Tesla is months away from revolutionizing the pickup truck market with the launch of the Cybertruck. However, there’s another type of truck people want to buy from them, and that’s the commercial Tesla Semi truck.
Today, famed talk show host and car collector Jay Leno got to drive the Tesla Semi and shared his initial impressions. The video aims to bring the features of the Semi to the attention of a wider YouTube audience while generating content for Jay’s channel. But as an early adopter of EVs, his opinion is valuable insight.
Many years ago, Elon Musk personally delivered Jay his first Tesla, which was the 2008 Roadster. In 2015, Jay bought a brand-new Model S P90D, which was later changed to the extreme Model S Plaid. “I’m stunned how good it is. I love that it’s built in America, American labor, American tech,” Leno said.
Where the Cybertruck is all about futuristic design, the Tesla Semi is all about functionality. But the people chosen to present the Semi to Jay are still designers, specifically Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen, who famously shattered the bulletproof glass of the Cybertruck on stage during the 2019 presentation.
If Tesla plays its cards right, the Semi will revolutionize the trucking industry in just a few years. It’s said that each vehicle could reduce running costs by $200,000 every 3 years compared to a regular truck. This is achieved through the efficiency of the powertrain, but also aerodynamics and having lower running costs than a combustion-engined semi.
Does the Semi share tech with other Teslas? Yes. According to the video, the Semi carries over the carbon-fiber-sleeved rotors just like a Model S Plaid, and the inverter is from the Cybertruck.
But there are also key differences. Many Teslas are AWD because this offers the best performance and traction. The Semi doesn’t have all-wheel drive. The front tires are only for steering because this saves on tire wear. Of the two driven axles, one is for acceleration and the other for cruising. Together, they can make 1500 hp, but this is tuned down to ensure a long life. The air brakes are also similar to every other truck out there because they needed to hook up to trailers, so it’s not a Tesla component.
So what about range? Range has been the biggest limiting factor with EVs. The Tesla officials talk about 500 miles per charge or 11 hours of use, but that’s probably a best-case scenario. The Tesla Semi will rely on the charging network rather than onboard storage to drive longer routes, which means the adoption of these electric trucks will depend on Tesla’s network of chargers.
The party trick of the Tesla Semi is being effortlessly easy to drive. There’s none of that complicated shifting that goes with a semi. Visibility is great thanks to cameras and screens, and the truck automatically adjusts its power to the load you’re pulling. Jay found the Tesla Semi to be intuitive and smart, making it easy to pull a 60,000-pound load containing another Semi.