Tesla unveils semi truck, super car

The Tesla Semi: pending competition for everyone from traditional truck makers to the likes of NZX-listed Eroad and Tesla co-founder Ian Wright's Wrightspeed
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Tesla founder Elon Musk unveiled his company's long-anticipated electric semi-truck overnight, in front of a crowd of 2000 (watch the event at here or a nine-minute supercut at The Verge).

The Tesla Semi is due for release at the end of 2019, though bear in mind Musk is not exactly known for his punctuality). No price was given at last night's event, but Telsa says the Semi will deliver $200,000 in fuel and other savings over a two-year period, which it claims will give it the industry's lowest cost of ownership.It will come in two models, one with a 300-mile (383km) range, one with 500-mile (805km) range — or more if a group of  Semi's maximise their already low drag coefficient by driving (or self-driving) in a convoy.

The Semi's maximum towing capacity is 80,000 pounds (36,000kg or just over 36 tonnes), and it's semi-autonomous.

And even though the price has yet to be disclosed, Canadian grocery chain Loblaw ordered 25, paying a $US5000 deposit for each. Walmart says it will run a trial.

Tesla shares jumped nearly a percent, helping to peg back recent losses.

The move toward self-driving trucks has gained huge momentum in the US. Rival consortiums include Google and Uber. The thinking is driverless trucks could arrive before driverless taxis or consumer vehicles because there is no emotional factor with trucking companies; they'll switch as soon as it makes sense. All of the rival groups see trucks operating in full autonomous mode on highways between cities, with human drivers taking over -- likely by remote control screens -- for trickier finishing through city streets. The New York Times has a great backgrounder here. On the face of things, it does seem like grim long-term prospects for companies like the NZX-listed Eroad or Selwyn Pellett's Cortex that add telematics smarts to existing trucks.

It's also notable that the Tesla Semi will put Tesla in a degree of competition with its Kiwi co-founder Ian Wright, whose startup Wrightspeed is developing electric drive trains for heavy duty vehicles (scroll down for video).

Tesla says its electric truck, the Semi (pictured above and below) will be able to tow a 36,000kg trailer, and have a range of around 800km per charge. It also bills it as the world's most comfortable truck — though semi-autonomous features mean there might not always be a human in the cabin to enjoy it in years ahead. Full Semi tech specs here.

Musk also surprised by previewing a new super car, the Tesla Roadster, which will sell for a minimum of $US200,000, have a top speed of "more than 240 miles per hour" (403km/h) and a range of up to 602 miles (969km).

Tesla bills it as the world's fastest production cars. It will also be no slouch on the acceleration front, going from 0 to 100km in 1.9 seconds (see full tech specs here).

The Roader (pictured below) will be released in 2020.

It costs $US50,000 to reserve a place as one of the first 1000 in the queue for a "founders' series" Roadster (which gets added to your tab for a total of $US250,000).

Production delays
The Semi and the Roader add to Tesla's to-do list at time when the electric vehicle maker is already struggling to ramp up production.

When its affordable ($US35,000) Model 3 started in July at Tesla’s plant in California Musk said he hoped to increase output to 20,000 vehicles a month by December.

But Tesla had assembled just 260 by the end of September. Hundreds of staff got their marching orders after what seemed to be a very front-round of performance reviews (Tesla has around 33,000 staff total).

In a letter to shareholders two weeks ago, Musk said he hoped to lift production to 5000 a week early next year.

Still, New Zealanders who order a Model 3 should bear in mind that deliveries of the right-hand drive version won't even begin until 2019 (assuming Tesla sticks to its schedule).

Related video (June, 2017): Susan Wood talks to Wrightspeed founder and Tesla co-founder Ian Wright.

Local service centre close
On the home front, Tesla says its first New Zealand service centre, will now be open before the end of the year (the original target was mid-year). It'll be located off Auckland's Karangahape Road, on the site of the old Telecom HQ and feature Tesla's solar tiles and home batteries as well as vehicles. Meantime, Tesla's car-only pop-up store has moved from Ponsonby to a new temporary location at 120 Great North Road (if you're familiar with that auto-strip, it's just down from Giltrap Porsche, on the site formerly occupied by Lamborghini. For those in the cheap seats, it's beside the McDonalds).


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41 Comments & Questions

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WOW looking forward just keep the prices down. Longing to buy one

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The Roadster looks like something pretty special - price and performance will have given a few of the supercar manufacturers notice that they need to do a bit more in the next few years.

Now just need to win Lotto this weekend and I’ll be able to put a reservation in!

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Im selling my GeoOp shares to buy one!

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Why on earth would you have those shares.....Gift from family estate?

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Let's stay on topic, kids.

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Wonder boy can't even deliver his affordable cars.

All too good to be true...

