Anticipation was already high for Elon Musk’s big reveal of Tesla’s all-electric semi truck at the company’s design studio near Los Angeles on Thursday night.
So naturally, Musk, ever the showman, seized the opportunity to drop a fresh surprise: a two-seater electric roadster that can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds, is capable of 620 miles of range, and is priced at $200,000.
“The point of doing this is to just give a hardcore smack-down to gasoline cars,” Musk announced to a roaring crowd. “Driving a gasoline sports car is going to feel like a steam engine with a side of quiche.”
To be sure, Tesla has been in need of a win. The company’s Model 3 sedan, which booked somewhere around a half million preorders since early 2016, has suffered production bottlenecks following its official rollout in July amid what Musk himself has called “production hell.”
Musk has said the primary problem is battery assembly — an area once thought to be among Tesla’s strengths.
The glitz of Thursday’s event, then, seemed to be aimed at reviving the company’s sense impending inevitability as the future king of electric carmakers, and Musk seemed to relish detailing how his latest inventions will outshine conventional fossil fuel vehicles.
The semi truck boasts staggering pickup. Musk illustrated the point with a graphic showing the Tesla Semi accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in just 20 seconds, bearing 80,000 lbs. of tow load, while a standard-model competitor appeared to be just barely lumbering to a start across the screen behind him.
“On the left, the thing that looks like it’s not moving, is a diesel truck,” Musk said.
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Musk said the Tesla Semi will have a 500-mile maximum range and better uphill performance than a standard vehicle. The company plans to build a network of “megachargers” capable of imparting a 400-mile range in just 30 minutes.
Only the future will tell what the new lineup means for Tesla’s corporate fortunes. But early indications are that some people are already buying.
Bloomberg News reported customers have begun placing orders for the Tesla Semi, including Meijer Inc., a grocery chain in the Midwest. The company placed a $5,000 deposit on each of four Tesla Semis, Bloomberg said, adding that the company operates 220 trucks in six states. Wal-Mart has also preordered five of the electric trucks for the US and 10 for Canada.
Dan Scherer, a fleet manager for the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based retailer, Meijer Inc., told Bloomberg: “Electric drivetrains are a proven technology.”
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