Musk says the Model 3 has the top priority at the moment, but the company is still working on the semi, too.
A new rendering by Jan Peisert lets us imagine what Tesla’s forthcoming semi truck might look like. We might see the real thing sometime this year.
Peisert imagines the Tesla Semi with a huge glass face and strongly creased design. High-mounted rear-facing cameras replace traditional mirrors. The angular styling looks very futuristic, but we’re not sure if it’s quite something Tesla would put on the road. Looking at the automaker’s existing products, the firm seems to favour flowing, more organic shapes. Similarly organic sculpting would seem to make sense for the company’s commercial vehicle.
In the time-lapse video below, you can see how Peisert came up with the design. He started with an image of the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 and gradually tweaked the shape into this rendering of a semi.
Peisert’s rendering came at the perfect time because Musk just dropped a new detail about the semi project on Twitter. According to Tesla’s boss the commercial truck project is still under development, but “Model 3 is the overwhelming priority,” he wrote.
Musk announced the semi last year in his ambitious “Master Plan, Part Deux” message about Tesla. At the time, he said the vehicle would “deliver a substantial reduction in the cost of cargo transport, while increasing safety and making it really fun to operate.” In a later call with financial analysts, Musk estimated a reveal of the commercial model in six to nine months from that time – putting a debut around May 2017 based on that timetable. Presumably, we would see it first in prototype form and a production version would within five years. In another recent tweet, Musk indicates the big rig would have a battery capacity larger than 100 kilowatt hours.
Musk tapped Jerome Guillen to lead the Tesla semi program. He was a Model S Program Director and previously helped develop the Freightliner Cascadia big rig. Given that resumé, it’s hard to imagine a person better suited to developing the company electric 18-wheeler.
By the time the Tesla Semi arrives, the company might already have competitors on two fronts. For example, the Nikola One also aims to be a green big rig but uses a hydrogen fuel cell instead of a purely electric drivetrain. Meanwhile, Otto is showing that autonomous technology can let an 18-wheeler pilot itself.