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Tesla Semi

jhm

Well-Known Member
May 23, 2014
9,683
34,901
Atlanta, GA
Tesla Semi will be an exciting new business. Lots of core competencies come into play.
  • Innovative vehicle design
  • Vehicle autonomy
  • Battery tech and manufacturing
  • Sale, distribution and servicing
  • Swap and Supercharging infrastructure
  • Interfacing with the grid, including electric highways
  • Sustainability
So let's discuss Tesla Semi and trucking here.
 
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whifang

New Member
Jul 25, 2016
4
32
CA
cross post from reddit. by u/hwillis:


For the past year or so I've commented on electric tractor trucks when I see them come up. It has pretty much always been fairly negative for a few simple reasons.

  1. Semi transport isn't actually that big a part of the pie, really. It's disproportionately popular in the US, right? And even so, its only 20% of the transport CO2 pie, and 1/3rd as much as light trucks and cars. It's just not that big a priority.

  2. Semis have an ENORMOUS amount of energy on board. A fully fueled semi can travel anywhere from 1500-2500 miles. 300 gallons of diesel contain 11.29 MWh, and trucks have the most efficient engines on the road aside from electric cars. Diesel engines can be up to 45% efficient- to match conventional range, a 90% (NB: powerpacks alone are barely 90% efficient) electric truck would need 5.6 MWh of power, almost $3 million across 60 powerpacks. Each power pack weighs 3,800 lbs, and is 86" high and 52" wide. Thats 114 tons, and it would fill two trailers. The weight limit on semis is 40 tons, and most states limit them to one trailer. The lifetime cost of a semi is under 2 million. A million dollar truck would increase costs significantly, especially with lost investment opportunity of capital.

  3. Semis are incredibly high mileage. They run across the country, and rack up a million miles in under a decade before the engines get rebuilt- 5x farther than a gas car. How would electric batteries match that lifetime?
Well, turns out I was wrong! Tesla is not only working on a semi, they are working on a semi that will have substantial savings. I believe them, so I took another look at my assumptions. Also two dozen people told me I had to be wrong. ANYWAY BACK TO BASICS

ONE REVISITED: Truck transport is actually less popular in the US than in a lot of other countries. Only 3 countries on this graph use more train transport then we do. Since Tesla has built an SUV, its the next biggest untapped category of road vehicle, before pickups. Its the obvious choice, and the difficulty is the only real excuse for not going after it.

TWO REVISITED: Most obviously, power packs are a really bad comparison point to batteries. They are fixed emplacements. The Model S' battery comprises 16 modules and the frame, armor, cooling, electronics and accessories. Each of those modules is little more than 18650 cells, conductors and some plastic and glue. It's about the lightest you can expect Tesla batteries to get without new chemistry- 25.4 kg/5.3 kWh. 11 MWh of them would weigh 60 tons, not 114. It isn't really fair to count the weight of the armor etc with the battery, as it'll get more efficient at scale and the armor will also be part of the frame. Plus, the electric motor will be more efficient- likely 3x, maybe closer to 4. Hard to say without more information on diesel trucks. So 20 tons, and for the first time my math comes up with a legal battery weight.

Now the biggest mistake I had been making was to assume that the range had to be comparable to a truck. I completely failed to realize that truckers do not drive the full range in a day. In reality, almost all trucks drive less than 800 miles a day, and most trips do not exceed that. The average trip in a truck is only 508 miles. I was surprised to learn that trucks and trains annually move about the same ton-miles. As it turns out, very few expensive things need to move cross country. Finished products are usually close to where they are sold, while raw materials get shipped long distances. An 800 mile electric truck will be quite sufficient to deliver MOST of the things that go on trucks, not just a lot of them. In fact there isn't much of a reason to go over that if a truck can charge overnight while the operator sleeps. Lowering the range to 800 miles gives an 8 ton battery. Jerome Guillen's last tractor truck, the Cascadia, weighs 30 tons. 8 tons is practically none of that, especially since pointed out here the engine weighs ~1.5 tons. Removing all the IC components can take the additional weight to around 5 tons, only a 15% increase. Thats practically nothing. In this case, the electric motor weight is nearly negligible.

