Tesla very recently introduced to the world to their new Electric semi truck, and the world was suitably impressed. Tesla has managed to develop a truck that can travel 800 km on a single charge, can accelerate from 0 to 100 km an hour with a full 35 tonne load in 20 seconds, and can ascend a 5% hill with the same load at 110 km/hr.
These power statistics a very impressive and headline-grabbing, but more importantly for the trucking industry is the cost savings that come from an electric truck. Cost savings originate from two areas, the very low cost of electricity compared to diesel, and the very long lifetime of the electric drivetrain, which is warrantie by Tesla or 1.6 million km.
The electric truck operating in a hilly environment or a stop go built up environment has a major advantage over diesel trucks in that around 98% or the energy that it’s built up at speed can be recovered if it needs to stop or slow down. An electric truck that are sends and then descends a large hill can recover almost all of its energy used in the ascent, and the brake pads remain unused. Tesla also has the technology to allow one lead truck in a convoy to be followed by a number of other trucks that are driverless, and this will not only cut out the cost of the drivers but also cut fuel consumption dramatically for the following vehicles. The end result is that electric trucks in convoy can transport goods at less than 50% of the cost for diesel truck.
The onging regular cost of engine maintenance is significant for diesel trucks, but in Tesla’s electric truck this cost disappears. The truck is powered by 4 independent electric motors that are identical to the electric motors in the Tesla Model 3, and these motors have only 2 or 3 moving parts and essentially can last for millions of miles. Tesla has also removed another large maintenance cost by using a patented hardened windscreen which can survive any stones without even a mark, as compared to normal windscreens which always have to be replaced. Across a large trucking fleet the average time between replacements per vehicle is around 1 month, and the cost of this is significant not only in the replacement cost but also in the time the truck is out of action.
Trucking companies are already placing multiple orders for the trucks, even though they will not arrive until 2020. A firm in Canada that transports heavy machinery into the bush intends to strip off all of the aerodynamic fairings on the trucks to make it easier to put snow chains on wheels, but they intend to use the truck in all situations including moving very heavy equipment and machinery. The four independent rear wheels will allow the truck to move up steep rough roads much faster and safer than diesel equivalents.
Trucking firms in Europe are also extremely excited, because the truck purchase will see pay back in around 7 months as compared to existing diesel trucks and is an absolute no-brainer for most applications for heavy trucking.