Tesla Semi

The announcement by Elon Musk of his proposed electric semi-truck and new roadster almost broke the internet last week.

Perhaps missed in the hype, cheering and very loud music accompanying a very, very, very fast red car, was a small, but potentially profound announcement about the truck “mega-chargers” and the flat-priced provision for charging these trucks.

Innovations in this sector are highly focussed on the elephant in the room.  Running costs. The famous UPS “don’t turn left” innovation saves millions, but Musk’s numbers look like he might genuinely change the face of the industry and address some of the drivers of climate change at the same time.

This is potentially the single biggest disruption in the transport and logistics industry; ridiculously cheaper, fixed cost “fuel”. This truck is a “day-tripper”, with no sleeping/overnight cabin.

Musk suggests a flat-price of electricity at the mega-chargers of 7 cents Kwh. Powered by their own solar photovoltaics.

Tesla Megacharger
[Tesla Megacharger -Source: Mashable.com]

Fixed running cost [almost]

He detailed that at 7 cents per kilowatt-hour, assuming a diesel fuel price of US$2.50 per gallon, coupled with insurance and maintenance costs, a Tesla Semi driven at 60 miles per hour with an full load on a 100-mile route would cost about $1.26 a mile to operate, compared to $1.51 per mile for a diesel truck.

Design

The truck’s drag coefficient is 0.36, which is actually less than the 0.38 coefficient of the Bugatti Chiron, one of the world’s fastest sports car. A diesel truck, by comparison, has a coefficient of between 0.65 and 0.7. [Think of a brick versus a bullet]

Platooning [ Investment multiplier]

As mentioned in presentations and on my WhaleSongServices blog, “platooning” will [and is] already changing the face of transport planning.  Musk said that Tesla Semis will be capable of platooning, and in that configuration a diesel truck will be twice as expensive. The ability to digitally link trucks together for greater efficiency makes it

“not just economic suicide to use one diesel truck; it’s economic suicide for rail”

– Elon Musk

He might just be right.

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