The price is a lot more reasonable too. We're down to 1,500 kWh, which at $125/kWh, the estimated price for the Gigafactory's batteries, is only $190,000. Thats enough to buy two new (low-end) tractor trucks, but its a lot less than 6 million. If tesla can manage to do better than 3x through aerodynamics etc, that brings the price down even more. Regardless, its perfectly plausible for them to build a 250-300k truck.

So electricity will cost ~23 cents per mile at $.12/kWh with these numbers, and diesel will cost ~33 cents per mile. This is pretty high, and thats because of my conservative estimate of efficiency. 13 cents would not be an unreasonable guess for the truck, and that would bring the trucks cost down to ~200k- totally buyable. I'm going to stick with the conservative figure for now. I'm also going to use this study to back up my estimated operating costs. At 1 million miles, the savings would be $100,000, making the electric truck competitive with the most expensive trucks over its lifetime. Meanwhile in theoretically possible land, a 750 kWh truck would pay for itself compared to an average truckand save 150k.

The lifetime cost of an average truck is ~1.6 million. At the most optimistic end, 9.4% savings is nothing to sneeze at. I don't think I would call it substantial though, especially since you'd be losing out on money by paying all that extra up front. But I think everyone is right, and autopilot is what Tesla is aiming at. Driver wages and benefits are 40% of operating costs, and 38% of overall costs. That's substantial. I assume it will require legal autopilot driving on the highway.

THREE REVISITED: Semis have very small engines relative to their power. Semi engines run from 300-600 hp (220kw-440kw), which is less than a p85D, with a 17.6x higher capacity. Battery cycle life increases roughly linearly with lowering drain. It's too hard to guess how much longer the batteries would last like this, but its a LOT. I doubt a million miles will be a problem.

TL;DR: Expect the Tesla tractor truck to cost $200,000-$250,000 dollars and have a 500-800 mile range, somewhere around 1 MWh-1.5 MWh.

Edit: Things that don't have a big impact:

  1. Truck drafting. Trucks driving close in a line saves <10% fuel, or 30k over the life of the truck. Certainly worth it, but not a game changer.

  2. Autopilot without legal change. You still need a guy in the truck. You can't really pay him less because of autopilot. At best, you get <10% due to convoys of trucks.

  3. Battery swapping. Battery charging is not the big problem! Charging time sucks, yes, but battery swapping is worse. Its expensive to manage those batteries, and Tesla would have to do it. They really don't want to. Besides, assuming supercharging to top off your range once a day, you save what? An hour a day? Less? Not a huge deal.

  4. Road damage. Electric trucks will not be much heavier overall. They also won't cause less damage. Road damage is a problem between mass, tires, and the road.

  5. Fancy custom trailers. At least, I really doubt it. I may be wrong here as I haven't looked into it, but I think its too radical a change. If people wont pay the money now for skirts, why would they just because the truck is electric?

  6. Short trip trucks. 61% of the money in trucks is in trips <100 miles. At first, that seems great- electric can't do distance. However 80% of the ton-miles are in >100 mile trips, and thats where electric can compete, on gas prices and on automated highway driving. Short trips are more profitable, but making them electric requires a much higher relative up front cost. Its possible tesla will make a lower capacity truck for these trips, but it will have a whole new set of problems- reduced cycle life, needing extra charging time, etc etc. Much harder, and much less pollution to stop here.

  7. Solar Panels. There are ~45 m2 on top of a trailer, about what you might put on a house. The truck uses 45x as much power as a house, though. The very expensive panels would give <5% increase in range.
For the past year or so I've commented on electric tractor trucks when I see them come up. It has pretty much always been fairly negative for a few simple reasons.

  1. Semi transport isn't actually that big a part of the pie, really. It's disproportionately popular in the US, right? And even so, its only 20% of the transport CO2 pie, and 1/3rd as much as light trucks and cars. It's just not that big a priority.

