On Thursday, Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, unveiled a prototype big-rig electric truck by driving it into an airport hangar full of potential buyers and Tesla car owners. The question now is if this will be the savior for the drowning car company or if it is the beginning of the end for them.
Elon Musk revealed with huge anticipation Tesla’s latest effort to halt the fossil fuel industry with electric vehicles. The new big-rig truck, dubbed the Tesla Semi, is fully electric and the first of its kind. According to Musk, it has the potential to revolutionize the transport industry by competing with the low-cost diesel rigs that are standard today.
Musk shared the details of the truck and the numbers seem quite impressive. The truck can drive 500 miles (800 km) at maximum weight at highway speed. And since the truck is just a prototype, those numbers could be even higher when it actually hits the market. Right now, the main issue is the heavy battery that slows the truck down.
Today, an industry standard diesel rig can drive twice as far: 1,000 miles (1,600 km) on a full tank in the same conditions as the Tesla Semi. However, Musk claims that the Tesla truck is 20 percent cheaper – and of course 100 percent more environmentally friendly – per kilometer than its competitors.
Another advantage is that it is easy to drive. “I can drive this thing and I have no idea how to drive a semi,” Musk joked during the presentation.
Most analysts, however, are not sharing Musk’s vision and a lot of experts are certain that this new project will be a flop. At the moment, Tesla is burning through close to 1 billion dollars per quarter just to manufacture the Model 3. In order to put the Tesla Semi in full production, they would have to build a whole new factory which would require several billion-dollar investments.
Very few people are willing to invest that kind of money in a company that is failing on paper, and therefore the future of Tesla is uncertain.
Another issue is the costs of maintenance. Since the truck isn’t as cost-effective as its competitors, it will be hard for it to gain momentum on the market. Transportation companies in the United States are already lowering the prices as much as they can, and trying to introduce electric trucks would not make any economic sense.
The Tesla Semi wasn’t the only car unveiled yesterday. After Elon Musk had driven the new truck into an airport hangar packed to the brim with potential buyers, he opened up the trailer and a Roadster drove out. The new Tesla car is an updated version of their first production and it can seat four people. According to Musk, it set a new record for electric cars when it drove 620 miles (1,000 km) on a single charge.
Releasing a new car in combination with the new truck will certainly cost the company even more money. And this prediction is making experts even more doubtful about the company’s future.
What we can be sure of is that whatever happens to Tesla after this new business venture will affect the electric car industry tremendously. We will either start to see electric trucks on the roads or we will lose one of the most innovative businesses in the world.