Tesla Semi: Jay Leno's Adventure and an Unanswered Question

Tesla Semi: Jay Leno’s Adventure and an Unanswered Question

Before we dive into the world of electric trucking with Jay Leno and Tesla’s Dan Priestley, let’s address the elephant in the room – the weight of the Tesla Semi. It’s a question that has lingered since the Semi’s debut, and Leno doesn’t waste any time getting to the heart of the matter.

Leno’s first question to Priestley is straightforward: “What does this weigh?” It’s a question that’s been on the minds of many in the trucking industry, and it’s time for some answers. 

Priestley’s response is elegant and enlightening, but it does not provide any information regarding – or even an approximation of – the weight of the Tesla Semi. He begins by taking us on a journey back to Tesla’s early days, when the company was primarily focused on designing electric cars like the Roadster and Model S. However, a pivotal moment occurred with the establishment of the Gigafactory in Nevada, a facility designed to support the production of powertrains for Tesla’s cars in Fremont.

It was here that JB Straubel, Tesla’s co-founder and CTO at the time, recognized a crucial opportunity. Straubel questioned the logic of shipping parts for electric cars on diesel trucks. Why not leverage Tesla’s expertise in electric propulsion to create electric trucks? This initial investigation gradually snowballed into a full-fledged program, driven by the passion of another Tesla executive, Jerome Guillen, who had experience in designing trucks at Freightliner.

The mission was clear – to clean up the world by hauling Tesla’s own parts on its electric trucks. This mission-driven approach underscores Tesla’s commitment to sustainability and reducing the environmental impact of transportation.

While Priestley’s response provides valuable insights into the motivation behind the Tesla Semi, it doesn’t directly answer the weight question. It’s a classic dodge, a wide one, as Leno humorously notes.

Tesla has been notably tight-lipped about the weight of the Semi, leaving the industry to speculate. Recent data from the North American Council for Freight Efficiency’s Run On Less program suggests that Semis running at gross vehicle weights exceeding 70,000 pounds still deliver reasonable range and performance.

But Priestley’s response to Leno’s weight query is intriguing. He mentions that they are “pushing 60,000 to 70,000 gross weight.” The question that lingers is whether this figure encompasses both trucks or solely refers to the payload. The weight of the Tesla Semi has remained a topic of fascination and debate, and it’s clear that precise figures are elusive.

Despite Elon Musk’s bold claim of a 500-mile range at 82,000 pounds loaded, third-party confirmation is yet to substantiate this assertion. The weight of the Semi is a critical factor, impacting its range, performance, and overall feasibility in the trucking industry.

Intriguingly, the video later showcases the Tesla Semi connecting to a Fontaine Traverse HT trailer, which is tasked with hauling another Semi, this one featuring a lower roof. In this context, Priestley informs Leno that they are “pushing 60,000 to 70,000 gross weight,” as the Tesla Semi gracefully glides down the road. This moment provides a visual glimpse into the Semi’s capabilities and the weight it can handle.

The weight of the Tesla Semi remains a tantalizing mystery, but its performance and impact on the trucking industry are undeniable. As we embark on this journey with Jay Leno and Dan Priestley, we’ll explore the innovation, practicality, and vision that Tesla brings to the world of electric trucking.

The Tesla Semi: A Game-Changer in the Trucking Industry

The Tesla Semi is poised to revolutionize the trucking industry, offering a sustainable and high-performance alternative to traditional diesel-powered semis. Jay Leno’s test drive with Dan Priestley sheds light on the innovation and practicality that Tesla has injected into the design and operation of electric trucks.

Color and Heat: Dispelling Myths

One of the first questions Jay Leno poses during the ride-along is whether the color of the Tesla Semi affects its performance, particularly with concerns about darker colors absorbing more heat. Dan Priestley assures that color choice is primarily influenced by fleet preferences and branding needs. Importantly, he highlights that color has a negligible impact on the vehicle’s performance.

Performance in Extreme Weather: Electric Advantages

Dan Priestley addresses the common misconception that electric trucks may struggle in extreme weather conditions. Contrary to this belief, electric motors offer superior traction control, making them more effective in slippery conditions due to instant torque. Furthermore, Tesla’s advanced thermal management system ensures the battery’s optimal temperature, enabling the Semi to operate seamlessly in both hot and cold environments.

Solar Panels: A Future Possibility?

Jay Leno’s curiosity extends to the possibility of incorporating solar panels on trucks to generate electricity while driving. While technically feasible, Dan Priestley explains that the current cost, complexity, and added mass of such systems outweigh the benefits in terms of energy generation and range extension. Tesla’s focus remains on developing fast-charging infrastructure as a more practical solution.

Historical Perspective: Transportation Evolution

Reflecting on the historical evolution of transportation, Jay Leno acknowledges that various propulsion methods have competed for dominance over the years. He highlights how Tesla is committed to making electric vehicles, including the Tesla Semi, practical for everyday use. This commitment involves not only building vehicles but also investing in the essential infrastructure to support them.

Tesla’s Practical Approach: Beyond Vehicles

Jay Leno commends Tesla for its practical approach, considering the entire supply chain and infrastructure. He recognizes that Tesla is not merely manufacturing vehicles but also actively working to create the necessary infrastructure to support their widespread adoption.

Revolutionary Impact: Changing the Game

Dan Priestley emphasizes Tesla’s belief that electric vehicles, including the Tesla Semi, will play a pivotal role in the future of terrestrial transport. He expresses confidence that the electric truck will revolutionize the trucking industry, making a significant impact on the environment and reducing costs for fleets.

Conclusion: A Glimpse into the Future of Trucking

The ride-along with Jay Leno and Dan Priestley in the Tesla Semi offers a fascinating glimpse into the electric truck revolution. Tesla’s practical approach, debunking myths about electric trucks’ performance, and their commitment to building both vehicles and infrastructure underscore their dedication to transforming the way goods are transported.

As the world transitions toward a more sustainable future, the Tesla Semi is at the forefront of this evolution. It not only represents a revolutionary product in the trucking industry but also serves as a symbol of how innovation and practicality can work together to drive change.

With the Tesla Semi’s capabilities and Tesla’s determination to reshape the industry, the future of trucking appears to be electric, efficient, and eco-friendly.

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