  2. Semis have an ENORMOUS amount of energy on board. A fully fueled semi can travel anywhere from 1500-2500 miles. 300 gallons of diesel contain 11.29 MWh, and trucks have the most efficient engines on the road aside from electric cars. Diesel engines can be up to 45% efficient- to match conventional range, a 90% (NB: powerpacks alone are barely 90% efficient) electric truck would need 5.6 MWh of power, almost $3 million across 60 powerpacks. Each power pack weighs 3,800 lbs, and is 86" high and 52" wide. Thats 114 tons, and it would fill two trailers. The weight limit on semis is 40 tons, and most states limit them to one trailer. The lifetime cost of a semi is under 2 million. A million dollar truck would increase costs significantly, especially with lost investment opportunity of capital.

  3. Semis are incredibly high mileage. They run across the country, and rack up a million miles in under a decade before the engines get rebuilt- 5x farther than a gas car. How would electric batteries match that lifetime?
Well, turns out I was wrong! Tesla is not only working on a semi, they are working on a semi that will have substantial savings. I believe them, so I took another look at my assumptions. Also two dozen people told me I had to be wrong. ANYWAY BACK TO BASICS

ONE REVISITED: Truck transport is actually less popular in the US than in a lot of other countries. Only 3 countries on this graph use more train transport then we do. Since Tesla has built an SUV, its the next biggest untapped category of road vehicle, before pickups. Its the obvious choice, and the difficulty is the only real excuse for not going after it.

TWO REVISITED: Most obviously, power packs are a really bad comparison point to batteries. They are fixed emplacements. The Model S' battery comprises 16 modules and the frame, armor, cooling, electronics and accessories. Each of those modules is little more than 18650 cells, conductors and some plastic and glue. It's about the lightest you can expect Tesla batteries to get without new chemistry- 25.4 kg/5.3 kWh. 11 MWh of them would weigh 60 tons, not 114. It isn't really fair to count the weight of the armor etc with the battery, as it'll get more efficient at scale and the armor will also be part of the frame. Plus, the electric motor will be more efficient- likely 3x, maybe closer to 4. Hard to say without more information on diesel trucks. So 20 tons, and for the first time my math comes up with a legal battery weight.

Now the biggest mistake I had been making was to assume that the range had to be comparable to a truck. I completely failed to realize that truckers do not drive the full range in a day. In reality, almost all trucks drive less than 800 miles a day, and most trips do not exceed that. The average trip in a truck is only 508 miles. I was surprised to learn that trucks and trains annually move about the same ton-miles. As it turns out, very few expensive things need to move cross country. Finished products are usually close to where they are sold, while raw materials get shipped long distances. An 800 mile electric truck will be quite sufficient to deliver MOST of the things that go on trucks, not just a lot of them. In fact there isn't much of a reason to go over that if a truck can charge overnight while the operator sleeps. Lowering the range to 800 miles gives an 8 ton battery. Jerome Guillen's last tractor truck, the Cascadia, weighs 30 tons. 8 tons is practically none of that, especially since pointed out here the engine weighs ~1.5 tons. Removing all the IC components can take the additional weight to around 5 tons, only a 15% increase. Thats practically nothing. In this case, the electric motor weight is nearly negligible.

The price is a lot more reasonable too. We're down to 1,500 kWh, which at $125/kWh, the estimated price for the Gigafactory's batteries, is only $190,000. Thats enough to buy two new (low-end) tractor trucks, but its a lot less than 6 million. If tesla can manage to do better than 3x through aerodynamics etc, that brings the price down even more. Regardless, its perfectly plausible for them to build a 250-300k truck.

So electricity will cost ~23 cents per mile at $.12/kWh with these numbers, and diesel will cost ~33 cents per mile. This is pretty high, and thats because of my conservative estimate of efficiency. 13 cents would not be an unreasonable guess for the truck, and that would bring the trucks cost down to ~200k- totally buyable. I'm going to stick with the conservative figure for now. I'm also going to use this study to back up my estimated operating costs. At 1 million miles, the savings would be $100,000, making the electric truck competitive with the most expensive trucks over its lifetime. Meanwhile in theoretically possible land, a 750 kWh truck would pay for itself compared to an average truckand save 150k.

