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Tesla Unveils World's Fastest Production Car In Surprise Announcement

18 November 2017, 12:51 | Francis Delgado

Elon Musk has set expectations high for this truck. Mark Brake Getty Images

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The company's billionaire chief executive Elon Musk said the Semi truck is capable of travelling 500 miles on an electric charge.

Tesla revealed an all-new version of its Roadster sports vehicle that can go from a stop to 60 miles an hour in 1.9 seconds, a figure that would make it the fastest-accelerating production auto ever.

Thanks to four independent drive trains, the Semi should be capable of accelerating from zero to 60 miles per hour in 20 seconds with an 80,000-pound load.

Musk, who has pushed back the debut twice, said this week that the truck would "blow your mind clear out of your skull" when it was introduced in a webcast on Thursday at 11 p.m. ET (8 p.m. PT). "I think it will blow yours". But it will need to catch up on its Model 3 production first. Tesla says there will be a host of fleet management tools and routing tools, which will be made available on the Semi, and are otherwise seen on cars.

These are just the base specs.

Of course, with Tesla being right in the middle of "production hell" with its Model 3, it was no surprise that customers will have to wait to get their hands on these vehicles.

It was then that the Palo Alto-based automaker pushed back its 5,000-per-week production goal for the vehicle - from the end of this year, to late in the first quarter of 2018. The main bottleneck is at Tesla battery plant in Nevada, known as the Gigafactory.

Tesla's semi is venturing into an uncertain market.

Tesla Semi interior. Image source: Tesla.

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Safety is paramount in the design of the Tesla Semi, with a statement from the company claiming that "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". Musk said it will be able to maintain a speed of 65 miles per hour while going up a 5 percent grade.

The tech CEO also says it's easier and safer to drive. There's also fierce competition in the electric truck market, with Volkswagen, Daimler and Cummins all either debuting their own versions or working hard on their development.

"Everybody in the trucking industry is going to look at this", Hirsch said.

"By the time you are done with your break, the truck is ready to go".

Elon Musk surprises everyone with a new Roadster. "You can lose two of the four motors and the truck will still keep going", he said.

But some analysts fear the truck, named Tesla Semi, will be an expensive distraction for Tesla, which is burning cash, has never posted an annual profit, and is in self-described "manufacturing hell" starting up production of the $35,000 U.S. ($44, 600 Cdn) Model 3 sedan. Though the vehicle is clearly priced in supercar territory, it's far cheaper than numerous supercars it outperforms.

The introduction of the truck comes as lawmakers in Congress debate whether self-driving trucks should be included in legislation that would legalize driverless passenger cars. And if three streamlined Semis are platooned as a close-following convoy, the cost per mile would go down to 85 cents, Musk said. "Tesla clearly sees the promise". Inside the truck's cabin - tall enough for a driver to stand upright - there are two large touchscreen interfaces. The truck is a tool for making money.

Michael Harley, group managing editor for Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book, questioned Tesla's strategy.

The truck should be able to maintain a speed of 65 miles per hour going up a 5 percent grade, compared to a maximum 45 miles per hour for a diesel power train, Musk said. "A more appropriate target for the electric-vehicle maker would be the short-haul, or so-called last-mile delivery, which would benefit from regenerative braking, low noise and emission-free EV motoring".



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