August 25th, 2020 by Johnna Crider
A sweet animated video of the Tesla Semi’s drivetrain, from 2018, found its way to me and inspired this piece on the Tesla Semi and how electrifying semi trucks and other large vehicles will help our environment. The video is two years old, but it’s still a fun video to watch especially now that we are much closer to Tesla Semi production.
DPCcars, the YouTube channel that uploaded the video, noted in their caption:
“Semi is the safest, most comfortable truck ever. Four independent motors provide maximum power and acceleration and require the lowest energy cost. The quickest acceleration—from 0-60 mph in 20 seconds, fully loaded. Instant traction control with four independent motors. Quickest up the grades. Enhanced Autopilot helps avoid collisions, a centered driver position provides maximum visibility and control, and a low center of gravity offers rollover protection. Electric energy costs are half those of diesel. With fewer systems to maintain, the Tesla Semi provides $200,000+ in fuel savings and a two-year payback period.”
In the most recent Tesla earnings call (Q2 2020), Elon Musk said that the Tesla Semi would be produced at the new Texas Gigafactory that is rapidly being built.
Also on the earnings call, Zachary Kirkhorn, Tesla’s CFO, said that the production for the Tesla Semi would start next year and that he was “personally very excited about the project.” He added, “I can’t wait.” Tesla does have a few trucks that take part in Tesla deliveries and the company plans to accelerate that, but Kirkhorn wanted to be clear that these first few units are ones that Tesla is not mass producing and that are mostly being used to carry its own freight, mostly between Fremont and Reno. This test route will help Tesla prove that it has very good reliability. “We’re going to prove that. We have very good reliability,” he said. He also noted that Tesla has a lot of “very unique technology that we’re always dreaming about that we will be putting into that Semi. It will be just awesome. Yes.”
Other Heavy-Duty EVs Rockin’ Too
The Tesla Semi isn’t the only electric truck out there. While we anxiously wait for Tesla to release its high-tech Semi for the masses, we can also appreciate the many other heavy-duty electric trucks and buses out there on our roads today.
Daimler, which is well known for its part in Dieselgate, also has its toes on the heavy-duty EV water. Wait, bad pun, but let’s keep going. Daimler owns Freightliner, which produces the eCascadia tractors. Other companies, such as BYD and Volvo have created heavy-duty EV trucks as well. In Volvo’s case, it believes that electromotility is playing a key role in the world’s move toward sustainable transportation.
McKinsey & Company pointed out that when DHL wanted to switch its fleet to electric back in 2013, it had a bit of a hard time finding someone to work with on that. So, DHL did it by itself. The delivery company invested in StreetScooter, a German university startup, to design a fully electric van.
Orange EV, which manufactures fully electric terminal trucks, has clearly pointed out the benefits of switching to emission-free vehicles. Over 15 years, in comparison with a Tier 3 diesel engine that operated at least 6,000 hours per year at 2.5 gallons per hour, the estimated emissions reductions are:
- 25 tons NOx
- 23 tons CO
- 1,200 kg PM
- 2,500 tons CO2
Orange EV also pointed out the details of just how the operation of yard trucks pollute the environment and that, by switching to fully electric, they can eliminate those emissions and improve air quality.
“Given that yard trucks typically operate under 25 mph and often 10-15 mph, diesel trucks may emit far more pollutants than currently estimated. Replacing diesel with 100% electric will eliminate yard truck emissions and improve air quality.”
Proterra, which makes short-, medium-, and long-range electric buses, announced back in 2019 that it will supply its electric powertrains to other companies. BYD, New Flyer, Solaris, and several other electric bus makers see sales month after month as well.
When I first started writing for CleanTechnica, I came in as a Tesla fan (still am!) and really didn’t know much about EVs except for Tesla and the few “Tesla killers” that were often being touted as the doom and gloom of the company. However, I’ve learned a lot about the EV world, and when I attended the Clean Fuels Summit in New Orleans last year, I learned that there are numerous major players in the EV world pushing toward the electrification of public, private, and government fleets. The good news is that we have several heavy-duty electric trucks, buses, and vans on the market right now. They are already cutting emissions. And we can assume that Tesla will raise that to another level when the Semi finally arrives.
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