After releasing news about the latest upgrades to its electric vehicle models, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has said that the company will begin producing its first electric pick-up truck once it finishes the production of the Model Y SUV, planned to begin in late 2019 or early 2020.
Even though production of the electric pick-up will not begin until several more years, an initial prototype of the vehicle might be revealed already next year, typical for Tesla’s production. Back in April, Musk stated that the company will reveal the pick-up truck in 18 to 24 months, meaning it could introduce it to the public anytime between October 2018 and April 2019.
According to Musk, the truck would be slightly larger than an F150 and it may have a ‘game-changing’ feature. However, he did not provide additional details, implying that customers and fans will have to wait until next year.
Musk has been planning to build a pick-up truck for a longer time, reporting his intentions to the media as early as 2013. In 2016, in his Master Plan Part Deux, he stated intentions to build pick-ups, alongside other vehicles to address all market segments.
Tesla has already began building new models for other market segments, as the company released its first electric semi-truck for commercial use, earlier in November. The Tesla Semi has a unique design, compared to other trucks available for purchase. The truck can go from 0 to 60 mph, without a trailer attached, in just 5 seconds, which is faster than standard diesel trucks. The same speed with a maximum load of 80,000 lbs can be reached in only 20 seconds. It can also go 65 mph up a 5 percent grade, much better in comparison to the 45 mph of a diesel vehicle. The Semi can travel 500 miles at highway speed, per charge, with 80% of the trips at 250 miles.
Another advanced feature of the Semi is the omission of gear shifting, with regenerative braking that provides “basically infinite” brake life per vehicle. The truck has better responsiveness and handling, larger mileage and safer operations in regular traffic.
Its distinct design includes tailor-made cabins for drivers, making it easier to get in and out, as well as stand when inside. The truck has a removable jump seat for a passenger, placed behind the main driver position. While the current version is a day truck without a sleeper cabin, designed for short trips, future models could include a cabin with an extension of the battery. In addition, the interior has two touchscreens positioned on both sides of the driver providing navigation information, blind spot monitoring and trip data logging applications.
The Semi has advanced safety features, with a special battery design that reinforces the battery units. Its special batteries are charged at solar-powered Megachargers, and can get 400 miles of range on a single 30 minute charge. The company plans to install the Megachargers in various locations worldwide to enable undisrupted movement from one place to another.
It has a windshield built of glass that can resist impacts, while the truck can avoid jackknifing. Moreover, surround view cameras are used to eliminate blind spots, help to support object detection and provide automatic alerts to the driver in an instance of a hazard. The Semi also contains a built in Enhanced Autopilot, which enables automated emergency braking, lane keeping and departure warnings to ensure safe highway driving.
The newest freight vehicle will likely face competitive pressure from companies producing diesel trucks, as well as competitors like Nikola, developing a hybrid hydrogen powered electric power train with Bosch, and Daimler, building a Mitsubishi E-FUSO fully electric Vision One truck. In order to scale, Tesla will have to convince customers of the benefits of using an electric truck. Despite the higher price of electric vehicles, the Semi could potentially create savings for customers in the long run.
Luckily for the company, there have already been several orders from high profile companies with well established international brands. Recently, UPS placed a major pre-order of 125 Semi trucks, in accordance with their move towards more environmentally friendly alternatives. PepsiCo also pre-ordered 100 Tesla Semis.
The additional features of the truck, unique design, enhanced safety and autonomous driving capabilities are expected to continue attracting environmentally conscious companies. Thus, Tesla’s strategic move towards vehicles targeting other market segments, such as electric and potentially autonomous trucks and pick-ups, makes the company well positioned to redefine an entire industry.