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Tesla Semi

jhm

Well-Known Member
May 23, 2014
10,048
38,912
Atlanta, GA
IMG_20190402_184543.jpg


This is not one of the two semi trucks. The profile on this truck as a much more elongated nose. It is lower at the top too. The wheels here do not seem to be as large as for a semi. So this looks to be a whole new truck design.

I'm shocked that Tesla just started developing this without telling us.

Is there any chance that this is not a Tesla. The Twitter exchange between UPS and Tesla sure seems like this is the real deal without overtly saying so.

Brown looks good on Tesla.

I'd love to see a van or minibus in this line. I'm actually looking to help my church buy a 15 seat van.
 
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mongo

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2017
15,491
54,919
Michigan
View attachment 393002

This is not one of the two semi trucks. The profile on this truck as a much more elongated nose. It is lower at the top too. The wheels here do not seem to be as large as for a semi. So this looks to be a whole new truck design.

I'm shocked that Tesla just started developing this without telling us.

Is there any chance that this is not a Tesla. The Twitter exchange between UPS and Tesla sure seems like this is the real deal without overtly saying so.

Brown looks good on Tesla.

I'd love to see a van or minibus in this line. I'm actually looking to help my church buy a 15 seat van.

Pretty sure this is the M200 that was built (limited quantities) 4+ years ago. So not Tesla, Morgan Olson. Same company that makes most of the UPS trucks (on other people's chassis/ power train).
UPS Adding 100 Electric Delivery Vans - EVWORLD.COM
 
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jhm

Well-Known Member
May 23, 2014
10,048
38,912
Atlanta, GA
Pretty sure this is the M200 that was built (limited quantities) 4+ years ago. So not Tesla, Morgan Olson. Same company that makes most of the UPS trucks (on other people's chassis/ power train).
UPS Adding 100 Electric Delivery Vans - EVWORLD.COM
Hmm, you may be right. But there does seem to be some differences. The seat really does seem to be located in the center, not on the driver's side. But maybe that is just a perspective thing.
ups_morganolson480x320.jpg
 

mongo

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2017
15,491
54,919
Michigan
Hmm, you may be right. But there does seem to be some differences. The seat really does seem to be located in the center, not on the driver's side. But maybe that is just a perspective thing.
placeholder_image.svg
Yeah, head lights look more flush, but I don't expect that Tesla has gotten into buck riveting flat body panels (at least I hope not for their sake).

Seat is offset to the left, but the grab rail on the steps makes it look more centered.
 
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jerry33

(S85-3/2/13 traded in) X LR: F2611##-3/27/20
Supporting Member
Mar 8, 2012
20,572
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Texas
Dumb question here. Why does a vehicle that big not use bigger wheels? Seems like it would travel better?
Small wheels and higher inflation pressure mean less energy usage and better winter traction (on the normal type of winter conditions, e.g. hard packed snow and pavement). Big tires and wheels are mainly a marketing tool to sell more expensive tires and wheels. They can improve performance in some situations while making it worse in others.
 

EinSV

Active Member
Feb 6, 2016
4,343
21,895
NorCal
With Navigate on Autopilot released and doing well so far and the FSD chip now in production, I wonder how long it will take for Semi freeway self-driving to be deemed safe without a safety driver.

Seems like we need a fleet of prototypes on the road gathering data. Tesla can probably piggy-back on general FSD for much of this, but presumably will need specialized software to control the movements of such a different vehicle. They can prove the safety of platoon mode first, which would dramatically improve the Semi's (already compelling) economics.

Surface streets may take longer to solve for FSD, but Megachargers will be located near freeway exits and undoubtedly will be designed to accommodate self-driving Semis. So it is possible that Semis will be able to use FSD on freeways before general FSD use is approved for many other locations. When it gets close to its destination, the Semi can meet a driver who can take it the last few miles if needed.
 
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bdy0627

Active Member
May 19, 2015
3,505
12,193
Appleton, WI
With Navigate on Autopilot released and doing well so far and the FSD chip now in production, I wonder how long it will take for Semi freeway self-driving to be deemed safe without a safety driver.

Seems like we need a fleet of prototypes on the road gathering data. Tesla can probably piggy-back on general FSD for much of this, but presumably will need specialized software to control the movements of such a different vehicle. They can prove the safety of platoon mode first, which would dramatically improve the Semi's (already compelling) economics.

Surface streets may take longer to solve for FSD, but Megachargers will be located near freeway exits and undoubtedly will be designed to accommodate self-driving Semis. So it is possible that Semis will be able to use FSD on freeways before general FSD use is approved for many other locations. When it gets close to its destination, the Semi can meet a driver who can take it the last few miles if needed.
What about weather? Let's say a severe rainstorm or snowstorm hits. I don't think there is a current solution for that other than pulling over and waiting as long as it takes either for the conditions to improve. It may be that they can run the semi only in locations that do not experience snowstorms. Pulling over and waiting out a rainstorm should be doable. I think we are still quite a ways (5+ years?) until regulations will allow for no human driver in the vehicle.
 

