Tesla unveils big rig that can travel 800km on one charge

Image credit: reuters

Tesla has unveiled an electric lorry capable of travelling up to 800km on one charge and a new Roadster, which can travel up to 1,000km.

Production for the lorry is set to begin in 2019 for the US, while the Roadster won’t be available until the following year.

The company has spent more than a decade making cars – and, more recently, solar panels – and is now looking to diversify into big trucks to help its goal of shifting to sustainable transport.

The company unveiled its new articulated lorry near its design centre in Hawthorne, California.

The interior of the cab

The truck can go up to 800km at maximum weight at highway speed, said the company’s CEO Elon Musk, without specifying the size of the payload.

Musk said the Class 8 vehicle, the heaviest weight classification for trucks, takes 30 minutes to recharge the battery enough to go nearly 650km, and that Tesla would build a global, solar-powered network of “megachargers”.

Musk said customers can put down a $5,000 (£3,778) deposit now, though they won’t receive their order for two years.

“We’re confident that this is a product that’s better in every way from a feature standpoint,” he told a crowd of Tesla fans gathered for the unveiling.

Musk did not reveal the lorry’s price, but it will come equipped with Tesla’s Autopilot system, which can maintain a set speed and slow down automatically in traffic. It also has a system that automatically keeps the vehicle in its lane.

Musk said several Tesla lorries will be able to travel in a convoy, autonomously following each other.

The company’s other unveiling was its new Roadster, a sports car with a removable glass roof and an updated version of Tesla’s first production vehicle.

It can seat four and travel 1,000km on a single charge, a new record for an electric vehicle, Musk said. It can go from 0 to 100km/h in 1.9 seconds with a maximum speed of over 400km/h, which would make it the fastest car in general production.

“You’ll be able to travel from LA to San Francisco, and back, at highway speed without recharging. The point of doing this is to just give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars. Driving a gasoline sports car is going to feel like a steam engine with a side of quiche,” Musk said.

Tesla is way behind on production of the Model 3, a new lower-cost car, with some customers facing waits of 18 months or more.

It is also ramping up production of solar panels after buying Solar City Corporation last year. 

Tesla is working on a pickup truck and a lower-cost SUV and negotiating to build a new factory in China. Meanwhile, the company posted a record quarterly loss of $619m (£470m) in its most recent quarter.

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