The Tesla Semi reveal will be late. I know, I know. Tesla and Elon Musk are about to miss another self imposed deadline. Is anyone really surprised? The truth is, Musk gets more mileage out of missing deadlines — publicity wise — than most companies get by meeting them. That’s probably because Musk’s targets are always designed to “reach the unreachable stars” when others set their goals as low as possible.
The Tesla Semi, the Class 8 electric truck the company has been tweeting about for over a year, was supposed to be introduced to the public sometime in September. But Elon just tweeted that October 26 is now the scheduled date and even that is tentative. The reveal will take place in Hawthorne, California, where SpaceX has its headquarters. Musk describes the Tesla Semi in typically hyperbolic terms. It’s “unreal,” he modestly proclaims.
Tesla Semi truck unveil & test ride tentatively scheduled for Oct 26th in Hawthorne. Worth seeing this beast in person. It's unreal.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 13, 2017
What is unreal about it? Well, that’s part of Musk’s charm, isn’t it, to keep us on tenterhooks, salivating for more information? We know he said at the Tesla annual shareholders meeting earlier this year that the company has been working with its “biggest customers” on the design of the Semi, so they already know what it will be. “They want to know how many can they buy and how soon,” he said.
Then he added this tantalizer. He said he “really recommends” people come to the unveiling event if at all possible because “maybe there is a little more than we are saying here.” What does that mean? Your guess is as good as mine.
What we do know is that Morgan Stanley analysts Ravi Shanker and Adam Jonas believe the Tesla Semi will be the biggest disruptor of the trucking industry since the introduction of air brakes. Tesla hasn’t said anything about recharging their beast, but Shanker and Jonas suggest that battery swapping will be part of the package, with swapping stations costing about $500,000 each. The tractor is assumed to have a range of between 200 and 300 miles on a single battery charge.
Don’t clear your schedule for October 26 quite yet. Musk and Tesla have a habit of pushing things back, then pushing them back some more. But the excitement is building. Other companies are jumping into the electric truck swim. Cummins just announced it has developed its own electric powertrain for Class 7 short range trucks. BYD, WrightSpeed, and Motiv Power also want in on the action.
Which is a good thing. Diesel emissions are a significant proportion of total emissions, including particulates, from the transportation sector. The sooner electric trucks go mainstream, the sooner we will all be able to breathe a little easier.