EinSV

Active Member
Feb 6, 2016
4,343
21,895
NorCal
What about weather? Let's say a severe rainstorm or snowstorm hits. I don't think there is a current solution for that other than pulling over and waiting as long as it takes either for the conditions to improve. It may be that they can run the semi only in locations that do not experience snowstorms. Pulling over and waiting out a rainstorm should be doable. I think we are still quite a ways (5+ years?) until regulations will allow for no human driver in the vehicle.

I imagine Tesla will err on the side of safety and try to pre-plan to avoid dangerous weather conditions when possible. That is the same approach recommended for other truckers -- an example is below. Tesla will likely err on the side of caution introducing self-driving in severe weather but there are already many anecdotal reports from drivers of Autopilot seeming to drive better in heavy rain than they do.

Storm Safety Tips for Over the Road Truck Drivers

To stay safe, you need to know how to avoid severe weather or dangerous weather conditions when possible proactively:

Pre-weather planning for your haul
  • Before heading out, check the weather for your route.
  • If severe or inclement weather is in your path, try and re-route and plan the time to avoid weather.
  • If you cannot re-route; consider postponing and leave after the weather. Arriving late is better than not arriving at all.
 

LCR1

Active Member
Oct 24, 2017
1,351
1,178
Houston
....
Storm Safety Tips for Over the Road Truck Drivers

To stay safe, you need to know how to avoid severe weather or dangerous weather conditions when possible proactively:

Pre-weather planning for your haul
  • Before heading out, check the weather for your route.
  • If severe or inclement weather is in your path, try and re-route and plan the time to avoid weather.
  • If you cannot re-route; consider postponing and leave after the weather. Arriving late is better than not arriving at all.

You couldn't have pulled that from a worse place on the internet, the website name says it all.
 

AudubonB

One can NOT induce accuracy with precision!
Moderator
Mar 24, 2013
9,122
40,075
A heads-up -

I have an invitation to attend the Nikola Truck Public Demonstration Day, which is this coming Wednesday 17 April. The company's website does not give a lot of information about what it entails, but the ticket I received does say that 1-5pm are "Nikola NZT Riding Demos" on the Demo Track; at 3pm is the "Nikola Two & Reckless Demos", also on the track.

Unfortunately, the ticket neither is transferable nor does it allow for any +1s. I may or may not attend, but am absolutely willing to give consideration to questions anyone has for these hydrogen-fueled vehicles.
 
A heads-up -

I have an invitation to attend the Nikola Truck Public Demonstration Day, which is this coming Wednesday 17 April. The company's website does not give a lot of information about what it entails, but the ticket I received does say that 1-5pm are "Nikola NZT Riding Demos" on the Demo Track; at 3pm is the "Nikola Two & Reckless Demos", also on the track.

Unfortunately, the ticket neither is transferable nor does it allow for any +1s. I may or may not attend, but am absolutely willing to give consideration to questions anyone has for these hydrogen-fueled vehicles.
I'm a lot more interested in how they plan to hit their fuel cost targets than the truck itself. No one has been able to deliver H2 at anywhere near the prices they claim.
 
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jhm

Well-Known Member
May 23, 2014
10,048
38,912
Atlanta, GA
I'm a lot more interested in how they plan to hit their fuel cost targets than the truck itself. No one has been able to deliver H2 at anywhere near the prices they claim.
My outlook is that, as the world approach a net zero carbon economy, power grids will become serious net producers of gas. That is, the grid will increasingly consume very little gas for generation and will produce an abundance of hydrogen gas for energy uses beyond the grid and as a feedstock for industrial gases. It is hard to underestimate just how large the natural gas supply is and just how challenging it will be to replace all of this with renewable electricity and renewable gases. But that is essentially what must be done to accomplish deep decarbonization. There is not enough biomass feedstock to do this. So the power grids must become a major supplier of gas.

