Tesla Semi Images Hint at Huge Charging Demands That Surpass Regular EVs

The Tesla Semi is on the move. Just hours after a YouTube video emerged of the upcoming all-electric truck, more photos have been uploaded as a prototype version of the vehicle makes its way across the United States. Details from its latest appearance suggest the vehicle is one power-hungry beast.

The truck was spotted by YouTube user “StevenMConroy” on November 2 en route to San Francisco. Reddit user “Jace11” spotted the same truck earlier in the day at noon, and noted some interesting tidbits about the truck and its operation alongside new images. The user spotted that the operators had to detach the freight to get it to charge. It took up three spots at the supercharger, plugging them all together into a hub detached from the truck cabin, which ran a wire from the hub into the cabin somewhere. The operators used what appeared to be giant black extension cords to run the cables into the hub.

The hub plug-in suggests the Semi will require a large amount of power to reach up to 500 miles on a single charge, with an estimated 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of 20 seconds with an 80,000 pound load. Tesla’s network of superchargers are designed to charge the Model S, X and 3 to around 80 percent capacity in around half an hour by providing 120 kilowatts of power. Tesla is aiming for a similar charge time for the Semi, but the use of a hub suggests this is going to require a much stronger charger. When the Semi crossed the country back in August, CEO Elon Musk said the company was using around 1,000 feet worth of extension cords.

Tesla has announced a network of “megachargers,” placed every 400 miles in the United States, which will use the Semi’s larger port to charge up the vehicle using solar panels in around half an hour. It’s unclear how much power these “megachargers” will provide, though. Teslarati analysis in partnership with YouTube channel “KManAuto,” who got an up-close look at the charging port, suggested the chargers could send up to 1.6 megawatts through the port. This is based on the fact that the eight-pin design suggests four supercharger-like connectors placed together, and that Tesla’s website claims the truck will use less than two kilowatt-hours per mile, equating to 800 kilowatt-hours every 400 miles, which would mean reaching 1.6 megawatts to charge that much in 30 minutes.

Of course, this is based on prototype plugs and pre-release details. One thing’s for sure, based on these real-world test runs: the Semi is going to require a ton of power.