Tesla has shared a video of an all-electric Semi cab prototype being put through its paces at the Fremont test track, in a Tweet that shows while battery material supply may be holding production back, the electric truck is still very much front of mind for the EV maker.
The brief video shows the white-clad Class 8 prototype speeding past the camera with the typical high-pitched sounds that, apart from its zero-emissions status, sets it apart from its diesel counterparts.
Semi on the track pic.twitter.com/0QCTYGbLJv
— Tesla (@Tesla) March 14, 2021
After light passenger vehicles, heavy-duty vehicles account for the largest portion of transport-related emissions (around a quarter in the US and Australia) and thus the decarbonisation of the industry is important.
But big trucks need big batteries, and a global shortage of nickel, a material that helps increase battery energy density, is expected to stymie battery production.
At the EV maker’s Battery Day in September, Tesla boss Elon Musk said that Semi production is being held back because Tesla is prioritising batteries to passenger cars.
To that end, Tesla recently cut a deal with New Caledonia and its Brazilian partner Vale to become a technical partner in its Goro nickel mine to secure long-term supply for lithium-ion batteries.
The video of the Tesla Semi, which has been seen in operation on multiple occasions including delivering a Tesla Model 3 to a family in this Tesla tweet from 2019, has also raised the spectre of the now notorious video shared by hydrogen truck start-up Nikola Motor of its Nikola One supposedly in action.
Behold, the Nikola One in motion. Pre-production units to hit fleets in 2019 for testing. The Nikola Hydrogen Electric trucks will take on any semi-truck and outperform them in every category; weight, acceleration, stopping, safety and features – all with 500-1,000 mile range! pic.twitter.com/K53FdYaZ34
— Nikola Motor Company (@nikolamotor) January 25, 2018
Nikola later admitted that the video was staged, and the camera tilted to make the truck, which was coasting downhill, look like it was moving under its own power. The scandal saw Nikola CEO Trevor Milton step down and the company’s stock values, which had recently soared after the Nikola Badger hydrogen ute was revealed, topple. A deal with GM to make the Badger was also downgraded as a result of the scandal.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.