Tesla unveils electric, 500 mile-range semi truck

tesla semi truck image
© Tesla

If this thing does what Elon says it does, oil companies should be very nervous.

2017 has been strange in so many ways, it didn't even occur to me as odd that people around the world were willing to wait up late into the night to watch the unveiling of a semi truck. But the Tesla Semi is no ordinary truck. Here's just some of what Elon promised last night:

—500 miles of range
—0-60 in 5 seconds (20 seconds when fully loaded)
—30 minutes for 400 miles of charge
—20% cheaper than diesel with one truck
—50% cheaper with 3 in convoy (Musk claims it will actually be cheaper to operate than rail, when driven in convoy)
—Advanced autopilot as standard
—Capable of doing 60mph up a 5% grade
—A global network of solar- and battery-powered megachargers with (where allowed) a guaranteed electricity price of 7 cents per kilowatt-hour

These are lofty, lofty promises. I certainly had been expecting a 200 or so mile range more suitable for local routes, not a full distance road warrior. (Indeed, Greentech Media says it's the toughest thing Musk has attempted.) And I'm sure Lloyd will have plenty to say about Elon promising to out-compete rail. But if Tesla really can start delivering these in 2019—with the performance they claim—then this should send shivers down the spine of the oil industry.

With their Model 3 that everyone will want (assuming they can start delivering it!), their futuristic and much more pleasant alternatives to gas stations, and now this, Tesla has certainly changed people's expectations about what the future should look like.

Oh, and Elon also delivered a surprise last night: An updated version of the original roadster. Boasting a top speed of 250 mph, and a 620 mile range, this is one of those cars that many people will want and nobody really needs. But Elon's reasoning for making it isn't entirely stupid. He describes it as a "hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars.” Additionally, he goes on to say that it will make driving a gas car like driving “a steam engine with a side of quiche.”

I sure hope he's right. And I also hope we'll have a future with far fewer semis and far fewer supercars on far fewer roads. Ironically enough, I think developments like the Tesla Semi and the Roadster 2 could help us to get there, as long as we keep pushing on greener, more walkable cities and localized supply chains too.

Here's a helpful 9 minute supercut of the launch event produced by The Verge:

Related Content on Treehugger.com