On board the Tesla Semi: an electric truck that charges in the blink of an eye with XXL autonomy

Even though the Tesla Semi is just starting its career in the United States, it seems to be satisfying its first customers. The American edition of Motortrend got into Elon Musk’s electric truck and chatted with the drivers for a long time. And one thing that keeps its promises is, in particular, ultra-fast charging thanks to the Megacharger chargers designed by the American brand.

Tesla Semi // Source: Motortrend


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We have been hearing about the Tesla Semi for several years now. And it’s not for nothing that it was first mentioned in Elon Musk’s Master Plan in July 2016. Six years later, the first examples of the electric truck are finally handed over to their owner, namely the American group PepsiCo. A culmination for a brand that has already delayed its launch several times in recent years. American journalists from the Motortrend website were able to get into the Tesla electric truck, here is their photo.

Tesla Semi // Source: Motortrend

Colossal numbers

That is why, during the ceremony, the keys to several trucks were handed over to PepsiCo, which, in particular, owns Pepsi or even Frito-Lay, a subsidiary that owns Doritos, Cheetos and Lays chips. It was these two companies that received their copies already in circulation, and journalists happened to discover them in real life.

Tesla Semi // Source: Motortrend

Thus, American journalists were able, in particular, to sit on the Tesla Semi, as well as get more information about recharging the latter, which caused a lot of ink to spill. Indeed, Elon Musk’s company announced a 10% to 80% increase in just 30 minutes. A very short time considering the incredible battery capacity of around 900 kWh.

The starting value could then be around 900 kWh, based on an advertised consumption of just 1.7 kWh per mile, or the equivalent of 105 kWh/100 km. Power that would allow an electric truck to travel up to 800 kilometers without refueling with a load of 37 tons. An incredible figure that PepsiCo has not yet tested, as the paths are actually shorter.

Tesla Semi // Source: Motortrend

But does Semi really deliver on all of its promises in real-world use? Well, judging by his first client, he looks very pleased. Motortrend was able to locate Frito-Lay units consisting of four superchargers, or rather mega-chargers, capable of delivering up to 1 MW, equivalent to 1,000 kW. But what about in real life?

Very fast charging

In fact, the terminals installed by the company currently provide a maximum power of 750kW, which is still well above the 250kW of blowers currently available to the general public. Later, a 350 kW V4 version will also be deployed for electric vehicles, equipped, among other things, with solar panels and a battery capable of storing the energy recovered in this way. By comparison, in China, the local Geely group is working on deploying 600 kW terminals for cars to charge them to the last in 10 minutes.

Tesla Semi // Source: Motortrend

Frito-Lay then explains that it is able to fill a near-depleted battery to 70% (the equivalent of 5 to 80%) in just half an hour, which can then restore 400 miles of autonomy, or about 643 kilometers. The figure most likely corresponds to the US EPA cycle, which is more pessimistic than our European WLTP. It takes a total of 90 minutes to reach 100%. This is much more than the fastest cars, which take about an hour to complete this exercise.

In comparison, the fastest charging EVs currently available (Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5) take 18 minutes to charge 10-80% and about 20-25 minutes to charge 5-80%. They carry a battery 10 times smaller than the Tesla Semi. As for more “classic” electric trucks, Renault is limited to 250kW for 2.5 hours of recharging, similar to Volvo’s output, with about 1 hour to go from 20 to 90% on 376 kWh batteries. In Europe, the first charging network dedicated to trucks is limited to 300 kW.

The level of autonomy, in one of the photos we see a route calculation of 530 km (6h12 drive) between Modesto and Los Angeles. A truck charged to 96% is predicted to arrive at its destination with 4% battery power. However, the system advises you not to exceed 65 mph (104 km/h). The route consists of a 2×2 lane and then a mountain highway arriving in Los Angeles. Do we have a version with a range of 500 km in stock? If not, then the prediction of this route is strange, since Tesla demonstrated 800 km.

Another explanation may come from the route planner. This may not take into account truck speed limits. Indeed, in California they cannot exceed 55 miles per hour (88 km/h), even on highways or expressways. Since they are limited to 70 mph (112 km/h), the difference in range can be explained in this way.

Truck that drives like a car

Motortrend was also able to take a seat on board this semi-trailer to discover a spacious driving position equipped with two large screens that remind us of the Model 3 in particular. They include many of the features found in vehicles in this range. , but not equipped with dedicated software for professionals, such as Rivian offers in its van for Amazon couriers.

According to drivers interviewed during the visit, the Tesla Semi “drives like a car.” And indeed, the driver’s seat is very similar to the Tesla.

Recall that the electric truck has a three-motor traction chain identical to the Tesla Model S Plaid, the total power of which Elon Musk did not disclose. However, we know that it is possible to reduce energy consumption by switching off up to two motors in certain situations, such as when driving on a highway at a constant speed. Prices for the car are currently not publicly disclosed.

Tesla Semi // Source: Motortrend

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