The Tesla Semi, with its promises of exceptional range and unrivaled power, had everything to be a revolution in freight transportation. However, the reality on the roads seems to differ from the optimistic scenarios presented by Tesla.
When it was announced in 2017, the Tesla Semi promised to revolutionize road transportation with a range of up to 800 km and impressive performance: 0 to 100 km/h in just 5 seconds, all accompanied by semi-driving capabilities. autonomous.
At the end of 2022, the first copies were officially handed over to their new owners. These are the companies Pepsi and Frito Lay, subsidiaries of the American group PepsiCo which notably owns Lay’s chips as well as the Doritos and Cheetos brands.
A lot of problems
However, according to recent testimony from a Pepsico employee, these promises seem to be far from reality. The first Tesla Semis, delivered at the end of 2022 in the United States, never reached the announced range of 800 km. The employee quotes around 640 km, certainly a notable performance, but lower than initial expectations. This discrepancy raises questions about the methods of calculating autonomy, it is a classic subject when we talk about electric vehicles. Typically, semi-trailers use expressways for long journeys, which contrasts with the methods used to calculate their range.
Another critical point raised concerns the reliability of the vehicle. Regular battery and motor failures have been reported, requiring the direct intervention of Tesla engineers.
The use of automotive components in the Tesla Semi, including a double wishbone suspension and a three-motor system from the Model S Plaid, has apparently been at the center of these problems. Moreover, these parts, designed for lighter vehicles, would prove unsuitable for the requirements of heavy commercial transport.
A space on board that divides
Despite these challenges, there are positive aspects. Pepsico drivers have described Tesla tractor-trailers as comfortable and easy to use. Rapid adaptation to the vehicle, maneuverability, and quiet and smooth driving are assets highlighted in several studies. However, criticism has been expressed regarding the layout of the cabin: poorly optimized space, reduced visibility, difficulties for interactions at borders and tolls, and a layout that does not promote cleanliness.
As a reminder, the design of the Tesla Semi is quite special: the driver sits in the middle, with two touch screens on each side. The windows are unbreakable, which is a good thing. But this design is not all positive. For example, the doors at the rear of the cabin take up too much space and make it impossible to install a bed for long trips.
With only 90 vehicles produced to date, it remains to be seen how Tesla will adapt its strategies to overcome technical challenges and meet the needs of its customers and future customers, which include industry giants such as UPS, DHL, FedEx or even Walmart.