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Tesla Semi

Discussion in 'TSLA Investor Discussions' started by jhm, Jul 25, 2016.

  1. jhm

    jhm Well-Known Member

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    Remember when Tesla unveiled Powerpacks and Powerwalls. They really talked up partnering with other companies and creating an ecosystem. This was even the reason why they did not include inverters. They wanted other companies to step into that space. But since then, I don't hear much about partners, and they have included their own inverters. There is much more focus on Tesla Energy than a Tesla ecosystem.

    So what happened? Did they just get greedy? I suspect that the ecosystem just wasn't coming together as quickly as Musk would have liked. And Musk is not inclined to sit around and wait for others to decide to come along.

    So my impression is that we may see this repeat again. With Tesla Semi there are huge opportunities for a vast ecosystem. And so many of the ideas we are talking here about are things that an inspired entrepreneur could run with within this ecosystem. Anybody want to design the smartest damn electric trailer on the market? It's wide open, and I bet that Tesla would be happy work with you on it. So at the unveiling I expect Musk to express a great deal of welcome to anyone that want into this ecosystem. But...what happens when entrepreneurs fail to step forward? I think Tesla will fill in critical gaps. I don't see Tesla going into competition with FedEx or UPS so long as they are quick to exploit the opportunities. But if they leave big gaps, Tesla or someone else may just fill them. Amazon comes to mind.

    Another issue here is that Musk really cares about Tesla's rate of growth. Sucking all the juice out of a certain value chain may not be compatible with ambitious growth. I think this is why Tesla wanted partners in the energy space. Why get bogged down in bidding for contracts and installing systems when so many other players are willing and able to do that? The more rapidly the stationary battery market grows, the more rapidly Tesla can scale into that market. That's what they wanted. But apparently Tesla Energy has to do some of that blocking and tackling themselves to get this market rolling. So I think this is really important for anyone who wants to play in Tesla's ecosystem: Tesla wants to move fast. If you can facilitate that for Tesla, Musk will be your best friend.
     
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  2. adiggs

    adiggs Active Member

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    This version of Tesla (since we're all just wish casting and hypothesizing and making stuff up) is a version of Tesla I will stay invested in. Here the mission is still accelerating the advent of sustainable transport (and I believe, the better business opportunity), where the problem is adoption isn't happening, so Tesla steps in to help make an idea tangible, and easier for others to see and start taking advantage of.

    This makes great sense to me.

    Tesla as a logistics company doesn't make sense to me.
     
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  3. Snerruc

    Snerruc Member

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    Guys, you talk about 500 kW of batteries when you probably need 10,000 kW to replace 150 to 300 gal of diesel. A grid power pack is more like it. A 80,000 lb rig is 16 5000 lb Teslas needing to go 700 miles between refueling.
     
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  4. ohmman

    ohmman Maximum Plaid Member

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    Diesel semis get between 4-8 mpg from what I can tell. 6.5 mpg looks to be a reasonable mean. Your 213 gallons then implies a range of 1384.5 miles. If we're comparing, we're going to need to have a battery pack configuration that does the same.

    My Model X with a 90kWh pack towing my 22' Airstream weighing ~3750 lbs results in consumption of 575Wh/mi and a range of 120ish miles at 55mph in ideal conditions (no cold, no wind). Three 100kWh packs isn't remotely comparable to the ICE configuration above. I believe it would need to be in the realm of 6-10 100kWh packs for a long range semi, resulting in a range in a realm greater than 750 miles. For intercity deliveries, a different configuration would likely be acceptable.

    While I appreciate the data, I think there's a bunch of hand waving going on here. Transportation pack density is already known - 1500 lbs for 100kWh means 66.7Wh/lb. We're definitely expecting it to get better, but that's the current ground truth. And efficiency at 1.2 to 1.5 kWh/mile also seems quite optimistic to me, given my towing experience. But that all depends on the scope of the delivery vehicle. Low speed deliveries on a short trailer would quite possibly be able to reach the upper bound of your range.
     
  5. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    You guys are not thinking big enough... Musk said "really next level".

    Just swapping the diesel with a heap of batteries and few electric motors is not the next level, it is the same level. I bet Tesla semis wont look like that at all.

    So, what does next level look like?
    To me, it looks like this:
    - it is a motorized and 'batterized' unit sized to except one big container
    - all wheels are motorized and articulated
    - it is bi-directional i.e. does not have front and rear end
    - it does not have a cabin for a human operator
    - it is capable of autonomous operation and joining a virtual road train
    - such road-trains are capable of be autonomous travel from A to B
    - human operator in a normal car (M3 of course) can lead such road-train through more demanding road
    conditions and/or remotely drive the 'trailer'
    - this units will be part of Tesla Network
     
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  6. jhm

    jhm Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I probably got ahead of things on the pack density. I'm usually thinking about cell density, but the rest of the pack adds quite a bit.

