The Tesla Semi recently got a shoutout from someone who is part of Elon Musk’s most intimate circle — Kimbal Musk. In a recent post on his Instagram page, Kimbal dubbed the electric long-hauler as a “Big Green” Tesla Semi, referencing his nonprofit organization aimed at building Learning Gardens for schools across the United States.
Quite interestingly, Kimbal Musk’s projects, such as Big Green and Square Roots, could benefit from using the Tesla Semi. Big Green, for one, is involved with building interactive, modular gardens where young American students can learn about real food and healthy eating habits. Considering Kimbal Musk’s goal of building 100,000 Learning Gardens across the US, having an electric truck that can haul materials would be a good idea.
The Tesla Semi is also a perfect match for Kimbal’s Square Roots farming project. Square Roots involves converting old shipping crates into advanced, climate-controlled indoor farms that can yield more than 50 pounds of organic, non-GMO, pesticide-free greens each week. So far, Square Roots is only operating its shipping container-farms in Brooklyn, NY, but it’s not too difficult to see a future where the farming startup’s indoor farms can be transported and set up in other key US cities.
Since being unveiled last November, the Tesla Semi has been sighted numerous times across the United States. Back in March, Elon Musk announced in his social media pages that Tesla would start using the all-electric trucks as transport vehicles to haul battery packs from Gigafactory 1 in Sparks, NV to the Fremont factory in CA. The two Tesla Semi prototypes have also been spotted conducting transport runs between Tesla’s headquarters in Palo Alto, CA and Fremont.
During its unveiling back in November, Elon Musk outlined several of the Semi’s impressive specs. Just like Tesla’s other vehicles, the Semi is capable of quick acceleration, thanks to its four Model 3-derived electric motors that produce instant torque. From a dead stop, the Semi is capable of sprinting from 0-60 mph in just 5 seconds, compared to about 15 seconds on a similar Class 8 diesel truck. With a full 80,000-pound load, the Semi can hit 60 mph in 20 seconds. On average, diesel-powered Class 8 trailers hit highway speeds in about a minute.
The Tesla Semi is capable of climbing 5% grades at a steady 65 mph, unlike diesel trucks that max out at 45 mph on 5% grades. Lastly, thanks to an upcoming network of Megachargers, the Semi will be capable of charging up to 400 miles of range in just 30 minutes.
During Tesla’s Q1 2018 earnings call, both Elon Musk and CTO JB Straubel noted that the production version of the Semi’s long-range variant would likely have almost 600 miles of range per charge. These statements, of course, stand in stark contrast to criticisms from Tesla’s competitors, especially Daimler AG head of trucks Martin Daum, who threw shade at Tesla earlier this year by suggesting that the Semi’s rated specs, if accurate, defy the laws of physics. According to Straubel, much of competitors’ criticisms come from a misunderstanding of Tesla’s battery technology.
“There’s a fundamental misunderstanding, I think, of what the current technology in our existing products can actually do. Maybe that’s just a misunderstanding of the current status of the technology versus others in the industry. If they’re benchmarking sort of the best battery pack they can buy from a supplier, and then mapping that with what the Semi could do, it doesn’t solve,” Straubel said.
While Tesla is not actively pushing sales for the Semi, Straubel noted during the first-quarter earnings call that the all-electric long-hauler has roughly 2,000 reservations to date. Production of the Tesla Semi is expected to begin in 2019.