Updated: May 16
The Tesla Semi is no longer a myth, it is a real product from the stable of Tesla. While its release is imminent, many details are out already, including some that will blow your mind and can be found at www.Tesla.com/semi
A quick recap of what we know so far about the Tesla Semi. The electric rig is going to come in two trims with 300 Mile and 500 Mile ranges. Cost is pegged at $150,000 and $180,000 respectively. Production is expected to start in 2023 and there have been many public sightings of the trucks being moved around for testing. The Semi will have an acceleration from 0-60 miles under 20s on a full load, thanks to the four motors located on the rear axles.
The Tesla semi is said to get 500 miles of range on a single charge and only require 30 minute quick charge for an additional 400 miles. This far exceeds the competition.
Convoy Mode is simply going to change the game for fleet operators!
What is the Convoy Mode? When the mode is active, several Semis will travel together, the rest following the lead of the first one. As simple as it sounds, this tech fixes a lot of problems and enables maximum efficiency.
Semi-trucks will communicate with one another in real time via the internet, without the need for a physical connection, and act as a single rig.
Why are we excited about it?
More accurately, this is battery efficiency. When a convoy of Semis cruise down the highway, the physics kicks in. The first truck moves the air out of the way and the rest of the Semis have an easy job gliding along in the slipstream. This results in savings in battery for each of the trucks, netting them extra Miles on top of their normal range. This is another win for the cost-per mile.
Truck convoys are not a new thing, even diesel-powered trucks do it sometimes, moving grill to bumper and making a lot of noise. It is no secret that the Semis, with added technology, are going to do it safer and with no noise. The human driver is prone to error and fatigue, which simply does not plague autonomous driving tech.
Another real world application is where the drivers in the convoy take turns being the lead driver. The truck drivers can simply rest in their cabins until it is their turn. This means a pair (or more) of drivers can keep a convoy going for as long as possible and still not run afoul of regulatory laws. This will no doubt reduce collisions per million miles as the drivers will be more alert. It will also cut down on delivery time, the dream of any fleet operator.
The Corporate Angle on CDL drivers
Every truck belting down American roads today requires a human driver, which comes at a cost to fleet operators. The biggest headache is the shortage of drivers. The ATA estimates that the American trucking industry needs extra 63,000 pairs of hands. The shortage is expected to grow as new drivers simply aren’t choosing trucking as a career. Combine that with the fact that the industry has an annual churn rate of 94% for drivers and you begin to understand the nightmare of fleet managers.
Next is the compensation for the drivers. They get paid because it is not a hobby. They also get benefits. These emoluments continue to rise as companies struggle to retain experienced drivers. For a recent five year period, driver wages rose by 33.6%, increasing the cost-per-mile.
Strike actions, HR issues, driver liabilities are the realities of the business.
A convoy will only need a driver in the lead truck. The rest will follow faithfully. This promises to be a massive saving and drive down the cost-per-mile, the most crucial metric in the trucking business.
There are many scenarios where the cost of operation comes down with Convoy Mode. Crew members could drive Semis up to assembly points where the trucks form convoys and proceed to their destinations. The crew members simply return home.
And when full autonomous driving is finally here, which Tesla is rapidly approaching as evident in their other models, you could have Semis pulling out of the convoy on their scheduled highway exits to make deliveries on their own. They can wait to rejoin the convoy for the return leg.