric motors that are lowered by elevators to the tunnels below. Once there, they speed along at up to 124 miles per hour. “You should be able to go from say Westwood to LAX in 5–6 minutes,” said Musk in Vancouver. That same trip on surface streets can take up to an hour during peak traffic periods.
Sharp eyed observers will notice the video was posted by Tesla Europe. Is that a hint about where one of those new Gigafactories will be?
Source: TechCrunch Photo credit: Tesla