Worst Tesla Semi is Better Than Best Competing Electric Semi

Tesla has two Semi models. One has 500 miles of range and the other has 300 miles of range.

Elon tweeted that they have energy efficiency of 1.7 kWh per mile. The 500 mile range actually had about 540 miles of range so the battery pack is likely 900 kWh. The 300 mile range version likely has a 510 kWh battery pack.

Freightliner spent 5 years developing the electric eCascadia. The eCascadia has a typical range of 155, 220 or 230 on a full charge, depending on configuration.

The 230 mile eCascadia has a 550 kWh battery pack and 2.2 kWh per mile efficiency. It is 30% less efficient than the Tesla Semi 300 mile range. It needs a bigger battery pack to go 30% less range.

UPDATE: I have a full shopping guide to all of the existing electric trucks.

Tesla 300-mile range battery is about 1000 lbs lighter with 70 miles of greater range than the best eCascadia.

Tesla has had a drivetrain and electric system efficiency advantage for over a decade with electric cars. This is clearly difficult to improve. Most other electric carmakers are still behind the ten-year-old Model S in efficiency. Changing a cab configuration is easy. Adding a sleeper is just adding a bed. Making a drivetrain 30% more efficient and powerful is a lot harder and takes many years.

The Tesla Semi 300 mile is currently reported to be at a price of $150,000 before the tax credit. The price is old and has likely increased. We will see what the new number is early in 2023.

Volvo makes electric semi trucks and also makes diesel semi trucks. Volvos electric cars are 30% less efficient than Tesla cars.

The Energy Innovation organization projects the $40000 discount for electric Semi will enable 38% of the US Semi market to go electric by 2030.

Nikola is taking orders for battery-electric Tre. It offers a top speed of 58km/hr up a 6% grade, and up to 563km driving range from its 753kWh battery. It has about 330-350 miles of range. The Tesla Semi pulled a full load up a 6% grade at over 60 mph (100 km/hr). The Nikola Tre battery is about 3000 lbs heavier and it is much weaker going up hills. The Nikola Tre is priced around $300,000.

Huge California and New York Vouchers for Electric Class 8 and Other Trucks and Buses

The Tesla Semi will also likely qualify for the California subsidies for electric trucks. $150,000 for Class 8 trucks performing drayage operations. $120,000 for Class 8 trucks performing non-drayage operations. California and New York are both offering huge incentives for the first few thousand electric Semi trucks. New York is offering up to $185000 for Class 8 trucks. Requests for the NY subsidies must be submitted by 2024.

42 thoughts on “Worst Tesla Semi is Better Than Best Competing Electric Semi”

  1. “Volvo makes electric semi trucks and also makes diesel semi trucks. Volvos electric cars are 30% less efficient than Tesla cars.”
    First, the semi is a different class then the new Volvo FH electric for the european longhaul transportation market. Second, Volvo truck has not much to do with volvo pass-cars, different developement departments and different R&D locations.

    Considering the delivery delays of the tesla semi I wont trust em the same way with their range and efficiency numbers. Efficiency data is too easy to manipulate and as long as they are shareing such low details (like everyone in the e-truck business) the on-road tests and comparisons will show.

  2. Volvo 540kwh battery 40t = 345 km
    Mercedes 600kwh battery 40t = 500km
    Scania 468kwh battery 40t = 350 km 60t = 250 km

  3. You look at the comments and you look back and think they said the same thing about the first Tesla. Now look where we are at. Almost every auto makers are building electric car. Trying to catch Tesla. The semi will be the same. There are plenty of shuttle run 200 miles out and back drop trailer. Plug in 30 min it ready for the next driver
    this would work that that many over look. And people complain about charging. It seems they never driving a Tesla. Tesla software would route you to a charger you don’t have to look. Tesla have the best charging network out there and they have the best truck network in due time. What people can’t see is you could almost drop a mega pack anywhere and have quite charging. Also the last time I fueled my truck it’s about 20 to 30 min. Unless nobody was there. So a 30 min break to charge is not bad. And you would get at least 25minute of that time as a break. Since you plug in and go get something to eat. Some are so resistant to change. And if you don’t you be left behind.

  4. And yet Pepsi won’t drive more than 100 miles with a full load of soda in a tesla semi.

    I’m guessing those numbers are published by the manufacturers, and I wouldn’t trust Musk as far as I could throw him.

  5. If you expect your food to be delivered in winter temps, call the transport company and make sure to deliver it with a diesel or gas engine. Meaning the transport company needs to have two kinds of trucks, an electric and a non-electric, per route, or you may go hungry for a few months.

    • Do you mean the electric production costs for the ICE vehicle, aka the massive amount of electricity needed to pump, transport, refine, pump and deliver gasoline? Or the EV electricity production costs?

