Electric vehicle firm Tesla has unveiled an electric lorry - along with a new sports auto that boss Elon Musk says will be the "fastest production vehicle ever made". Using four separate electric motors, the Semi will go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in five seconds, compared with 15 seconds in a diesel cab, Musk said.
Unlike the previous version of the Roadster, Tesla's first model which went out of production in 2012, this auto will have four seats.
The "all-electric supercar" also has a 200-kilowatt battery pack that offers 620 miles of highway driving. The 500-mile version will be able to do round-trip runs on the vast majority of US freight routes, which are 250 miles or less, Musk said. A 300-mile version will also be available.
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The Tesla Semi is a standard Class 8, the largest commonly used class of heavy-duty freight trucks.
Musk also said Tesla would build a network of Megachargers that would charge the trucks' batteries to a 400 mile range in just 30 minutes, but there has been scepticism that the battery cost of the truck could be prohibitive.
Musk said customers can put down a $5,000 deposit for the semi now and production will begin in 2019. Fleet operators want reliable trucks, and Tesla will have to prove it can make them, said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst with the vehicle shopping site Autotrader.
CEO Elon Musk said the semi is capable of traveling 500 miles (804 kilometers) on an electric charge - even with a full 80,000-pound (36,287-kilogram) load - and will cost less than a diesel semi considering fuel savings, lower maintenance and other factors. The figure assumes a diesel price of $2.50 a gallon versus 7 cents/kWh for electricity and a maximum load traveling at an average speed of 60 miles per hour. Regulations require commercial trucks to be sidelined if their windshields are cracked in a way that could affect the driver's view. "But charging can be a challenge and Tesla big rigs will cost far more than diesel trucks".
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Also unique to the Semi is the driver's seating position.
Remember the original Tesla Roadster - looked a bit like a Lotus Exige, costed a lot more and went like stink? In what has become something of a pattern in recent years, Musk has unveiled ambitious and even visionary new plans for Tesla, as the company copes with putting those ideas into effect - and cars on the road.
Watch Tesla's stock price move in real time.
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