The lifetime cost of an average truck is ~1.6 million. At the most optimistic end, 9.4% savings is nothing to sneeze at. I don't think I would call it substantial though, especially since you'd be losing out on money by paying all that extra up front. But I think everyone is right, and autopilot is what Tesla is aiming at. Driver wages and benefits are 40% of operating costs, and 38% of overall costs. That's substantial. I assume it will require legal autopilot driving on the highway.

THREE REVISITED: Semis have very small engines relative to their power. Semi engines run from 300-600 hp (220kw-440kw), which is less than a p85D, with a 17.6x higher capacity. Battery cycle life increases roughly linearly with lowering drain. It's too hard to guess how much longer the batteries would last like this, but its a LOT. I doubt a million miles will be a problem.

TL;DR: Expect the Tesla tractor truck to cost $200,000-$250,000 dollars and have a 500-800 mile range, somewhere around 1 MWh-1.5 MWh.

Edit: Things that don't have a big impact:

  1. Truck drafting. Trucks driving close in a line saves <10% fuel, or 30k over the life of the truck. Certainly worth it, but not a game changer.

  2. Autopilot without legal change. You still need a guy in the truck. You can't really pay him less because of autopilot. At best, you get <10% due to convoys of trucks.

  3. Battery swapping. Battery charging is not the big problem! Charging time sucks, yes, but battery swapping is worse. Its expensive to manage those batteries, and Tesla would have to do it. They really don't want to. Besides, assuming supercharging to top off your range once a day, you save what? An hour a day? Less? Not a huge deal.

  4. Road damage. Electric trucks will not be much heavier overall. They also won't cause less damage. Road damage is a problem between mass, tires, and the road.

  5. Fancy custom trailers. At least, I really doubt it. I may be wrong here as I haven't looked into it, but I think its too radical a change. If people wont pay the money now for skirts, why would they just because the truck is electric?

  6. Short trip trucks. 61% of the money in trucks is in trips <100 miles. At first, that seems great- electric can't do distance. However 80% of the ton-miles are in >100 mile trips, and thats where electric can compete, on gas prices and on automated highway driving. Short trips are more profitable, but making them electric requires a much higher relative up front cost. Its possible tesla will make a lower capacity truck for these trips, but it will have a whole new set of problems- reduced cycle life, needing extra charging time, etc etc. Much harder, and much less pollution to stop here.

  7. Solar Panels. There are ~45 m2 on top of a trailer, about what you might put on a house. The truck uses 45x as much power as a house, though. The very expensive panels would give <5% increase in range.

For the past year or so I've commented on electric tractor trucks when I see them come up. It has pretty much always been fairly negative for a few simple reasons.

  1. Semi transport isn't actually that big a part of the pie, really. It's disproportionately popular in the US, right? And even so, its only 20% of the transport CO2 pie, and 1/3rd as much as light trucks and cars. It's just not that big a priority.

  2. Semis have an ENORMOUS amount of energy on board. A fully fueled semi can travel anywhere from 1500-2500 miles. 300 gallons of diesel contain 11.29 MWh, and trucks have the most efficient engines on the road aside from electric cars. Diesel engines can be up to 45% efficient- to match conventional range, a 90% (NB: powerpacks alone are barely 90% efficient) electric truck would need 5.6 MWh of power, almost $3 million across 60 powerpacks. Each power pack weighs 3,800 lbs, and is 86" high and 52" wide. Thats 114 tons, and it would fill two trailers. The weight limit on semis is 40 tons, and most states limit them to one trailer. The lifetime cost of a semi is under 2 million. A million dollar truck would increase costs significantly, especially with lost investment opportunity of capital.

