Red lorry, Tesla lorry: Here's what you need to know about Elon Musk's truck

 
Emma Haslett
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The Semi includes autonomous features, but isn't completely driverless (Source: Tesla)

It's been rumoured for a while, but last night Tesla unveiled the unfortunately-named Semi: its first bonafide, futuristic-looking electric lorry.

The electric car maker has struggled in recent weeks after it was forced to delay the production of its new mass market car, the Model 3, and fired hundreds of employees after a performance review.

But Elon Musk, Tesla's founder, has had other things on his mind:

Intrigued? Here's everything we know...

1. It's speedy

The Semi can do zero to 60mph in five seconds, compared with 15 seconds in a similar, diesel-powered truck. When it's fully stacked with an 80,000 lb load, that acceleration slows to a more sedate 20 seconds, although Tesla points out a similarly loaded diesel truck would take a minute to reach the same speed.

And this may be the end of getting stuck behind slow-moving trucks crawling up hills: the new vehicle can climb a five per cent incline at a steady 65mph.

2. It can go a long way

With consumption of less than two kilowatt hours per mile, the truck can go 500 miles on a single charge, while just half an hour plugged into one of Tesla's so-called Megachargers will give it a 400-mile range. The company pointed out that with 80 per cent of freight moving less than 250 miles in the US, that's pretty good going. In fact, it reckons most owners can expect to save $200,000 over 1m miles based on fuel costs alone.

3. It's plush

The cabin is designed around the driver, Tesla said: stairs into it are unobstructed, it has full standing room and puts the driver in the middle for extra visibility. It also includes touchscreens providing access to navigation, blind spot monitoring and electronic data.

4. It's very safe

Safety features include a reinforced battery which shields the truck from impact and gives it a low centre of gravity, a windscreen made of impact-resistant glass, and on-board sensors to detect instability and prevent jackknifing. It also has cameras to reduce blind spots and detect objects around the truck, alerting the driver to hazards.

5. It's a bit driverless

The truck includes automatic emergency braking, automatic lane keeping (sensors to detect white lines and keep it in the lane) and warnings when you're about to change lanes. When the trucks are travelling in convoy, they'll be able to autonomously follow a lead Semi.

6. One more thing...

Musk also used the event to unveil Tesla's new Roadster, a supercar which can do 0 to 100km/h in 1.9 seconds, meaning it promises to be the fastest production car ever made.

(Click or tap on the images to see them in full screen)

Read more: Tesla delays production of its mass-market Model 3 car

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