Take A Look At This New $2.4 Billion Tesla Semi Truck Factory: By now, it should not be breaking news that Tesla is boldly entering the trucking industry with the semi-truck. Elon Musk wants to leave no stone unturned in his quest to up-end industries for the better.
He is not just doing that by producing more advanced and efficient vehicles for the future, he’s also doing it with the kind of factories he builds to produce those vehicles. A factory as big as 138 football fields combined. Boardwalk with hike and biking trail.
Ecological paradise with birds in the trees, butterflies, and fish in the stream. The semi-truck is nothing like what the industry has ever seen. And that’s not even the most interesting part. Why? We will fill you in on all the details in just a sec. Let’s get right into it.
Tesla Semi is a battery-powered all-electric Class 8 semi-truck in development by Tesla, Inc. In November 2017, two concept cars were revealed, with manufacturing set to begin in 2023.
The truck would have a range of 500 miles (805 kilometers) on a full charge, and with its upgraded batteries, it would be able to travel for 400 miles (640 kilometers) after an 80 percent charge in 30 minutes using a solar-powered “Tesla Megacharger” charging station.
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, stated that the Semi will come standard with Tesla Autopilot, which allows for semi-autonomous highway driving. At the November 2017 press conference Musk also stated that the company would be involved in installing a global network of “Megachargers” that would be solar-powered and would be able to recharge a truck’s batteries in 30 minutes to a capacity to travel 400 miles or 640 km.
The Tesla 2016 Master Plan was the first to discuss the Semi. Tesla said at the time that they had a functioning prototype that used “a bunch of” of Model 3 electric motors. Jerome Guillen had been in charge of the Tesla Semi development since April 2017.
Guillen was previously in charge of Freightliner’s Cascadia Diesel-engine Class 8 semi before joining Tesla to configure the Model S production line. He left the Semi program a year later to lead one of the Model 3 general assembly lines, and in September 2018, he was named Tesla president of automotive.
Gigafactory Texas, also known as Tesla Gigafactory 5 or Giga Texas, is a factory outside Austin, Texas, that has been under construction by Tesla, Inc. since July 2020.
Tesla plans to start mass manufacturing by the end of 2021 and reach full capacity in 2022. During 2019 and 2020, Tesla was evaluating locations in eight states across the central United States.
Several community organizations and government authorities in the United States indicated an interest in hosting the Tesla Gigafactory, which is planned to be a massive manufacturing complex.
Some have shown interest in making land acquisition easier, overcoming regulatory barriers, and contemplating tax incentives. Some utilized social media marketing to personally contact Elon Musk. Tesla was in the midst of a selection process by May 2020.
Austin, Nashville (Tennessee), and Tulsa were on the shortlist (Oklahoma). By the middle of May, Tesla had visited two places in the Tulsa area. It was in July 2020, Tesla selected Austin as the site.
Tesla released four photographs of the vast automobile plant it’s building just east of Austin on July 26th, in conjunction with the publication of its second-quarter financial results.
The images depict the inside and outside of the so-called Gigafactory Texas, as well as an overhead view of the building site with dozens of employees. The factory’s construction began in July of last year and looks to be approaching completion.
Tesla’s plans for 280 acres of the 2,100-acre site it acquired for $97 million in July last year were first detailed in a report to the Texas state government. A vast oblong manufacturing structure immediately east of Texas Highway 130, spanning from near the Colorado River north to approximately Harold Green Road, was part of the proposal filed.
The facility’s footprint, including parking lots, is 7.9 million square feet, or the equivalent of 138 football fields. It’s still unknown what Tesla will do with the site’s remaining 1,800 acres since neither Tesla spokespeople nor Musk himself has addressed the issue.
Tesla was expected to do a large amount of extra work at the site, according to Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives, but he cautioned that the business has a reputation for keeping its intentions close to the vest. “I see, ultimately, them making this much more than a typical factory,” Ives said. “It’s not just about the factory.”
He was right because based on certain reports, it seems as if the extra space was kept for free-range testing of their large semi-trucks. Tesla will also require a test-driving facility, according to Ives. Beyond the initial 280 acres, he noted, “there is a lot more timber to chop ahead” in terms of development.
Meanwhile, the site plan filed with the city does not appear to depict any of the public facilities that Tesla CEO Elon Musk touted when announcing intentions to build the plant here in July, so those may be shown in later phases.
“We are going to make it a factory that is going to be stunning,” Musk said at the time. “It is right on the Colorado River. So we are actually going to have a boardwalk where there will be a hike and biking trail.
It is basically going to be an ecological paradise — birds in the trees, butterflies, fish in the stream. And it will be open to the public as well, so not closed and only open to Tesla.” He described the said public facilities like this.
Travis County and the Del Valle school district aided in the attraction of the business by providing tax credits worth a minimum of $60 million. The state did not provide any financial incentives to the corporation for the construction of the facility, which is planned to employ 5,000 people.
Currently, around 70% of Tesla vehicles are made in Fremont, California, with the other 30% made in a facility in China that Tesla inaugurated late last year. A Tesla assembly facility is now under development in Germany, in addition to the proposed Austin factory.
With all that about the factory known, let’s consider what we know about the Tesla Semi truck itself a little bit. Researchers at the Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering performed a theoretical analysis of electric semi-trucks in mid-2017, apparently in response to Musk’s description of Tesla’s work on a “heavy-duty, long-range semi-truck” at a lecture in April 2017.
An electric semi could be possible for short- or medium-range carrying, but not for long-range hauling, according to the calculations, since the weight of the batteries necessary would consume too much of the weight permitted by law.
One estimate put the battery weight at 11,800 kg, which would account for one-third of the payload and raise the truck’s capital cost to about twice that of a diesel counterpart.
The payload capability of the production-spec Class-8 heavy truck has also been questioned by others. However, according to the Impact Report 2020, Semi’s payload capacity would be larger because of the increased weight allowed for electric semi-trucks in the United States and the European Union.
Electric semi-trucks can already carry a 2-tonne load more than their diesel counterparts in the EU. Electric semi-trucks have a payload allowance of 0.9 tonnes more than diesel semi-trucks in the United States.
“With both the US and EU having approved higher weight allowance for electric heavy-duty trucks, we expect the payload to be at least as high as it would be for a diesel truck,” the report has stated.
In the previous several years, Tesla claims to have achieved substantial advancements in battery technology. This, too, will aid in raising the Tesla Semi’s cargo capacity. The electric vehicle company claims that its 4680 battery cells are far more advanced than those used in 2017.
These battery cells are small and light, but they pack a punch in terms of energy density. As a result, the new 4680 battery pack reduces the electric vehicle’s weight, allowing it to carry more cargo. It also provides more range on a single charge.
According to the Tesla Impact Report 2020, the semi-truck should be able to travel over 804 kilometers on a single charge. It further boasts that, because of its aerodynamics and strong electric engine, the Tesla semi-truck will be able to achieve an efficiency of more than 0.80 km per kWh.
We should take a step back and carefully consider the fact that Tesla is betting rather big on a factory mainly to produce an electric truck, a type of vehicle with unproven market viability. $2.4 billion on a factory of such scale by such a new entrant to the automobile industry?
It’s unheard of. Nonetheless, the future for the Semi looks bright and we can clearly see why Tesla saw merit in the program. Allowing the vital trucking industry to go zero-emissions will be seen as a massive technological feat, alongside a victory for environmental activists who will look upon Tesla more favorably.
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