Elon Musk confirms Tesla Semi has battery pack around 900 kWh, but more answers are needed


Elon Musk has confirmed Tesla Semi’s efficiency at 1.7 kWh per mile, which means it has a roughly 900 kWh battery pack. It’s an important piece of information, but there are still more questions to answer before Tesla Semi can officially be a truly disruptive product.

Yesterday, Tesla unveiled the production version of its Tesla Semi class 8 electric truck and delivered the first units.

At the event, Tesla described an electric truck that could truly disrupt the trucking industry.

However, we noted that there were a few pieces of information that Tesla omitted from the event that could really be major difference makers.

The two main ones are the weight of the actual truck and its price:

The trucking industry is all about the economics of moving products by the pound. The main thing that will drive that is the cost of operation per mile, which is mainly affected by the vehicle’s efficiency.

Tesla has already reported an efficiency under 2 kWh per mile which is impressive, but not exactly clear when you are trying to determine your cost per mile for electricity.

On Twitter last night, Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed that it is 1.7 kWh per mile. That’s more precise, and truck operators can input their electricity rates to get an idea of fuel costs and savings compared to diesel.

It also gives us an idea of the Tesla Semi’s battery pack. It’s not perfect since we don’t have the exact range of the truck. At 500 miles, which Tesla claims, that’s 850 kWh, but the pack generally has a buffer, and based on the 500-mile trip it completed, it looks like the electric truck might have some more in it.

Tesla Semi assembly

Now what we need to know is how much cargo can a Tesla Semi carry. A class 8 truck fully loaded needs to weigh 80,000 pounds or less as per regulations, but electric trucks have been allowed an extra 2,000 pounds.

In order to know that, we need to know the weight of the truck itself. You have to deduct the weight of the trailer, which is about 10,000 pounds for a 53-foot trailer, and the weight of the truck from the 82,000-pound limit.

Tesla says that it will roughly have the same capacity as a diesel truck, but diesel tractors have a wide range of weight from roughly 12,000 to 25,000 pounds. The Tesla Semi’s power would certainly need to be compared more to the higher end of that range, but at the end of the day, trucking companies want as much cargo capacity as possible.

The automaker hasn’t confirmed the weight of the Tesla Semi, but we can deduce from its load test with concrete blocks that it is around 27,000 pounds, but that’s unconfirmed at this point.

That’s not the best, but it would still give the Tesla Semi the capacity to move about 45,000 pounds of cargo, which still makes the vehicle super useful. Also, it is safe to assume that the number will improve greatly over the years as battery technology improves.

But nonetheless, it would be useful if Tesla could confirm the weight of the Tesla Semi.

Then we need the actual price of the truck. In 2017, Tesla said the trucks would be $150,000, $180,000, and $200,000, depending on the model, but those prices are expected to have changed over the last five years.

Those prices with that capacity would make the Tesla Semi revolutionary since it would pay itself back in about three years just from fuel savings in most markets, but we don’t know that for a fact without the official price.

Electrek’s Take

This is pretty wild. We are super close to being able to confirm that the Tesla Semi can change the entire paradigm of the trucking industry, but Tesla just needs to release a few more pieces of information to make it happen.

The fact that Tesla doesn’t let the press into its events and only superfans is really a bad look for the company at this point. Yes, the press can be annoying, even malicious in some cases, and I don’t say they should let those people in, but there are also plenty of people whose goal is just to keep their readers as best informed as possible, and they would ask important questions at those events that need answering – questions that a lot of fans don’t bother asking. Everything Musk says is good enough for them.

I can’t ask any of those questions because Tesla doesn’t have a PR department, and the only official comments you can get these days are from Musk on Twitter, where he blocks me and surrounds himself with sycophants:

This is just not how a company that aims to be transparent should operate. And obviously, I’m not talking about trade secrets here.

Anyway, the rant is over. I hope Tesla is going to release that information soon, and if it is on the right side, I’ll be the first to celebrate Tesla revolutionizing the trucking industry.

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