HAWTHORNE, Calif. -- Tesla announced the new Tesla Semi Thursday night -- and surprised everybody with a working prototype of a new Roadster sports car.
CEO Elon Musk claims the car will do 60 mph in 1.9 seconds -- the first production car to perform that in under 2 seconds, he said. Top speed is 250 mph. Price: $200,000.
He said production is planned to begin in 2020.
He was sketchy about the new electric Tesla Semi. He claimed a range of 500 miles, far more than anyone anticipated. He provided no detail about the size and weight of the battery, but did say that total operating costs would be lower than for a diesel-driven truck.
The truck is scheduled for production in 2019, Musk said.
Whether Tesla can build it in sufficient numbers, with acceptable levels of quality, at a cost of ownership that makes sense to shipping fleet executives and other bulk buyers of heavy trucks is a different question.
Other truck makers –– including International, Volvo, Nikola and Mercedes-Benz –– are also developing electric trucks with self-driving capabilities. Tesla won't have the market to itself.
No diesel engine under the hood means plenty of room in the cab. Getting in and out is more like climbing stairs than ascending a step ladder. A tall man can comfortably stand in the Tesla cab. The steering wheel is center mounted, with a touch screen on either side. The dashboard is stark, with few gauges, buttons, stalks, or knobs.
Tesla is touting greater safety. "Jackknifing is prevented due to the Semi's onboard sensors that detect instability and react with positive or negative torque to each wheel while independently actuating all brakes," a company handout said.
"Jackknifing with this truck is gone," Musk said. "You don't have to worry about it."