As an interview guest at a battery conference of the European Union, CEO Elon Musk not only announced that Tesla is planning the world’s largest cell production in its Gigafactory near Berlin, but also revealed more about the semi electric semi-trailer. It was originally supposed to be delivered from 2019, but it is a long time coming. But if it does, it could have an even greater range than previously stated, according to Musk. And it may be possible not to make the Tesla Semi heavier than a conventional diesel semi-trailer when unloaded.
Tesla truck is expected to travel 1000 km
The range of up to 500 miles (a good 800 kilometers) mentioned at the presentation for the loaded semi with a total weight of 40 tons is “easy” to achieve, said Musk in the EU interview. An energy density at the level of the battery cells of 300 watt hours per kilogram is sufficient for this. Cells from various manufacturers are now approaching this value. With further improvements (presumably higher density of the 4680 cells developed by Tesla itself) he even sees a way to a range of 1000 kilometers with a full load.
The Tesla boss also said that an electric truck doesn’t have to be heavier than one with a diesel drive. The weight disadvantage (which, given the fixed upper limit of 40 tons in total, is at the expense of the payload) with the semi will probably only be one ton. Perhaps less is possible, Musk added, and it could possibly even be reduced to zero. With the long range and the low or non-existent additional weight, the Tesla truck will be an “extremely competitive and convincing” offer for logistics companies.
Ultimately, these questions depend on the energy density of the cells used, the Tesla boss explained. He also announced that the batteries will also become part of the supporting structure of the Semi. The e-truck does not get a finished (heavy) frame in which a battery pack is then inserted, but rather consists partly of the 4680 cells itself. Because these are very stable thanks to their larger format with a metal shell and can form a highly stable sandwich construction with panels above and below them.
Will the super-semi come later?
Musk first presented this principle at Tesla’s Battery Information Day at the end of September. It will be used for the first time in the Model Y from the German Gigafactory near Berlin, he said. He later pointed out that the completely new design entailed “considerable production risks” and therefore held out the prospect of a rather cautious ramp-up in Germany. With the Tesla Semi, it should look no different according to the new information from Musk. A further delay beyond the currently applicable start date at the end of 2021 therefore does not seem to be ruled out.