So in the long run, hydrogen will be cheap and renewably sourced. In the long run, there will be vehicles, aircraft and ocean vessels that use hydrogen and other fuels derived from surplus electricity. But this comes as an added burden to replacing the natural gas supply with renewable gases. So the question in my mind is how much of this transportation demand for hydrogen is prudent to cultivate at this point in time? In terms of technology, what Nikola is developing is a hybrid of hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric. The size of the battery huge, around 400kWh IIRC. So there is substantial electric range. The hydrogen piece is there as a range extender and quick refuel option. This seems quite reasonable for making judicious use of hydrogen. In terms of the large picture, however, I would prefer Nikola to work more aggressively on battery propulsion first. There is huge demand for battery electric trucks with 300 mile range to satisfy first. That market is nowhere near saturated. If we work out the battery supply and refine the technology for ranges which are addressable by li-ion batteries under 1MWh, we can solve most of the problems. Then after that if there is still a need for hydrogen range extenders, it seems that is more easily bolted on to a refined BEV. So my perspective is that is premature to put to much R&D and product development into hydrogen. That effort would yield more climate change impact over the next 10 years if it were focused instead on pure BEV technologies.

In the meantime, most hydrogen will continue to be sourced from natural gas. I know Nikola want to electrolyze their own hydrogen, but there is still an opportunity cost here. The hydrogen they make has the opportunity to displace natural gas being steam reformed into hydrogen elsewhere. So by increasing demand for hydrogen, they are doing very little to actually displace natural gas as a source of hydrogen. I would say as long as hydrogen is substantially derived from natural gas, we simply do not have a large enough electric supply of hydrogen to warrant growing demand for hydrogen. The time will come, but it is at least 10 years away, but more like 20 to 30 years away.

Likewise, over the next 20 years, the power grids of the world are still net consumers of gas. To get serious about scaling up transport hydrogen demand, I think the grids need to become net producers of gas. Over the next 20 year most progress to becoming a net producer of gas will simply be scaling back the amount of natural gas (and coal) used for power generation. Premature expansion of hydrogen vehicles will also lock in natural gas and coal power generation by competing with the grid for limited hydrogen supply. For grid hydrogen power generation both gas turbine generators and fuel cells can be used. Fuel cells have the advantage of being a form distributed power generation, so that implies potential T&D savings over centralized gas turbines. So I do expect that for grid applications, fuel cell technology will continue to attract R&D and start up funding. As the fuel cell tech is perfected for distributed power generation, this will yield directly usable tech for transportation applications. If you've good at solid fuel cell technology for microgrids, you can easily put this into ocean vessels as well. While batteries may be terrific for terrestrial transport especially trucks, the prospects for ocean going vessel is much more limited. Spending 20 days at sea makes for some very tricky charging challenges (and very infrequent battery cycling), while semis can in most applications charge daily or more frequently. So the hydrogen fuel cell needs to be developed, but in terms of advancing the path to decarbonization the better and more pressing applications are for microgrids and ships. Addressing those application will advance the technology to the point that integration with land vehicles is trivial. But more importantly the fossil fuels displaced in ocean-going ships is not so immediately addressable by renewable electricity as it is for terrestrial BEVs.

Of course all this technology need to be developed eventually, so more power to Nikola for whatever they accomplish. I just think their timing is a little off. The next ten years will be about BEVs and grid batteries. Electrolyzers and fuel cells are more for the 2030s.
 
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jerry33

(S85-3/2/13 traded in) X LR: F2611##-3/27/20
Supporting Member
Mar 8, 2012
20,572
27,874
Texas
Of course all this technology need to be developed eventually, so more power to Nikola for whatever they accomplish. I just think their timing is a little off. The next ten years will be about BEVs and grid batteries. Electrolyzers and fuel cells are more for the 2030s.
I doubt it. There's no way to get around the energy conversion loss of turning electricity into hydrogen. There's no way to get around the embrittlement problem. Maybe in 3030 the embrittlement problem can be solved with zero energy force fields, but the energy conversion loss will always be there. Until then it's better to use the energy to directly power the cars.
 
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jerry33

(S85-3/2/13 traded in) X LR: F2611##-3/27/20
Supporting Member
Mar 8, 2012
20,572
27,874
Texas
Also the safety issue of a fuel with a flammability range of 4% to 75%, that burns clear, and collects on the ceiling. There are special requirements for repair shops that handle hydrogen vehicles.
Right. Hydrogen does have one advantage--it puts a lot of service dollars into the car dealers' pockets.
 
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dc_h

Active Member
Feb 14, 2015
3,661
13,996
Naperville, IL
What about weather? Let's say a severe rainstorm or snowstorm hits. I don't think there is a current solution for that other than pulling over and waiting as long as it takes either for the conditions to improve. It may be that they can run the semi only in locations that do not experience snowstorms. Pulling over and waiting out a rainstorm should be doable. I think we are still quite a ways (5+ years?) until regulations will allow for no human driver in the vehicle.
Way more has a fro fenced solution and Tesla now seems out in front. A truck route to and from Fremont to Sparks would be pretty valuable. Another from Fremont to Pier 80 with some cars pulling off the truck. Maybe into the boat too?from there, the central coast highway to LA doesn’t seem too big a stretch. Routes they run daily should be doable sooner.
 

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