The Tesla Semi with a modified Plaid tri-motor powertrain has some impressive specs, though they have not been fully disclosed by the manufacturer. Motortrend visited PepsiCo's Frito-Lay facility where it spoke with company representatives, Semi drivers and Tesla representatives to learn more about it.
The first deliveries of Tesla Semi took place about two months ago. The company has revealed some outstanding details about the truck, but has kept many of them publicly undisclosed. Motortrend visited the PepsiCo event at Frito-Lay, where there are already 15 Semis, to get more information about their specs as well as get a glimpse of the car's exterior and interior. During the visit, the publication spoke with representatives of Tesla and PepsiCo, as well as with drivers of the trucks.
According to a Tesla spokesperson, the Semi has “three times the power of the average diesel semi,” and effectively sports a lightly modified Model S Plaid tri-motor powertrain spun around backward. The Model S's front motor drives the Semi's rear axle, functioning as the “highway drive unit,” while the Plaid's dual rear motors are mounted on the Semi's middle axle. These motors feature a clutch, allowing them to be used for acceleration and to decouple once at speed for improved efficiency.
Motortrend used the specifications of the best-selling semi-trailer in the US, the Freightliner Cascadia, to calculate Tesla Semi's power. Freightliner Cascadia has a power of 350 hp in its basic version and if this figure is three times higher, then this comes out to 1050 hp. Motortrend wrote that it is fairly confident in saying the Semi matches the Model S and Model X Plaid's 1,020 hp, and possibly its 1,050 lb-ft of torque, as well.
When evaluating the battery, the publication again turned to Plaid. Several PepsiCo's drivers of Tesla Semis presented during the event said the truck has a 1,000 kWh or 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) battery pack, which is equivalent to 10 Plaid batteries daisy-chained together. This information is consistent with Tesla's 500-mile range claim and Elon Musk's claim that the Semi uses 2kW per mile. Frito-Lay drivers said their daily Semi routes are much shorter as they deliver chips to sites that are close by, about 85 miles away.
Frito-Lay has installed four Superchargers in dedicated Tesla Semi parking lots, each with a unique square plug not compatible with any other Tesla currently on sale. The chargers are capable of delivering 750 kW. According to Frito-Lay, that is enough to charge a Tesla Semi from nearly 0% to 70% in about 30 minutes (enough for a 400-mile run) and to 100% in about 90 minutes.
One Frito-Lay driver said Tesla Semi handled like an ordinary car, and called it incredibly comfortable. Pulling the electric handle on the door will open bus-like steps. Once in the cabin, you will feel an incredible space where a person as tall as 6 feet can comfortably stand at full height. The floor is rubberized, Tesla headliner cloth is on the walls, and a jump seat is on the right side.
A comfortable seat in the middle of the cabin provides a magnificent view of the road with excellent visibility. Massive side mirrors are complemented by camera displays on the left and right infotainment screens. These displays control most of the Semi's functions. Aside from camera images, the left display solely displays truck status information such as tire pressure, while the right display functions as the primary infotainment interface. It features suspension settings, trailer hitch controls, HVAC functions (including seat-heater settings), navigation, trip functions, and a host of apps, such as Spotify and “Caraoke.”
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.