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If you've ever driven Tesla P100 you'll know they are the future today, and accelerate like nothing else. So if it takes an extra year or two they will be worth waiting for.

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Great acceleration in drive
Is irrelevant acceleration the new green criteria?
my hilux has a range of 700km + refills in 3 minutes
Pirius is most un-recyclable car

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If they modify the Model S down to only 2-3 times as fast as your Hilux they can get 1000km out of it:
https://www.topgear.com/car-news/electric/tesla-model-s-drove-more-1000k...

Bilstering acceleration and 450km out of a charge isn't too bad, and the ability to stretch range by balancing it with performance suggests some pretty good potential.

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Love all the blind naivety
Too good to be true.......
Explains global personality election outcomes

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How many of those made it to be peoples cars?

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Love the blind and deliberate ignoring of actual facts.

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Yah - buy buy
No need to sniff if its too good to be true
I'll ride an un registered e bike at speed on footpaths in support

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I love stories like this. To me the future looks exciting, despite what the negative brigade like Puff, and co have to say. The internal combustion engine has had it's day. Time to move on with new technology.

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Not to far away ice vehicles will be absolutely old dinosaurs, they will only be good for retaining walls,good luck trying to sell a very expensive one, id be very careful about buying one, you would never be able to get rid of it, its starting to happen now,people I know are waiting for electric vehicles to get better and are holding of from buying, electric is the only way to go.

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My takeaway was that the semi had a very low drag coefficient, similar to a sports car, which was made possible by having a pointed nose with only the driver in the front.
This makes the economics much better than the competition and possibly even better than diesel trucks.
It also explains why Tesla went for highway trucks where high speed and low air resistance gives the biggest economic payback.

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They also said there could be even lower drag co-efficient if Tesla Semis travel together in convoys (and the semi-autonomous tech lends itself to them tailgating).

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If they were tailgating the trucks could do what ducks do and take turns at the front so the lead truck doesn't run out of battery power before the other tailgating trucks. But that would mean the driver could be at the back of the queue. Oh well..
On the self driving front I have read that Tesla have finally been able to get their software right. Apparently the computer in the car wasn't powerful enough so they had to shrink their code to fit, which means that it will only be as good as a human according to Elon, not better than a human, with the current computer hardware.
I think everyone is moving to High Performance Computing(HPC) hardware designed for AI rather than using power hungry repurposed GPU's as in the current Tesla's.

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What driver? Tesla already has the tech to do away with drivers.

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Yes but the problem is getting the tech to handle all the corner cases. A human can quickly discern the difference between a drunk person lying on the road and say a branch but the computer has to be taught the difference which takes sophisticated software, huge amounts of example data and very powerful computers to process everything in the milliseconds required.
A car computer wont make a silly give way mistake at an intersection but it may have difficulty deciding what to do with an accident scenario it has never seen before. It may still be safer than a human though because most accidents are made by fallible humans making common predictable silly mistakes .
Faster computers in cars will give the software more time to run through more algorithms so it can make better accident avoiding decisions in those corner cases that most people would never encounter.

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Would seem to me interstate trucking has the most potential for autonomous trucking too. Many have been predicting autonomous trucking before autonomous passenger cars.

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Before the regulators allow driverless cars/trucks Tesla will have to prove how safe their technology is. They will do this by running the vehicle software n shadow mode. In any potential accident Tesla will be able to show the regulators whether the driverless software would have performed better than the actual human did.
I am not sure whether the driverless truck technology, due to mostly highway driving, would perform better than driverless cars. The statistics will show this.
If the technology is still not good enough they can wait for better sensors, like infra red cameras that detect body heat and see in dark, which could assist the computer to make better decisions and so make for safer driving.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autonomous-adasky/israeli-start-up-bu...

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It's not simply a matter of better sensers. The AI required gets better as it's trained over more and more data. That's why AI can now read x-rays better than radiologists, as they've trained in pattern recognition over far more x-rays than any single radiologist.

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Once Tesla has a more powerful car computer that can process all that extra sample data then it will have a better self driving car. The infra red camera could help speed up the processing time because it can eliminate objects that don't emit body heat as the car doesn't need to concern itself so much with objects that aren't pedestrians.

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The pointed nose would help but I assume it's the fact the nose is smooth, rather than needing holes for cooling, that reduces the drag. Otherwise existing truck companies would have changed.

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Book: "No device can generate energy in excess of the total energy put into constructing it".
https://the-fifth-law.com/pages/press-release

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I think the truck's design is certainly going to electrify opinion. And that new roadster is going to spark a lot of interest too. But both could fall as flat as a battery if he can't build them on time. It's widely known he's having real trouble keeping up with current demand as it is.

