Hi, Giktayms! I present to your attention the translation of the article Tesla Unveils an Electric Rival to Semi Trucks from The New York Times.
Tesla has set several goals for itself: first, to completely transform the car we are used to, and second, to find a new way of generating electricity for residential premises. Despite the fact that today both of these projects are still at the development stage, Tesla engineers embarked on a new task: to change the multibillion-dollar industry of trucks.
On Thursday, during his carefully thought-out presentation — the evening time of which was most likely not chosen by chance — Tesla's chief executive officer Ilon Mask announced his intention to create a prototype of a practically self-managing truck powered by an autonomous power source. Such cars will become more efficient and economical analogues of diesel trucks used to transport goods within the country. In addition, these trucks will not harm the environment with exhaust gases.
Whatever it was, but on this business ideas Ilona Mask in the field of automotive industry is not over. The spectators were introduced to the new Tesla Roadster, which will be able to develop 60 miles per hour in just 1.9 seconds, as well as drive 620 miles without recharging. According to Ilona, this will be the first production car capable of developing 60 miles per hour in less than 2 seconds.
It was surprising to observe the contrast of Ilona Mask: on the one hand, modestly dressed in a green jacket and simple jeans and, on the other hand, devoting viewers to their far from modest plans to create a new roadster, whose maximum speed will reach 250 miles per hour.
"We are creating a new car that is able to give a good breath to all cars running on gasoline," said Ilon in the face of more than 2000 enthusiastic spectators. "On a new electric car, you can drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back without recharging."
Also, according to Ilon, a new electric freight car will be no less innovative than a roadster: the first will be able to drive more than 500 miles on a single charge. This figure -
500 miles - exceeds the wildest assumptions of many analysts. In addition, the distances of the set of routes by which goods are transported are just within the limits of this figure.
If the new truck is not equipped with a trailer, it will be able to reach 60 miles per hour in just 5 seconds, and if it is equipped with a trailer, with a maximum load of 36 tons - within 20 seconds. For example, in order for a truck running on diesel fuel to reach such speeds it will need three times longer.
As for the price of a new electric freight vehicle, nothing is yet known, however, judging from some hints of Ilon, it will cost a lot of money.
Standing in the middle of the airfield, where, in fact, the presentation took place, Musk said: “Yes, Tesla company's products are expensive” - what caused another enthusiastic shout of the crowd.
However, according to Ilon, such a freight electric vehicle will be more economical during its operation. This is partly due to the lack of some components in it that require constant maintenance - a battery, transmission or drive shaft. So instead of such nodes for driving a new truck, which is proudly called Tesla Semi, a huge battery will be used, located under the driver's cab. This car has two rear axles, each equipped with two electric motors: one for each wheel. Ilon Musk also said that, compared with the same trucks running on diesel fuel, the new freight electric vehicle will be able to cover a greater distance in less time due to its ability to reach high speeds in a short time.
Thus, according to Tesla engineers, operating costs for a single electric truck will cost companies $ 1.26 per mile, while such costs for a diesel truck will reach $ 1.56 per mile. However, Tesla engineers argue that such costs for the new electric car may be even lower - $ 0.85 per mile, in the event that such cars travel in a column, thereby reducing aerodynamic drag. “As for cargo transportation, even railway transport will not be as profitable as the use of new freight electric vehicles,” said Musk.
The interior of the new electric car cab stands alone among the traditional interiors for this industry, which is actually characteristic of many cars from Tesla. For example, such a cabin will be spacious enough so that both the driver and passengers can stand in it. The driver's seat will be located in the middle of the cabin, and not on the traditional left side. On both sides of the driver's seat will be located special screens, the size of a regular laptop screen. Information on navigation and data scheduling, as well as images of blind spots and other areas invisible to the driver around the vehicle will be displayed on these screens.
The truck will be equipped with radar sensors, cameras and processors. This allows drivers to use the autopilot, an advanced driving assistance system that other Tesla vehicles are also equipped with, such as the Model S and the new Model 3.