  3. Semis are incredibly high mileage. They run across the country, and rack up a million miles in under a decade before the engines get rebuilt- 5x farther than a gas car. How would electric batteries match that lifetime?
Well, turns out I was wrong! Tesla is not only working on a semi, they are working on a semi that will have substantial savings. I believe them, so I took another look at my assumptions. Also two dozen people told me I had to be wrong. ANYWAY BACK TO BASICS

ONE REVISITED: Truck transport is actually less popular in the US than in a lot of other countries. Only 3 countries on this graph use more train transport then we do. Since Tesla has built an SUV, its the next biggest untapped category of road vehicle, before pickups. Its the obvious choice, and the difficulty is the only real excuse for not going after it.

TWO REVISITED: Most obviously, power packs are a really bad comparison point to batteries. They are fixed emplacements. The Model S' battery comprises 16 modules and the frame, armor, cooling, electronics and accessories. Each of those modules is little more than 18650 cells, conductors and some plastic and glue. It's about the lightest you can expect Tesla batteries to get without new chemistry- 25.4 kg/5.3 kWh. 11 MWh of them would weigh 60 tons, not 114. It isn't really fair to count the weight of the armor etc with the battery, as it'll get more efficient at scale and the armor will also be part of the frame. Plus, the electric motor will be more efficient- likely 3x, maybe closer to 4. Hard to say without more information on diesel trucks. So 20 tons, and for the first time my math comes up with a legal battery weight.

Now the biggest mistake I had been making was to assume that the range had to be comparable to a truck. I completely failed to realize that truckers do not drive the full range in a day. In reality, almost all trucks drive less than 800 miles a day, and most trips do not exceed that. The average trip in a truck is only 508 miles. I was surprised to learn that trucks and trains annually move about the same ton-miles. As it turns out, very few expensive things need to move cross country. Finished products are usually close to where they are sold, while raw materials get shipped long distances. An 800 mile electric truck will be quite sufficient to deliver MOST of the things that go on trucks, not just a lot of them. In fact there isn't much of a reason to go over that if a truck can charge overnight while the operator sleeps. Lowering the range to 800 miles gives an 8 ton battery. Jerome Guillen's last tractor truck, the Cascadia, weighs 30 tons. 8 tons is practically none of that, especially since pointed out here the engine weighs ~1.5 tons. Removing all the IC components can take the additional weight to around 5 tons, only a 15% increase. Thats practically nothing. In this case, the electric motor weight is nearly negligible.

The price is a lot more reasonable too. We're down to 1,500 kWh, which at $125/kWh, the estimated price for the Gigafactory's batteries, is only $190,000. Thats enough to buy two new (low-end) tractor trucks, but its a lot less than 6 million. If tesla can manage to do better than 3x through aerodynamics etc, that brings the price down even more. Regardless, its perfectly plausible for them to build a 250-300k truck.

So electricity will cost ~23 cents per mile at $.12/kWh with these numbers, and diesel will cost ~33 cents per mile. This is pretty high, and thats because of my conservative estimate of efficiency. 13 cents would not be an unreasonable guess for the truck, and that would bring the trucks cost down to ~200k- totally buyable. I'm going to stick with the conservative figure for now. I'm also going to use this study to back up my estimated operating costs. At 1 million miles, the savings would be $100,000, making the electric truck competitive with the most expensive trucks over its lifetime. Meanwhile in theoretically possible land, a 750 kWh truck would pay for itself compared to an average truckand save 150k.

The lifetime cost of an average truck is ~1.6 million. At the most optimistic end, 9.4% savings is nothing to sneeze at. I don't think I would call it substantial though, especially since you'd be losing out on money by paying all that extra up front. But I think everyone is right, and autopilot is what Tesla is aiming at. Driver wages and benefits are 40% of operating costs, and 38% of overall costs. That's substantial. I assume it will require legal autopilot driving on the highway.

THREE REVISITED: Semis have very small engines relative to their power. Semi engines run from 300-600 hp (220kw-440kw), which is less than a p85D, with a 17.6x higher capacity. Battery cycle life increases roughly linearly with lowering drain. It's too hard to guess how much longer the batteries would last like this, but its a LOT. I doubt a million miles will be a problem.

TL;DR: Expect the Tesla tractor truck to cost $200,000-$250,000 dollars and have a 500-800 mile range, somewhere around 1 MWh-1.5 MWh.