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Well the model-X was late to ramp up but has turned out to be a big success.
A lot of people are shorting Tesla stock and hoping it will fail but they have been doing this for years now and have been consistently losing money as Tesla's stock price has kept on rising.

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It looks to me like he has fallen into the trap of now being in the business of building mostly prototypes, since with his pre-order business model that's where there incentives are aligned for now to keep the revenue flowing. Has he actually built a profitable vehicle yet (removing government subsidies)?

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Future puffery for the naive + share price
Lots countries burn oil for electricity so very funny
Agree - its all tulip time. Its over 100 years old as an idea - New York city had e cabs in 1900
Guilt generated greenie tax incentives

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Tesla investor since 2012, so I am naturally optimist about the company.

The new roadster will be a game changer. Porsche and Ferrari's flagship models have incorporated electric engines, ie they're jumping on board which is great. But what will happen to these premium performance based brands when the Tesla Roadster is cheaper and can perform better? Are you then just going to buy a Porsche or Ferrari for the badge? Sure some people do, but there is a larger group of people who buy these cars for the balls they have.

The electric trucks are great - I wish they started with Ambulances, Fire trucks and/or buses first as proof of concept then moved to Commercial trucking - IMO it would have made adoption an easier decision and bought them more time to build up capacity for commercial trucking production.

One issue that I hope the ComCom eventually looks into is the financial relationships between fuel and trucking companies as I believe the relationship could be an obstacle for current trucking companies to move to electric.

A hypothetical example being: If Fuel company A are providing Trucking company X with fuel at a price half that of retail pricing, it encourages Trucking company X to keep using ICE Trucks vs Electric. By moving to electric it would throw their entire value chain out of whack and force them to substantially restructure the way they do business. Furthermore, fluctuations in fuel pricing (based on retail) AFAIK are passed onto supply chain clients, even though the trucking company may have a forward contract agreement with the supplier. Hypothetically speaking - at the same time trucking companies could allocate other companies the use of their account discount in order increase the amount of fuel and thus contract amount with the fuel supplier - more turnover = more negotiating room in the discount given. [for more information refer to financial statement analysis and asking around].

With more giga factories to be opened in the EU coupled with EU's embrace of electric technology and geography I think TSLA trucking will gain more traction there than in the US, at-least in the short-term.

When it comes to TSLA, it is the investment of the century. It will outlast google and any other tech company by shear value of net tangible assets vs intangibles.

How do you think we are going to power things in space? Solar and Batteries. The way musk has put this company together along with his other investments was as cunning as a fox who's just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University. Thank you Elon.

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Wow! A roadster with a top speed of 240kph. Can't wait to drive this to Ngatea during summer to pick blueberries.

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250+ miles, not km so 400km/h or Auckland to Wellington in 2 hours.

Can't wait to see its Nuremberg time - will it be able to corner?

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Yeah, I stand corrected: it's 400kph; a Honda -R does 240kph . So, hypothetically, at 400kph, once I've got my bucketful of blueberries and bought the bespoke ice cream I could still be licking on it if I got a clear run on the motorway back home.
Btw, it's 'Nürburgring' where the testing track is. "Nuremburg" is where the Nazis got their comeuppance

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,and had some of their 100.000 plus rally's in the thirties. You need to excuse Anon. He's a bit of a know-all. But a lot of the time his vanity gets in the ways of facts.

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Musk says the top speed will be "more than 250mph" so more than 400kmph.

Also: having recently driven a Telsa X, I can tell you that switching it to Ludicrous mode decimates battery life (and, in fact, anything other than driving like a nana reduces the rated range). So maybe make sure those blueberries are close by.

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The Tesla S doesn't have a time at Nurburgring as after about 3 minutes (of the approx 8 minute lap time), it had to reduce performance, presumably to stop the battery overheating. That is fine for a Super Salon or GT car but not for a Hyper car.

It will be interesting to see how the Roadster handles and whether it can put in a decent 15 minutes blast at a track day. Otherwise the performance is just hypothetical as it cant be used on the road.

At this stage Porsche and Ferrari will be concerned but still optimistic that they will be have a decent competitor by the time this is public.

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I am a big Tesla fan...but there is one simple reason for me that ensures it us unlikely to fully replace a petrol burner...and that is the sound. People are emotive beings. We like to use all of our senses and for many petrol heads...that includes noise!

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Trouble with noise, you end up getting tinnitus, and then you can't hear the sound probably any way.

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Agree. Sound is one of the 5 senses and that experience is missing with electric. The fact that some sport cars (including European marques and American muscle) pump in fact sound for the driving experience prove this is a factor.

Acceleration sensation is also important but you cant experience that to its fullest on the road.

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Wrightspeed trucks are focused on short haul, many starts and stops - like garbage trucks and buses. This is quite a different market.

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