    However, I think the 8kWh/gal gasoline or 9kWh/gal diesel figure is fairly robust. It basically comes down to the relative efficiency of BEV drivetrain versus ICE drivetrain. The rest of the vehicle does not matter. So if you've got a tractor-trailer that gets say 6.5 mpg, switching that with battery electric gets 1.38 kWh/mi = 9 kWh/gal / 6.5 mpg. Now some super efficient designs are pushing 12 mpg. So if Tesla were to achieve comparable aerodynamics and roll resistance, we could be looking at 0.75 kWh/mi. My guess is that they are definitely working those angles vigorously.

    So per Mitch's post above, I'm willing to give Tesla the benefit of the doubt that they have in fact figured out how to make this work. If they come out with a truck that only does 2 kWh/mile, I think it is egg on their face. To make this whole thing work, Tesla has to achieve an impressive total miles range per weight of battery, mile/kg. And by "impressive" I mean high enough that many smart people do not believe that it is presently possible. So they need some combination of high energy density in the batter and high efficiency in propulsion. So right now Musk is signaling that they've got something that may surprise us.
     
  7. dw4ngg

    dw4ngg Member

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    So basically we should expect a Tesla partnership with FedEx, UPS, or both soon yeah?

    That or Amazon takes the cake.

    Now, I'm just waiting for the irony of creating solar/battery powered barges for crude oil and rail car imports/exports. Barges are wide open targets for the sun and have lots of surface area for solar panels....
     
  8. jhm

    jhm Well-Known Member

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    Are you suggesting 100X the energy to move 16 Model S 3 times as far? I don't see how it scales that way.
     
  9. jhm

    jhm Well-Known Member

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    No I'm not expecting partnerships. I'm saying that there is a lot of room in this ecosystem, and if there are critical gaps Tesla will fill them. FedEx and UPS are not needed to fill any gaps for Tesla. But as gaps fill up, it could leave FedEx and UPS behind. So if Amazon were to exploit the opportunities in this ecosystem, they could move even further away from needing FedEx or UPS for much of anything.

    Solar barges would be nice. Eventually they won't be needed for coal or crude, but certainly for more useful things like grain.
     
  10. MostlyStock

    MostlyStock Member

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    I doubt the Tesla Semi will have battery swaps. For time sensitive loads makes more it makes more sense just to swap the tractor and driver. Telsa could provide a service that coordinates this for a small fee. Truckers may not have to drive cross country anymore but be localized to a smaller area.
     
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  11. Pando

    Pando Member

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    Interesting thought. If Elon is considering putting solar panels on top of trailers, he'll be taking advantage of the empty surface area that is otherwise unused. It will be capable of using idle time of these trailers to continue to produce energy (while loading/unloading/sitting around in the yard). Some panels could even be designed to fold open when parked, creating additional surface area. While the panel array isn't nearly powerful enough for the truck itself, a bunch of them belonging to a hauling company's fleet may just pencil out some additional efficiency for the technology to pay itself eventually. It's all in the numbers.

    Removable battery modules under the trailers could be used to easily "fuel up" the fleet that needs to hit the road.
     
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  12. Jtrader

    Jtrader Member

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    What if they had Tesla trailers with batteries underneath (connected to the cab) and a crane to load and offload shipping containers, so that the driver just pulled in and moved his shipping container on to a fully charged trailer? He could then be on his way in a few minutes.
     
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  13. electracity

    electracity Active Member

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    The big tank sizes are for buying fuel cheaply. Not really relevant for comparison.
    Most semis are either pulling a trailer owned by someone else, pulling containerized cargo, or pulling a flatbed. Trailer roofs are dirty, panels are horizontal and would be snow covered in cold climates. Better to charge off the panels on the Walmart store when the truck is unloading in the dock.

    In the real world, pulling a heavy load at highways speeds is probably in excess of 2kWh/mile. The reason to develop a Tesla semi now is probably to position for autonomous driving.

    Here are some high mpg trucks
    High-mpg Model Round-Up - Articles - Fuel Smarts - Articles - TruckingInfo.com
     
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  14. ValueAnalyst

    ValueAnalyst Closed

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    I see where you're coming from, but could you explain the difference between this vs. Tesla starting its own transportation network instead of supplying cars to Uber and Lyft?
     
  15. jhm

    jhm Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, sure, if you want to do it the easy way.

    Makes sense to me. Thanks.
     