Edit: Things that don't have a big impact:

  1. Truck drafting. Trucks driving close in a line saves <10% fuel, or 30k over the life of the truck. Certainly worth it, but not a game changer.

  2. Autopilot without legal change. You still need a guy in the truck. You can't really pay him less because of autopilot. At best, you get <10% due to convoys of trucks.

  3. Battery swapping. Battery charging is not the big problem! Charging time sucks, yes, but battery swapping is worse. Its expensive to manage those batteries, and Tesla would have to do it. They really don't want to. Besides, assuming supercharging to top off your range once a day, you save what? An hour a day? Less? Not a huge deal.

  4. Road damage. Electric trucks will not be much heavier overall. They also won't cause less damage. Road damage is a problem between mass, tires, and the road.

  5. Fancy custom trailers. At least, I really doubt it. I may be wrong here as I haven't looked into it, but I think its too radical a change. If people wont pay the money now for skirts, why would they just because the truck is electric?

  6. Short trip trucks. 61% of the money in trucks is in trips <100 miles. At first, that seems great- electric can't do distance. However 80% of the ton-miles are in >100 mile trips, and thats where electric can compete, on gas prices and on automated highway driving. Short trips are more profitable, but making them electric requires a much higher relative up front cost. Its possible tesla will make a lower capacity truck for these trips, but it will have a whole new set of problems- reduced cycle life, needing extra charging time, etc etc. Much harder, and much less pollution to stop here.

  7. Solar Panels. There are ~45 m2 on top of a trailer, about what you might put on a house. The truck uses 45x as much power as a house, though. The very expensive panels would give <5% increase in range.
 
Mar 4, 2014
453
662
United States
Seems to me there are at least two major markets, each with unique needs:
1) Long haul - here's where the swap/charging infrastructure will need to be developed and aerodynamics are paramount
2) Local delivery - Much lower average speeds negate some of the aerodynamic requirements
3) Others?
 

electracity

Active Member
Jun 8, 2015
4,028
3,458
60606
The cars currently average the equivalent of one battery cycle per week. A road truck would presumably average maybe 15 cycles per week.

Extrapolating current Tesla batteries to OTR semis doesn't work without a major re-think of battery life.
 

elasalle

driVIN(188xx) it !!
Jan 26, 2016
4,626
27,387
VA
Before the Semi, does Tesla plan to do a pickup?
What advantages does a Semi have over trains? Couldn't someone just do electric trains?
 
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jhm

Well-Known Member
May 23, 2014
9,683
34,901
Atlanta, GA
To get the creative juices flowing, we may want to a particular customer that has quite sophisticated logistics. I'm think of Walmart.

Walmart is one of the largest retailers. It operates its own trucking logistics with lots of distribution hubs that connect supplier source and retail centers. It is well known for absolute efficiency in logistics.

Walmart is also very keen on solar. It is one of SolarCity's largest customers. Many stores have solar roofs. They also have Powerpacks with DemandLogic to help the stores avoid peak demand charges as well as making better use of generated solar power and providing back up. When a retail store faces power outages, they are vulnerable to costly shoplifting in the darkness. But demand charges are a very big cost. They can be as high as $20/kW/month for the max power draw in a month over 30 minutes. Defeating demand charges basically pay for the cost of a Powerwall and the rest is gravy.

So imagine adding Tesla Semis to this. The tractors and trailers are continually returning to the hubs. It seems that TE/SolarCity could develop solar, battery and power management systems for the hubs that optimize the economics of powering a fleet tractor-trailers. High power charging from the grid may not be attractive because of costly demand charges. And yet trucks will need to be powered up 24/7 to keep pace with the business. So if solar deployed for this purpose, then batteries must be used to capture this energy through the day. Is it possible that battery swapping could be the most economical solution for Walmart?

While we are contemplating where the batteries go, we might also consider where the solar panels go. Is there a case here for having some panels on the roof of trailers? And how is solar energy captured for usewhen the trailer is not paired up with a tractor? Should batteries be included in solar trailers?

