Thursday, April 22, 2021

Car FYI's 2021 Electrified Haulers Showcase: Tesla Semi

Photo Credit: Tesla Inc.


Having already achieved fame for inspiring the modern fully electric vehicle renaissance this century with passenger cars, Tesla Motors has set sights on converting their success into the commercial vehicle industry. First introduced in 2017, the Tesla Semi’s bold design and ingenuity makes the truck more than just a fully electrified transporter.  

Being offered in versions with a range of 475 kilometers or 800 kilometers, the Tesla Semi boasts the credentials for being a one of the smartest, safest and comfortable Class 8 commercial trucks on the road. With the four electric motors mounted at the two rear axles of the vehicle, the Semi’s lack of the traditional engine compartment ahead of the driver helped Tesla conceive a front design resembling a cab over truck layout or a modern passenger train. With a 0.36 drag coefficient, the battery electric hauler’s unique shape is aided by an imaginative cabin layout. 


Photo Credit: Tesla Inc.



Placing the truck operator in a centralized driving position inside the Semi offers a number of advantages according to Tesla. Better visibility and improved rollover protection as well as better weight balance is said to be achieved with the centered driver compartment. Providing the driver with a full array of surround view cameras for safe maneuvering, the Tesla Semi truck also comes equipped with active safety features such as automatic braking. Tesla’s Autopilot allowing for supervised computer-controlled driving is also offered on the electric transport truck. 

As typical with Tesla products prior to production, the industry-disrupting company has been tight-lipped on many specific technical details of the Semi truck. No official numbers of output from the electric motors or capacity of the battery packs has been released of as April 2021. Some rather exciting news about the type of batteries being developed for the Tesla Semi was announced last year. Tesla’s cobalt-free 4680 battery cell featuring a tabless design utilizes silicon anodes. Along with touting a higher energy storage potential, the new battery assembly is less expensive to produce.

The Tesla Semi truck is set to become the first large electric transporter to have a prominent presence on North American roads thanks to the environmental sustainability goals being set in motion by major companies. In Canada, grocery store giant Loblaw Companies Limited made an immediate commitment to the battery electric transport truck announcing plans to acquire 25 vehicles a day after the Elon Musk-hosted press conference revealed the Semi to the world. Tesla’s commercial hauler also secured two massive orders from Walmart Canada and Pride Group Enterprises.


Photo Credit: Tesla Inc.



Walmart Canada originally planning to acquire just 10 Tesla Semis in 2018 but upped their order to 40 trucks the following year. In late September of 2020, the giant discount store chain again increased their reservation to 130 Tesla Semi tractors as part of a more aggressive investment into an environmentally-friendly vision. Walmart Canada will have 20 percent of their total vehicle fleet being electric powered by 2022 with longer term goals for a fully alternative power fleet by 2028.

A Mississauga-based company founded in 2010 by Indian immigrant brothers, Pride Group Enterprises has grown to become a serious player in the trucking industry in sales, rental, leasing as well as logistics across Canada and the United States. Pride Group Enterprises announced in November of last year that they plan to incorporate at least 150 Tesla Semi tractor units into their fleet. Depending on market conditions, the trucking conglomerate has an option to purchase up to 500 examples of the electrified hauler.

Smaller orders for the Tesla Semi have also been rolling onto the battery electric vehicle maker from Canadian entities. Announced in early April, Mosaic Forest Management will trial a fleet of three vehicles for use in the logging sector.

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