First announced by CEO Elon Musk in 2016 as part of his Master Plan, Tesla’s all-electric semi-trailer truck is one step closer to becoming a reality. The aptly named “Tesla Semi,” features four electric motors with a 500-mile range. These electric motors draw power from a battery bank, which drivers can recharge to roughly 80 percent in just 30 minutes using special solar panels.
Of course, there’s some skepticism regarding the Tesla Semi’s safety. Tesla hasn’t produced semi trucks in the past, so some people question whether it can provide a safe experience. Traditional gas-powered semi trucks, for instance, are susceptible to jackknifing, which occurs when the truck’s cab turns one way while the trailer turns the other way. This imbalance causes the semi truck to flip on its side and block lanes of traffic, creating a serious hazard for other motorists.
To put the problem into perspective, the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) says that 10 percent of all truck-related passenger fatalities are attributed to jackknifing. Well, it appears that Tesla has found a solution. As explained by TechCrunch, the Tesla Semi features sensors to monitor weight distribution across the wheels. When the truck’s weight isn’t properly balanced, it will reduce motor power, engage brakes and/or correct steering to prevent jackknifing.
When speaking about this feature, Musk said the Tesla Semi will automatically make changes to avoid jackknifing accidents. He even said that jackknifing is “impossible” with the Tesla Semi. That’s a pretty bold statement that’s sure to capture the attention of trucking companies and professional drivers.
Although it has an electric motor — four of them actually — the Tesla Semi is quite powerful. Reports indicate that it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 20 seconds with a top speed of 65 mph. Furthermore, it boasts an impressive maximum weight of 80,000 pounds.
So, what’s next for the Tesla Semi? Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, has already preordered 15 units. The company says it will use five of the new Tesla Semis in the United States and the remaining 10 in Canada. Retailer Meijer has also placed an order for four Tesla Semis. Tesla says production for the new all-electric semi trucks will begin in 2019.