How can vehicle autonomy be exploited even before autonomous trucks are allowed on public roads?

What other innovations be beneficial for Walmart?

If Tesla Semi and Tesla Energy can help Walmart cut their costs, then I'm sure we've got a winner.
 

Fallenone

Active Member
Oct 13, 2015
1,988
3,777
Reno, NV
The cars currently average the equivalent of one battery cycle per week. A road truck would presumably average maybe 15 cycles per week.

Extrapolating current Tesla batteries to OTR semis doesn't work without a major re-think of battery life.
Since I personally think battery swap makes more sense in the semi situation, I imagine instead of SC stations, there would be battery stations along highways that come operational. They can store many battery packs there. Say truck/pack ratio 1:10 or something. The initial cost could be large, by should be offset by fuel cost.
 

roblab

Active Member
Jul 15, 2008
3,711
3,219
Angwin (Napa Valley) CA
Trains are far more efficient than trucks. Trains carry trucks. Train tires don't wear out like truck tires, and the rails can be electrified far easier than making truck batteries. Neither do you need a "driver" for every car on the train. Europe has had trains for decades, and yet somehow, the US thinks trucks are the answer. Long distance is cheapest with trains. Short haul trucks at the rail points make the most sense -- unless you're a truck driver.
 

Ardie

Member
Oct 4, 2009
202
48
Hmmm. Driverless delivery trucks. I'm not too keen on the idea of a driverless Sears truck showing up, and I get an email that my washing machine is here, and the auto-unloader deposits the washing machine on the sidewalk and self-drives away. Or worse, it informs me that the dolly is in the back by the washing machine, and I have 30 minutes to unload it before the driverless truck proceeds to its next stop.

Transport trucks. I can see those. Restocking stores from the central warehouse, or maybe moving the US Mail's junk mail from one processing center to the next. Shuffling Cokes from the plant to all those supermarkets. And maybe, transporting gasoline from the refinery to the gas stations in town (Wouldn't that be a kick? Seeing a Tesla Transport at a Chevron station?)

Finally, for long-haul cargo, I am dreaming that someone will eventually develop the Hyperloop as a cheap way to quickly transport freight from coast to coast without having to depend on drivers or, for that matter, the slowly crumbling Interstate Highway System.
 

RichardL

Member
Supporting Member
Oct 6, 2013
653
625
San Diego, California
One consideration in all these conversations - the 'can we get there from here' issue. While I agree that freight Hyperloops would be great - there is simply no way that the nation would decide to build a comprehensive solution like that. But if there is an electric truck, it can go into usage while all the conventional ICE trucks are still around - so it can be a gradual transition.

The 'last 30ft problem' mentioned above does seem to be a difficult issue for regular deliveries, so the initial usage for autonomous trucks would probably be distribution center to store etc. Perhaps a catapult and an 'autonomous targeting system' aimed at your front window would work :)

Interesting discussion though, thanks to everyone
 

RichardL

Member
Supporting Member
Oct 6, 2013
653
625
San Diego, California
@jhm - you made some very interesting conjectures about using a battery swap while also contributing to load balancing on the grid, in the Short Term thread. Could you pull those out, or repeat them here for completeness? To me, the idea of addressing two problems at the same time, has some merit - although getting both industries to pay their share could be a challenge!
 

electracity

Active Member
Jun 8, 2015
4,028
3,458
60606
Since I personally think battery swap makes more sense in the semi situation, I imagine instead of SC stations, there would be battery stations along highways that come operational. They can store many battery packs there. Say truck/pack ratio 1:10 or something. The initial cost could be large, by should be offset by fuel cost.

Interstate/major highway battery swap points for trucks could be charge points for EV: Reimagined truck stops.

I think for the economics to work there needs to be either 1) Carbon pricing, or 2) One human driver for several trucks. Tesla's lead in lane keeping has to be a major aspect of their business case. Straight up electrification probably doesn't produce a good enough ROI today.
 

andrerodpt

Member
Jul 8, 2016
187
159
Lisbon, Portugal
Recovering a post on another thread I add my 0,02 to the semi argument:

I was wondering if everything goes to plan (and right now it seems inevitable) and we'll be driving in a vast majority of EV in a near future, will there be any oil company in business just for semi-trucks? Is it feasible business wise?
 

