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Love or Hate Elon Musk, The Tesla Semi is a Big Step Forward

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The December 1st launch date is good news for the climate

Elon Musk confirmed, via tweet, that a Tesla Semi successfully completed a 500 mile trip, fully loaded, on November 27th. With a full weight of 81,000 lbs, the 500 mile trip on a full charge is an impressive feat that bodes well for the production roll out, scheduled to begin on December 1st, 2022.

The date also coincides with scheduled delivery of the first production Semis to Pepsi. The timing is also interesting as Coca-Cola has recently begun its roll out of Renault trucks intended for last-mile deliveries in Belgium.

The Tesla Semi accomplishment is particularly impressive as the difficulty of designing a long-haul EV truck that is capable of 500 miles on a charge with a full load of cargo plus battery weight is off-the-charts difficult.

The 500 mile target is important since it corresponds to an 8 hour shift for drivers, after which a rest period would be mandatory. Not only is there an obvious climate benefit to fleets, and eventually the entire long haul industry, switching to EVs, the reduced costs per mile compared to diesel is significant.

Since an 80% charge is the recommended maximum for battery health and longevity, the Tesla Semi is expected to be able to run 400 miles (fully loaded) on a charge. The company has plans to provide solar-powered “Tesla Megacharger” charging stations that can reach 80% in 30 minutes.

Reducing the long haul diesel carbon footprint is a hugely important milestone

Diesel emissions are dirty if you try to breathe them, but they also emit 13% more CO2 compared to vehicles running on gasoline. As of 2020, transportation was responsible for 27% of GHG emissions, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Although replacing the entire US fleet of both passenger vehicles and trucks with EVs, charged ideally by sustainable energy sources is a huge, long term undertaking, the mere possibility that it can be accomplished is proven by this first step into sustainable commercial transportation.

Considering the economic benefits, the opposite of a so-called “green premium” the adoption of EVs for the long haul trucking industry seems very likely to proceed rapidly. And, regardless of your take on Twitter’s recent drama, that’s good news for all of us.

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