  6. ICE/Hydrogen Fuel Cells, and the Proper infrastructure will get a set of team driver’s, with a 40,000# load (of strawberries) from West Coast to the East Coast days before the same can be said for an EV truck team. Most haulage, and high tonnage is beyond your 300 mile “diaper and doily” survey. Where did that information come from? The problem of the whole situation is three fold: environmental, infrastructural, and tonnage/miles; short or long haul. Massive changes in infrastructure must be made to handle the types of commodities the transportation moves today with ICEs and diesel fuel. Note the time it took to get a decent highway system…if you can call it “decent”.

    • Tesla hasn’t even tried for the long haul market. When they are done talking over the gigantic short haul business maybe they will address the gigantic strawberry coast to Coast needs. In the mean time you hydrogen guys have at it.. Oh wait you don’t have the trucks either? What was your argument?

  7. For my part in the transportation industry, currently my trips are always at least 500-600 miles long. Do the math: long-medium haul, and even multiple stops will take 10-14 hours to complete. If a company is in business to survive, they have to move as many miles/deliveries as the drivers log book allows…11 hours of driving in a 14 hour period. Considering the highways these companies run on, for purpose of efficiency, they are averaging 59-63 mph everytime they are on the highway, hardly less than 10 rolling hours a day. The shift to your assumed survey of an average of lest than 300 miles a day becomes goes to a vehicle for short to short medium haul trucks that would be ideal for the EV use. The drivers are usually hourly paid, have a set delivery pattern, they’ll know where and when to be able to charge their vehicles, and are usually in a motel or home in bed every night and getting a freshly charged vehicle. The long-medium to long haul drivers are sleeping in their trucks, taking delivery time and miles looking for EV infrastructure, and never sure where to get an EV charged without being over crowded by another driver who got to the infrastructure, first. Trucking is so multifaceted, with length of haul, weights, time available, and demand for product
    the of haul, and current lack of infrastructure, that there will have to be a massive restructuring of parking, fueling (EV, Hydrogen, etc.), that will take us into the next century. It took that long just to get the highway systems we have know. To wrap this up, after 2.5 million miles of driving various types of vehicles, most in “Just-In-Time” product/inventory/equipment scenarios, my bet on a fast, easy solution is to move the current ICE vehicles into a hydrogen-fuel cell build, using highly efficient batteries and electric motors. GM and General Electric have been doing it with diesel fuel since the 1930s with locomotives. A switch to a hydrogen ICE will be a cake walk from them, without any loss if tonnage, or time. And in transportation this are the most important factors for everyone.
    If you think you’re going to get a load of strawberries from California using EVs…to the east, Boston/New York go for it. Just make sure your freight insurance policies are paid up. Give me an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) with a Hydrogen Infrastructure, and I’ll show how fast 40,000# of strawberries can move, with a good driver team, short fueling times. Last thought: I’m 80 “years young”, still hauling timed package freight, in double trailers 600 miles a day with a ten hour break…by myself. Good luck with your 300 mile “survey”, and 300-500 mile EVs.

    • Full disclosure; I’ve been driving a Tesla Model S since 2018 and I’m a Tesla shareholder.
      Since the formal delivery of the first Tesla Semis to PepsiCo at the beginning of December, I have read several articles by independent, long haul trucker drivers who believe that the Semi just won’t work for them; there won’t be charging stations, the allowable load will be too small.
      Hell, one driver even complained that there will be no way for him to pay the highway fees because the fees are paid at the diesel pump.
      If PepsiCo has ordered one-hundred Tesla Semis and there are hundreds of deposits from fleet operators like Walmart, Anheusher-Busch, Sysco, DHL, UPS, Ryder, JB Hunt and dozens of other fleet operators around the world, do you really think that a few drivers who one continue paying hundreds for diesel fuel are going to impact Tesla sales?
      The whole idea is to get as many vehicles that are creating the most carbon emissions off the road; not to satisfy the whims of a few independent contractors.
      I’m including a website that lists the corporations that have placed orders for the Semi.

  8. Nothing will ever neat the Diesel and gas powered engines. Haas anyone considered the cost of the new battery packs? And the disposal of these things is terrible. It’s just a novelty. It shall pass

  9. All of these Pro-Musk articles, without even the slightest criticism of him and his companies by Wong… Massive bias that discredits his work.

      • Maybe you should get in a truck and live in it for 6 months under real world scenarios. Books and data can show you multiple outcomes if its loaded multiple ways. But go live it and get back with us. As of this moment: I’m reading articles of multiple charging stations failing due to the extreme cold. Not a good scenario for a semi truck with time sensitive product.

      • I’ve got little patience for online discourse, but against better judgement here I am, tilting valiantly but likely futilely against the windmill of online bs. So here goes.

        Tesla has lost any benefit of the doubt with me. Their cars are poorly built, boring to drive (based on my personal sample size of one), and don’t even deliver the goods when it comes to range. Check out the various Edmunds tests as well as their leaderboard (https://www.edmunds.com/car-news/electric-car-range-and-consumption-epa-vs-edmunds.html#chart) on currently available EV ranges. So far, the Edmunds testing is the most thorough and fair testing I’ve found, and in their experience EVERY SINGLE Tesla has failed to deliver their advertised range, falling I think between about 1% and 18% shorter than advertised.

