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Jay Leno towed a Tesla Semi with a Tesla Semi

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Tesla Semi Innovation

In a recent episode of “Jay Leno’s Garage,” renowned television host and automobile enthusiast Jay Leno had the opportunity to test drive a Tesla Semi, the innovative electric semi-trailer truck that has been making waves since its unveiling in 2017. Accompanied by Tesla’s design chief, Franz von Holzhausen, and the senior manager of semi-truck engineering, Dan Priestley, Leno delved into the backstory of this groundbreaking project.

The inception of the Tesla Semi project can be attributed to the visionary thinking of then-Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel, who, interestingly, later founded the battery-recycling firm Redwood Materials. Straubel’s motivation stemmed from his belief that using diesel trucks to transport battery packs from Tesla’s Gigafactory in Reno, Nevada, to its vehicle plant in Fremont, California, contradicted the company’s commitment to emission-free transportation. With the support of another Tesla executive with prior experience at the truck manufacturer Freightliner, this idea evolved into a fully-fledged, production-bound venture, as recounted by Priestley.

Although Tesla lacked prior experience in the realm of commercial vehicles, the design of the Semi was influenced by extensive discussions with truck drivers. Notably, the front corners of the Semi were designed for easy repair, as these areas are most susceptible to damage. Moreover, in an effort to enhance accessibility and safety, designers incorporated suicide doors and a central driver’s seat, addressing the primary cause of trucker workers’ compensation claims, which is falling off a truck. The centered driver’s seat also improves visibility, a crucial aspect of long-haul trucking.

Tesla offers two versions of the Semi, boasting ranges of 300 and 500 miles, with remarkable energy efficiency at less than 2 kWh per mile. The truck’s DC fast-charging capability can replenish 70% of its range within just 30 minutes, allowing for efficient and timely deliveries. Impressively, Tesla is employing these electric trucks for battery transportation from Nevada to California, aligning with diesel trucks’ schedules. Additionally, the company touts significant savings of $200,000 over three years solely in fuel costs, rendering the Semi an attractive choice for operators.

Under the hood, a three-motor powertrain ensures the Semi’s ability to maintain highway speeds even when tackling a 5% grade, showcasing its robust performance. It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 20.0 seconds while carrying a maximum gross weight of 82,000 pounds. Without the burden of a trailer, the tractor achieves 0-60 mph in just 5.0 seconds. Although these performance claims weren’t put to the test during Leno’s drive, the real highlight was the Semi’s ability to tow another Semi, resulting in a combined gross weight of approximately 60,000 to 70,000 pounds.

Originally slated for production in 2019, the Tesla Semi encountered delays due to factors such as limited battery cell availability, supply chain challenges, and the prioritization of Model Y production at Tesla’s Texas factory. Nevertheless, Tesla commenced deliveries in December 2022, with Priestley revealing that around 60 to 70 trucks have been built since then. The company plans to gather feedback and make necessary refinements before scaling up production. Notably, Tesla’s Nevada facility is undergoing a substantial $3.6 billion upgrade to support expanded Semi production, emphasizing the company’s commitment to revolutionizing the world of commercial transportation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Tesla Semi Innovation

What is the Tesla Semi?

The Tesla Semi is an all-electric semi-trailer truck developed by Tesla, Inc. It was unveiled in 2017 and is designed to revolutionize the commercial transportation industry with its sustainable and high-performance features.

Who test drove the Tesla Semi on “Jay Leno’s Garage”?

Renowned television host Jay Leno had the privilege of test driving the Tesla Semi. He was joined by Tesla’s design chief, Franz von Holzhausen, and the senior manager of semi-truck engineering, Dan Priestley.

What inspired the creation of the Tesla Semi?

The idea for the Tesla Semi was sparked by then-Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel, who believed that using diesel trucks for battery transport contradicted Tesla’s mission of emissions-free transportation. With support from a former truck industry executive, the concept evolved into a full-fledged project.

What unique design features does the Tesla Semi have?

The Tesla Semi incorporates innovative design elements informed by discussions with truck drivers. Notably, it features easily repairable front corners, suicide doors for improved cab access and safety, and a central driver’s seat to enhance visibility.

What are the key specifications of the Tesla Semi?

Tesla offers two versions of the Semi with ranges of 300 and 500 miles, energy consumption of less than 2 kWh per mile, and rapid DC fast-charging capabilities. It boasts impressive performance, with the ability to maintain highway speeds on steep grades and accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in seconds.

How is Tesla using the Semi in its operations?

Tesla is actively using the Semi for battery transportation from its Gigafactory in Nevada to its vehicle plant in California, aligning with diesel truck schedules. The company also claims significant cost savings over three years in fuel costs, making it an appealing option for operators.

What were the production challenges faced by the Tesla Semi?

Production of the Tesla Semi faced delays due to factors like limited battery cell availability, supply chain issues, and the prioritization of other Tesla vehicle models. However, deliveries began in December 2022, and Tesla plans to gather feedback and make improvements.

What is the future of the Tesla Semi?

Tesla is committed to expanding the production of the Semi, with significant upgrades to its Nevada plant. The Semi represents Tesla’s vision for emission-free, efficient, and high-performance transportation in the commercial sector.

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EcoWarrior88 October 8, 2023 - 1:50 pm

Tesla’s Semi rocks!! we need more eco truckz!

BizOwner123 October 8, 2023 - 4:25 pm

Those savings on fuel costz, im impressed! When can I get one?

GrammarNerd October 8, 2023 - 5:31 pm

Few grammer mistaks but great info!

EVEnthusiast October 8, 2023 - 10:54 pm

giga-factory upgrade, big move by tesla!

TruckFan101 October 9, 2023 - 5:30 am

wow! tesla semi soundz amazin! Leno testin it, cool!


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