Musk Surprises All With New Tesla Roadster In Truck Launch Event

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Walmart says that it intends to be among the first companies to pilot Tesla's new all-electric Semi heavy-duty truck.

On Thursday night, Tesla surprised fans with another product: An updated version of its first sports vehicle, the Roadster.

With its maximum towing weight and a constant 60mph, the Semi Truck has a range of 500 miles on a single charge. Beyond borrowing cockpit screens, flush door handles and the car's Autopilot system, the Semi's powertrain consists of four Model 3 drive axles, one powering each of the four rear wheels (the front wheels are unpowered).

Ian Wright, one of the founders of Tesla who now runs electric bus and garbage truck company Wrightspeed, welcomes the spotlight Musk has put on electrifying big vehicles, but has questions.

Tesla claims the electric costs of the Semi are half that of a traditional diesel semi truck, thanks to fewer systems to maintain (no transmission or brake pads to name a few), providing a number of over $200,000 United States dollars in fuel savings, and a two-year payback period. But you never know, if the production bottleneck gets sorted for the 3, it could well mean all future Teslas have faster production schedules because of it.

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 vehicle is so ridiculous that it nearly sounds like a joke, which is actually not usual when it comes to Elon Musk's announcements. Musk's move to reveal both the truck, and Roadster, is either a distraction so people don't focus too heavily on the company's goal of making the Model 3 a mass production vehicle, or a serious belief in electric technology. In fact, the Tesla Semi is really two tractors-a Day Cab for shorter hauls and a Sleeper for longer hauls.

Given that Tesla has been struggling to meet up to its goals for production of the Model 3, we're not holding our breath for a rapid production of the Roadster.

But some said they weren't yet sold on the Semi. The first 1,000 cars, however, will cost $250,000 each, paid in full upfront. Electricity is a lot cheaper than diesel fuel, obviously.

In describing the truck, Musk also said its windshield is made of "thermonuclear explosion-proof glass" - a feature he says will help truckers stay on the road, because regulations require commercial trucks to be sidelined if their windshields are cracked in a way that could affect the driver's view.

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. That's not something companies want to hear, and is a clear disadvantage over diesel-powered trucks. But if Musk follows through on the promised specs, the Semi and the Roadster should set new standards for electric vehicles.

Lindland added however that Musk "is not great at keeping deadlines" and that "we need to add weeks, months or years" to his timetable.