Elon Musk’s pitch for transforming the hissing, fume-spewing trucks of today into fully-electric silent rigs is the Tesla Semi. While the automotive company’s lineup of cars is more widely known as a play to bring electric vehicles to a mass consumer market, the Semi will attempt to do the same for the commercial transportation sector.

While it hasn’t yet been formally released, we have gotten a handful of glimpses of Tesla’s heralded semi-truck cruising down a California highway or parked at a Supercharger, or visiting the offices of some of its biggest corporate buyers like UPS.

That said, the Semi has impressed so far, and assuming it can keep up with the groundswell of pre-orders then you should expect to see fleets of the vehicles riding down interstates, transporting Amazon packages, and hauling supplies to restaurants and retailers relatively soon.

Since its November 2017 unveiling, the Semi has turned the heads of major companies who have pre-ordered their own convoy of the electric trucks. With these early wins in the bag, the Tesla Semi has its foot in the door of the trucking industry. Here’s what it will take to truly make its mark on the shipping industry.


When Will Tesla Semis Be Delivered?

Upon their announcement, Musk said pre-orders would be delivered in 2019 but that’s there’s reason to think that timeline is already a tad unrealistic. While prototypes have been spotted multiple times, we’ll likely have to wait another year or two before they truly hit the streets.

Certain reservation holders are reportedly expecting deliveries in 2020, a year after Musk’s optimistic estimate.

How Much Does a Tesla Semi Cost?

Musk claimed that the Tesla Semi “rides like a sports car,” well it costs like one too.

The electric cargo-haulers will come in two variants one with a 300-mile range starting at $150,000 and the other with a 500-mile range for $180,000 plus a $20,000 base reservation fee for each vehicle. That’s not terrible, but still more than the cost of your average fossil-fuel burning semi truck, which usually goes for between $80,000 and $150,000.

What Companies Have Reserved Tesla Semis?

Since November 2017, UPS has reserved 125, PepsiCo will pick up 100, restaurant supplier Sysco is taking 50, Walmart has secured 45, and transportation company J.B. Hunt that has reportedly ordered 40.

The Tesla Semi truck.
Is it a big rig or a spaceship?

This means that, when you factor in likely smaller orders, Tesla probably has somewhere in the ballpark of 300 and 400 Semis pre-orders in the bank, though the company has not released an official tally of the total number.

What Can the Tesla Semi Do?

We haven’t really received any updates on features, but Musk was not shy about flexing the truck’s future capabilities during its launch.

The tech mogul said, for example, that it would be able to go from 0 to 60 in five seconds, it’ll come with an advanced autopilot feature that will guard against jackknifing, and the driver seat will be located in the center of the cab, like some kind of space pod.

“You’re positioned like you’re in a race car,” said Musk. “You have complete visibility of the road and all your surroundings.”

But its most astounding feature is its range. Both Tesla Semi variants are supposed to be able to drive hundreds of miles before they need to juice up again, making deliveries quicker and more effective than fossil fuel rigs that require frequent pitstops.

What Is the Megacharger and When Could They Be Ready?

To power these electric beasts, Musk plans to develop an improved version of the Supercharger network that he hopes will one day connect far-flung Teslas. These so called Megachargers will be able to power up a Semi in just half an hour.

In order to achieve this, the Megachargers will likely see at least 1 MW of power, per a Teslerati report, the equivalent of plugging in four conventional Superchargers. But of course, building these Megachargers, which are also to be solar-powered will be a challenge.

To streamline the process, Reuters reported back in February that Tesla plans to partner with the companies who have made pre-orders thus far, working in tandem with them to build Megachargers that are in their own facilities. That would cut down on the costs, but it could still be a while before we start to see Megachargers dotting pit stops.

Photos via Tesla