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  16. adiggs

    adiggs Active Member

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    A good question. I think the real difference will boil down to how much "secret sauce" or real business there is in Uber etc.. outside of collect payment and pay driver. Do Uber/Lyft provide their drivers with a map / route of how to get the person they pick up, where they are going? Or is that something the driver knows or uses their own tools to figure out? And assuming they do provide that information, are they exceptionally good at it, or just about as good as widely available alternatives.

    Is there some other business function?

    Clearly they match riders and drivers. That doesn't sound all that difficult, conceptually, or all that big of a deal to the software together for. Compared to the logistics problem of getting stuff from here to there, and having everything get from wherever to the right wherever, at the right time, every time. The driver handles the tough part of making sure they have picked up the right person, and deliver them to the right place.

    With autonomous cars, the car will handle delivering people to the right place.

    That's about all I can think of, and for Tesla, they can simplify that by having drivers use their own tools to figure out how to get where their fare is going. In which case this business looks to me like all it requires is collect payment and pay driver as support functions - and those just aren't difficult enough business processes to be much of a basis for competition. The other stuff that Tesla brings to the party (dramatically lower costs through lower fuel, and maybe eventually eliminating the human driver) are then highly competitive contributions to the market, and providing the critical competitive values won't distract Tesla from it's core mission and values. Then again, I've used Uber once, ever, and cheerfully agree that I only kinda get it.

    My point being, if the business can be simplified this far, then Uber and Lyft don't really bring anything special to the table, and Tesla can compete effectively with them by simplifying the business down to handling the mechanical interactions. There isn't an additional really hard problem to solve, with a wide variety of optimums or processes that optimize the solution for different specific use cases. And thus, there is little tooth and nail capitalism to compete on, or to distract Tesla by solving an important problem for the industry (logistics), while solving the core problem like a newcomer in a highly competitive industry.

    That's the argument in favor of Tesla getting into competing with Uber/Lyft using their own network.


    I'll admit to having some reservations to Tesla trying to go it alone using only company owned cars. That brings us right back to Tesla needing to finance the whole thing themselves. Here I'd be happier to see Tesla selling cars as they do, to fleet owners, to anybody else really (who provides the financing / capital to pay for building the car), and then providing the software infrastructure that everybody checks into to get and service rides.

    The capital to replace an industry the size of personal transportation doesn't need to come from a single company.

    This reservation is less strong - partly because of the better competitive position, and partly because of my perception of this market representing a significantly smaller (still gargantuan) capital expense. I may be fooled by cost/unit on this one :)
     
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  17. sjoshuaj

    sjoshuaj Member

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    #137 sjoshuaj, Apr 15, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2017
    I actually think that battery swap is the only thing that makes sense. The key is to make it as easy and quick as possible. You locate the 600 kWh battery behind the cabin in a giant brick with the ability to slide in and out of place similar to how power tool batteries work. No need to retrieve the battery from underneath the truck. No screws or rivets to deal with. It slides on a railing with ball bearings and locks into place. The whole process can be automated and done in under a minute. Locate the swapping stations along the most common trucking routes. Done

    The trucks are all sold at a low entry point of 40,000 - 60,000 without a battery. Then you lease the battery from tesla for say 3,000 per month which includes unlimited battery swapping. That way there is no ownership issues with battery swapping and the problematic high upfront battery sticker shock is gone.
     
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  18. mmd

    mmd Banned

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    There was a DOE program to develop super efficient semi trucks few years ago. While typical semi truck mpg is ~6.5 mpg with load, Daimler's super truck achieved > 12 mpg and Airflow Bullet truck achieved 13.4 mpg with full load.

    Daimler Builds Twice-As-Efficient “SuperTruck” Class 8 Semi
    The Most Fuel Efficient Semi Truck in America

    Is The BulletTruck What Semis Will Look Like In The Future?

    bullet_truck.JPG

    As national average of diesel is ~$2.55 a gallon, the fuel cost for ~13mpg semi is 20c/mile.
    U.S. Gasoline and Diesel Retail Prices

    Assuming 2KWh/mile for an electric semi, there is no fuel cost savings for sure. Each mile will still cost ~20c. (using lower commercial average price of ~10c/KWh).
    EIA - Electricity Data

    Diesel semi engines can easily last 1.2 to 1.5 million miles and more.
     
  19. larmor

    larmor Active Member

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    If i recall from a prior CC or reveal Q&A, there was a mention of truck drivers being more like managers or fleet managers. The best part of the semi EV is that the specs are known and relatively fixed, weight and container weight, and speed, the semi doesn't have to exceed 70 mph and only needs big time torque to get moving..
     
  20. SwTslaGrl

    SwTslaGrl Member

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    Perhaps using Tesla Semi hauling the large number of Model 3 to delivery centers could be great for publicity?
     
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