The Autopilot system automatically controls, accelerates or brakes the car if it detects other cars or obstacles on the road. During such maneuvers performed with this system, the driver, however, is obliged to follow the road and keep both hands on the steering wheel.
According to Mask, the entry into the freight electric vehicle market is expected at the end of 2019.
However, Tesla may have certain problems if the distance covered by the new truck on a single battery charge is less than 500 miles. Analysts from Bernstein, an investment bank, calculated that, on average, a new Tesla truck would be able to travel from 300 to 450 miles per day on one charge. "According to our assumptions, a distance of 300-450 miles per day is a serious enough restriction for the use of this car in the field of cargo transportation," the official report of representatives of an investment bank says.
So, Tesla has another task to create a new electric truck, while not completely solving some of its other problems in the automotive industry. Not so long ago, for example, the company presented to the general public its most affordable car, the Tesla Model 3, however, Tesla also had some difficulties with it.
Production of the new Model 3 began in July at the Tesla automobile plant in Fremont, California. According to Mask, by December he hopes to increase the number of cars produced to 20,000 units per month. However, as of September, only 260 Model 3 vehicles were assembled.
Two weeks ago, in his letter to shareholders, Ilon Mask wrote that, according to his calculations, by the beginning of the year a weekly increase in cars produced by 5,000 units is expected. However, last month, Tesla laid off several hundred workers because of their allegedly low productivity, thereby causing another wave of concern about whether it is possible to meet the aggressive production goals of Mask.
Model 3, with a starting price of $ 35,000, is expected to become Tesla’s best-selling auto. For example, prices for other cars of this company - Model S luxury sedan or Model X and SUV - start from $ 70,000. Last year, Tesla produced more than 85 thousand cars, and this year the number of cars produced should exceed 100 thousand units.
Since the Model 3 with its more than attractive price will be available for a wider range of consumers, in 2018 Tesla plans to sell more than half a million cars.
According to representatives of the company, the fact that the pace of release of Model 3 to the market is somewhat slowed down is explained by some difficulties in the production of rechargeable batteries, which have arisen at the Gigafactory plant, Nevada. In addition, it became known that the welding and general assembly of cars, performed on the territory of the Fremont plant, is progressing more slowly than other processes.
“I believe that the stand-alone electric vehicle market is a very promising area,” said Michelle Krebs, an analyst at Autotrader.com. “However, I have some concerns about Tesla’s plans: I don’t really understand how they are going to carry out all their plans in such a short time. After all, you can’t promise three boxes, and then pretend that all these loud cries about freight electric cars simply didn’t exist. ”
The tension around the release of Model 3 eventually did its job: in the third quarter, the company lost $ 619.4 million, and this despite the fact that revenue from car sales increased by 8% to $ 2.08 billion.
In addition to taking the chair of Tesla’s executive company, Musk also heads Space X and the new venture The Boring Company, which develops tunnels for futuristic platforms that can transport people at a speed of 700 miles per hour.
However, competing companies have already begun to test their freight electric vehicles and technologies that allow them to be managed without driver assistance. For example, last month, Daimler introduced an electric tractor with a trailer, and representatives of Embark, a startup in Silicon Valley, announced their intention to use self-driving trucks to transport Frigidaire refrigerators from a warehouse in El Paso, Texas, to a distribution center located in 650 miles from Palm Springs, California.
“Of course, in the area of passenger car production, Tesla gives odds to all the other automaker giants thanks to its electric cars and the introduction of appropriate technologies, such as the Autopilot system. However, as far as trucks are concerned, the situation is completely different, ”Krebs said.
According to her, Tesla has absolutely no experience in the truck market, and one should not forget about serious competitors who feel great in this area, take at least Daimler, which already has its own customer base.
“You need to understand that a truck is, first of all, a working tool,” added Michelle. - “It must be constantly used. If my sports car, for example, is in maintenance, then I will calmly find another vehicle that will take me to the right place. However, this approach is unacceptable if you are engaged in the transportation of goods. "
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