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Tesla Semi's <2kWh/mile Consumption Hints at Serious Battery Improvements and Cost Reduction

by Claribelle Deveza January 05, 2020

tesla-semi-battery-improvements

A look at the Tesla Semi’s official webpage shows that the electric car maker has listed the vehicle with an energy consumption of less than 2 kWh per mile. This hints at a lot of exciting possibilities for Tesla’s all-electric truck, from upcoming battery improvements to significant operating cost advantages when compared to traditional semi trucks.

The Tesla Semi is poised to be offered as a 300 and 500-mile range long-hauler. According to Elon Musk during the vehicle’s unveiling back in 2017, the Semi's range would allow it to be used for about 80 percent of cargo routes in the United States. With an energy consumption of less than 2 kWh per mile, it can be inferred that the Semi, will be equipped with a battery pack that’s around 600 kWh to 1 MWh in size.

The Tesla Semi is priced at $150,000 for the 300-mile version and $180,000 for the 500-mile version. That’s a bit higher than the average cost of diesel semis, which are around $125,000 per unit. The Semi ultimately wins on operating cost and maintenance, however, since diesel trucks consume about $20,000 in tires, parts, oil, lubricants, and other service costs annually. A price of $150,000 to $180,000 is also pretty affordable for 600 kWh and 1 MWh worth of batteries.

Ultimately, the Semi will offer vast savings compared to its diesel-powered counterparts. At 2 kWh per mile, for example, the 500-mile Semi will likely consume about $28 worth of electricity. Diesel semi trucks, which have a fuel consumption of about 6 mpg, will consume about $249 worth of fuel at $3 per gallon. This difference is worth $22,100 of savings for every 50,000 miles traveled.

The Tesla Semi was initially announced for a 2019 release date, but the vehicle has been moved back. While this has been translated by the company’s critics like TSLAQ as signs of alleged fraud, the explanation could be something far simpler: the company has been planning to release the upcoming truck with better battery tech than its vehicles today. A better battery has many benefits for the Semi, from operating efficiencies to cheaper production costs. These are advantages that will likely be appreciated by buyers of the vehicle.

Tesla, after all, has been showing signs that it is loading up on potential battery improvements. Over 2019 alone, Tesla acquired Maxwell Technologies and Hibar Systems, two companies with close ties to batteries. Patents from the company also hint at a million-mile battery project, something that Elon Musk has teased in the past months. These are all speculations, of course, but the signs are definitely there.

Elon Musk has hinted at the Semi being released with superior specs in the past, stating that the range of the long-range variant would be closer to 600 miles per charge than the initially-announced 500 miles.

Tesla-Semi-Webpage-update

During an appearance at Tesla owner-enthusiast Ryan McCaffrey’s Ride the Lightning Podcast, Tesla Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen also mentioned that the next-gen Roadster, a vehicle unveiled at the same event as the Semi, will be “better in every way” than initially announced.

Does this mean that a better battery is in the cards for the Tesla Semi? That definitely seems to be a possibility. Considering its size and the amount of skepticism it has attracted, the Semi actually becomes the perfect candidate as the poster child of Tesla’s next-generation batteries. The company’s upcoming Battery and Powertrain Day this year will likely hold some answers.

H/T: Ryanth3nerd/Twitter

Featured Image Credit: Tesla




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