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Unveiling the Tesla Semi: Real-World Performance

Information is finally emerging regarding the Tesla Semi truck, with a particular focus on a demonstration named “Run on Less.” This initiative, conducted by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE), assesses the real-world performance of new electric trucks, with a spotlight on three of PepsiCo’s Tesla Semi vehicles.

As the data gradually unfolds on the demonstration’s dedicated website, where electric trucks are compared based on various efficiency metrics, the Tesla Semi is showing promising results. However, whether these results are strong enough to disrupt the formidable trucking industry remains uncertain.

According to data from the initial day of this independent study, these electric freight trucks managed a maximum total travel distance of 545 miles, with 377 miles covered on a single charge. The performance is noteworthy but has nuances. While it falls short of the 500-mile single-charge claim made by Tesla at the end of 2022, it significantly surpasses the closest competitor, the eCascadia fleet operated by California’s OK Produce, which achieved only 248 miles on its inaugural charge. In comparison, a conventional diesel-powered semi-truck may have a range of up to 1,000 miles per tank, depending on factors like load and fuel capacity. Nevertheless, using a full tank of diesel results in substantial CO2 emissions, which electric vehicles aim to mitigate.

These results highlight both accomplishments and areas of concern. Notably, the first-day data for all three of PepsiCo’s Tesla Semis indicates a relatively rapid depletion of battery capacity as mileage accumulates. However, insights from the second day of readings suggest that a more conservative and steady driving approach can yield better battery performance.

Dave Mullaney from the sustainability organization Rocky Mountain Institute, a co-sponsor of the Run on Less events with NACFE, commented on the Tesla Semis’ first-day performance on LinkedIn. He acknowledged the positive headline but also emphasized the existence of caveats, such as undisclosed load weights and favorable weather conditions with low winds.

Additionally, there is an overarching takeaway from this data: it suggests that, in this instance, Elon Musk’s optimism about the viability of electric trucks may have been more accurate than Bill Gates’ skepticism.



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