        By contrast, with two notable exceptions (a Toyota something or other and a Volvo C40 that has contradictory ranges listed) EVERY SINGLE other EV tested beat their advertised, in one instance by damn near 60%.

        So I will treat Tesla’s range claims as an aspirational goal until proven otherwise, and in fact Musk’s other ventures are following in Tesla’s footsteps. Soin an industry where predictable range, turn around time and payload capacity are key, I doubt the Tesla semi will be more than a flash in the pan.

      • The article assumes a lot of things that are not very clear. It’s clearly an article written by a Tesla fan (nothing wrong with that if it’s kept accurate). It’s just another article in a list of others trying to make a case pro Tesla semi at all costs.
        Tesla has a very compelling product but I doubt long range for electric trucks will be a thing in the coming years – long range is not really long, charging times are a nightmare.
        Daimler and others seems to be focusing their efforts in shorter trips – it’s just silly to have a product to cover a lot of market types when production and sales across the market types will be very small.
        Tesla announced range is in most cases exaggerated, if Tesla semi can really fulfill the range they’ve promised, why keep such a big secret around it?! Why is Pepsi moving a big battery around to make short trips? How is reliability? What’s the price of the semi?

    • Just an apples to apples comparison of vehicles. If you’d like an apples to apples comparison of companies or CEOs that’d be a different article.

  10. The amount of electricity needed to charge a Tesla Semi is equivalent to (30) homes with electric ovens on at 500 deg’s for 30 hrs..and all to go 500 miles.

    The world isn’t equipped to produce or supply that much electricity. Hydrogen Fuel cells or another form of renewables is needed or we could also stick with fossil fuels but just plant more trees to combat the C02.

    • Hydrogen is many times more flammable than other petroleum gases, so much so that workers at missile launch sites used straw brooms to detect fires fueled by hydrogen.
      The flames are invisible, how will this condition be handled?

    • Hydrogen is a dead end because of the losses and the danger. If you produce it from electricity, you lose 2/3 or more in the processes. Why would you do that when you can use the electricity more directly with a minimal loss?

      If you produce hydrogen from fossile fuel, you also lose energy and would be better off using the fossile fuel directly.

      Hydrogen is the smallest molecule and easily leaks through seals and pipes that hold everything else. It is odorless and extremely explosive. Nobody in their right mind would drive or live with that nearby.
      There is a reason it was abandoned after the Hindenburg – why line up for more Hindenburgs?

      • The zeppelins used helium. The Hindenburg was supposed to use helium but the Germans couldn’t get their hands on any in time for the flight so they used hydrogen instead.

    • Just find a way to get hydrogen cheaply (hint: it takes more energy to get it from water than what fuel cells produce). Then find a safe way to store and distribute it. Solar and wind are relatively ‘free’ and fission/fission are making inroads. Expanding our electrical grid is possible

  11. I would love to see Walmart resurrect it’s microturbine hybrid semi and see if it can compete with all electric vehicles using 2022 tech instead of 2014 tech. I got to see it in person and it was very impressive, but it obviously stayed a prototype

  12. This Brian Wang guy is a shill for Tesla. He has written 5 or six articles about how great it is without ever mentioning the downsides.

  13. These trucks can’t go 1500+ miles on a “tank” like regular trucks that only cost $100k.thats with an 8min. Fill up of fuel.you people are deluded that this is a competitor to that.oh, they also already have a sleeper.
    Engines win everytime in actual long distance usage even in cars but your too brainwashed to see it.

    • What percentage of semi trips are over 300 miles? I hear it’s quite low… And those under 300 tend to be between warehouses where the truck is being un-/loaded for at least an hour… So why can’t they charge during that time?

      • For what it’s worth, every trip make is 350+ miles, and they’re all “drop and hook,” so I am never at a place more than 15 minutes.

      • Warehouses typically don’t have room to add charging ports to charge nor do they have room for the semis to unhook from trailer and park there to charge up plus there’s usually always other trucks crowded in the area waiting for a dock to back into leaving no room for anything else. Where do the majority of small ev vehicles charge at? Probably there own home most of the time and that’s a drop in a bucket to what a semi needs to charge up.

    • You guys are moronic. Tesla is working on the bajillion dollar short haul industry. Hadn’t ever even suggested long haul competition as far as I know. I love how all of your points are not relevant to the Tesla semi. On the bright side, your full times are going to get shorter because you won’t have to wait for the short haul trucks to fuel anymore as they are buying up Tesla’s as fast as they can

    • That’s just the tryout incentive. Once they realize what is on offer there’ll be no going back. New electric car owner here.

  14. The most likely scenario of course is that like in the small EV market, once the competition will realize what the benchmark is, they will match it. The technological Gap is not that big.

    • And truck is not iphone. Companies tend to be rational, typical individuals tend to be emotional. So we cannot use marketing tricks to lure companies to buy expensive product just to signal their “status” or something like that.

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