Fallenone

Active Member
Oct 13, 2015
1,988
3,777
Reno, NV
Interstate/major highway battery swap points for trucks could be charge points for EV: Reimagined truck stops.

I think for the economics to work there needs to be either 1) Carbon pricing, or 2) One human driver for several trucks. Tesla's lead in lane keeping has to be a major aspect of their business case. Straight up electrification probably doesn't produce a good enough ROI today.
Yes I think it should be a gradual process instead of firing off all truck drivers. The autopilot capability is already good enough for all transportation parts on the highway plus charging/battery swapping - lane keeping+speed adjustment+summon. So the truck drivers can take over a truck at the beginning of the local roads, drive to final destination, load up, drive back to highway. In the meanwhile, another truck may have arrived without a driver in it.
 

jhm

Well-Known Member
May 23, 2014
9,683
34,901
Atlanta, GA
Recovering a post on another thread I add my 0,02 to the semi argument:

I was wondering if everything goes to plan (and right now it seems inevitable) and we'll be driving in a vast majority of EV in a near future, will there be any oil company in business just for semi-trucks? Is it feasible business wise?
This is looking a long way out, maybe 25 or more years, and I'm very bullish on how quickly EVs can ramp up. Looking that far forward, you also have to ask if virtually all semis will have also switched over to electric. I would expect so. However, I also expect a specialty fuel market to persist for a much longer time (like jet fuel and maritime fuels), but the economy of scale could be quite messed up at that point so that consumers that need specialty fuel pay an awful lot for them. If this plays out, then there is still a lot of motive for trucking to go electric.
 

jhm

Well-Known Member
May 23, 2014
9,683
34,901
Atlanta, GA
@jhm - you made some very interesting conjectures about using a battery swap while also contributing to load balancing on the grid, in the Short Term thread. Could you pull those out, or repeat them here for completeness? To me, the idea of addressing two problems at the same time, has some merit - although getting both industries to pay their share could be a challenge!
Yeah, I want to get to that. (I've got a yoga class to teach this evening.) But I thought I would reframe this issue a little differently by focusing in on Walmart as a particular use case. Putting solar up at distribution hubs and expecting that to provide most of the energy for the trucks gets us very close to the issues facing the grid. Moreover, it is an application of distributed energy resources (DERs) which will have a profound impact on the role of the grid going forward. It also showcases how Tesla Energy can work with Tesla Semi. So I'd encourage folks to think through that scenario.

Namaste!
 

andrerodpt

Member
Jul 8, 2016
187
159
Lisbon, Portugal
This is looking a long way out, maybe 25 or more years, and I'm very bullish on how quickly EVs can ramp up. Looking that far forward, you also have to ask if virtually all semis will have also switched over to electric. I would expect so. However, I also expect a specialty fuel market to persist for a much longer time (like jet fuel and maritime fuels), but the economy of scale could be quite messed up at that point so that consumers that need specialty fuel pay an awful lot for them. If this plays out, then there is still a lot of motive for trucking to go electric.

That's why Tesla plans in 10 years for that semi is not that far-fetched as I first though. They what to stay well ahead of the (so far inexistent) competition. And considering the oil prices trend, my bet we'll have a lot less players in the marker in 5 years.
 

Menifeer

Member
Mar 5, 2016
297
1,030
Menifee, CA
Rather than building a tractor, it would be a lot easier and cheaper to make a power pack that would be installed under the trailer bed and power one of its axles. The tractor would continue to be the diesel, but it would be assisted in propulsion and braking by the trailer unit. Since all trailers have essentially the same frame configuration, a one-size-fits all unit could be marketed.

The added available power would help the big rigs keep up with traffic when climbing hills and lots of energy would be recovered when braking.

The Ice Road Truckers could certainly use something like this when trying to climb those hills...
 
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