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Tesla Semi With Updated Design Spotted in Sacramento, California Ahead Of Volume Production

Tesla’s all-electric truck, the Semi, was spotted in Sacramento, California. A trailer was transporting the Semi, possibly to Reno, Nevada, where the Gigafactory is situated. From the images, it is evident that Tesla has made some changes to the electric truck. Tesla will launch the Semi this year.

Tesla Semi

The images made it to Twitter via Tesla owner The Kilowatts. He spotted the trailer transporting the Semi and uploaded the images on the social media site.

Changes In The Design

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According to the tweet, there are reports of a number of small changes to the initial design of the Semi. Tesla has tested the Semi on the road since its first introduction in 2017. You can see these changes clearly in the following sets of images.

As one can spot through these images, there are a number of small differences. The Semi now sports smoky headlights. It gives the truck a sleek look along with the white colour. The windows of the new design also extend further into the side of the truck. Tesla has also replaced the Model 3-style door handles in this design.

The changes also extend towards the rear part of the vehicle. The tail lamp gets a new design, which looks better. There is also a more streamlined equipment set-up immediately behind the cabin.

Tesla Semi – Specs, Features and Figures

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Tesla revealed the Semi in 2017 as their first-ever all-electric truck. The truck is Tesla’s entry into the trucking industry, which attract most sales in the USA along with pick-up trucks. The four prototypes unveiled at the time are spotted on the roads from time to time, carrying out real-world testing. The data collected from this testing has often helped Tesla understand the areas where it could make improvements.

The Semi is a Class-8 truck with a load capacity of 80,000-lb (35.7 tons). Tesla calls it the safest and most comfortable truck to date. Four independent motors on the rear axles provide maximum power and acceleration and it requires the lowest energy cost per mile (<2kWh/mile). While fully loaded, it can accelerate from 0-60 mph (96.5 kph) in 20 seconds, owing to an aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.36.

There will be two variants available in the Semi, with expected ranges of 300 miles (483 km) and 500 miles (805 km). Tesla also claims that it will be the quickest truck up the grades, with a speed of 60 mph achieved on a 5% grade.

Of course, being a Tesla, it will contain the Enhanced Autopilot system, which will help avoid collisions. The centrally positioned driver seat allows for maximum visibility and control. Tesla has also mentioned that a low center of gravity of the truck ensures high rollover protection.

Finally, Tesla has priced the Semi at a base price of $150,000 for the 300-mile variant and $180,000 for the 500-mile variant. According to the automaker, considering the difference in the costs of electricity and diesel, owners of the electric truck will end up saving more than $200,000 in fuel costs.

Recent Updates Regarding The Semi

Tesla had initially scheduled the launch of the Semi for 2019, but after some delays, it was pushed to late 2020. This timeline got pushed to 2021. The volume production of the Semi will take place at Gigafactory Nevada, and the truck will most probably contain 2170 cells, although this hasn’t been confirmed yet.

In late December, there were reports that Tesla is producing four new Semi prototypes at the Gigafactory Nevada. All of these prototypes will contain updated high-density “2170L” cells. Tesla will use two of these prototypes for road testing, while one will be used for durability testing. Tesla will send the fourth one to Alaska for cold-weather testing.

A number of Semi-related job openings were put up on the company’s website recently. As the truck moves closer to volume production, a number of new features are visible. The electric truck will most likely feature a 10-camera setup rather than the original 26.

The 500-mile variant might end up having a higher range than expected. Elon Musk himself commented that he expects the range to be closer to 600 miles (965 km). The company’s website still shows 500 miles as the range for higher-end variant, though.

The Semi might also feature the newly-unveiled 4680 cells in its battery pack. Just last week, Musk mentioned that Tesla is ready for volume production of the Semi, but the shortage of cells has halted their progress. Musk mentioned this during the Q4 Earnings Call last Wednesday.

Our Opinion

Bill Gates had said last September in one of his articles, that electric trucks are bound to fail unless energy-rich and lightweight battery packs are manufactured. According to him, since trucks require higher power, they will need more energy, which will result in heavier battery packs and hence a higher power requirement again. It is a vicious loop, which only lightweight, but energy-dense cells can solve.

Tesla’s recent battery structure is designed to tackle a similar problem. The 4680 cells are much more energy-dense and power-rich. But that is not all. Tesla is looking to change the fundamental design of the battery pack. By having the cells integrated within the design of the vehicle, they can save space and weight, instead of having the battery as a dead weight.

If Tesla is able to crack the code for electric trucks, it will be a significant achievement for the company. They have already predicted a lot of sales of the Semi by 2025, considering that the trucking industry is huge in the United States. If the Semi is a success, they can also expand their base, adding trucks from different classes to their lineup, and bring the electrification revolution to the trucking industry too.

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Mihir Tasgaonkar
A mechanical engineer who loves reading and writing about new technologies in the automobile industry.

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