It’s rare that we go a day without reading about a new electric car breakthrough. Audi’s solar powered roofs have been cruising headlines recently. But leave it to Elon Musk to one-up the auto world with a new electric invention:
The electric semi-truck.
Reuters revealed in an exclusive report that Tesla will likely be revealing an electric big-rig truck. This announcement marks the luxury car company’s entrance into the commercial freight industry, expanding their horizons significantly.
In recent years, the United States has taken on the topic of vehicle efficiency and sustainability, a shift that Tesla has very much been a part of. While modern diesel fuel is 25% to 30% more energy rich than gasoline, it’s hard to beat a low-impact electric vehicle. Musk claims that while a diesel semi can travel 1,000 miles on a single tank of fuel, the electric truck will be up to the competition.
Scott Perry, an executive at Miami fleet operator Ryder System, said in a statement to Reuters that he met with Tesla early this year to discuss the new technology. He confirmed that the electric truck will rank on the lower end of long haul trucking, traveling about 200 to 300 miles at a time.
“I’m not going to count them out for having a strategy for longer distances or ranges, but right out of the gate I think that’s where they’ll start,” he told Reuters.
When asked to confirm, Tesla said in an email statement to Reuters, “Tesla’s policy is to always decline to comment on speculation, whether true or untrue, as doing so would be silly. Silly!”
As with any new technology, the electric car is still working through operation details in general. For example, mechanical experts know that temperature makes or breaks machine function. On a smaller scale, hydraulic load cells are refined to operate at temperatures of -60 degrees Celsius. While electric cars do not need to operate under such extreme conditions, they are sensitive to temperature. The electric car effort has also been criticized for not providing enough charging ports for projected demand.
So, will Tesla be up to the challenge of expanding the electric vehicle industry?
According to Rauters, Musk was confident at the Tesla annual meeting in June.
“A lot of people don’t think you can do a heavy-duty, long-range truck that’s electric, but we are confident that this can be done,” he said.
Tesla is not the only company taking on an electric trucking project. Reuters reports that both Daimler and United Parcel Service are both developing short-haul electric trucks. By committing to smaller distances, these manufacturers can build trucks with smaller batteries that can charge overnight. With Daimler beginning production on their first fleet this year, this technology may be closer than we think.