Composites Manufacturing Magazine

Tesla Unveils All-Electric Semi-Truck with 500-Mile Range

On Friday, Tesla unveiled its highly-anticipated Class 8 all-electric semi-truck, known as “BAMF Performance” to more than 1,000 Tesla passenger car owners, investors and potential customers. Back in September, Tesla CEO Elon Musk teased the truck, saying it would be “worth seeing this beast in person.” During the unveiling event, Tesla showed two version of the truck: A low-roof design and a highly streamlined “tall boy” version topped with aerodynamic fairing and featuring full-body fairings that covered the drive wheels to improve wind resistance. Both prototypes are day cabs.

The truck boasts a 500-mile electric range, can pull a gross weight of 80,000 pounds, and can go from zero to 60 mph in 20 seconds, which is about 40 seconds faster than a conventional diesel truck. While lengths under that range are generally considered regional, rather than a long-haul, the truck would satisfy many freight requirements. Nearly 80 percent of freight in the U.S. is moved less than 250 miles. The average length-of-haul in the trucking industry has dropped from about 800 miles 15 years ago to about 500 miles last year, according to the American Trucking Association.

The prototype of the truck is made almost entirely of CFRP. Trucks.com reports, however, that Tesla has not made a final decision on the materials to be used for production models. Tesla uses aluminum for most of the structural material in its cars, but could opt for a combination of aluminum and composites for the production truck in order to offset the weight of the battery pack.

Inside, the traditional trucker’s cab has been reinvented as well. Made with carbon fiber panels, the Tesla Semi’s cabin features a central driving position, with two screens flanking the steering wheel.

Over the past few years, the use of composites in semi-trucks and buses has grown significantly. One of the leaders in this space in Proterra, which recently set a world record for driving the longest distance ever traveled by an electric vehicle on a single charge – 1,102.2 miles. Proterra has noted in the past that it may branch out into electric trucks as well.