Tesla unveils electric big rig prototype

- Tesla unveiled a prototype of its much-anticipated electric big rig Thursday night in Hawthorne, which is being envisioned as a potentially revolutionary advancement for an industry long criticized for its air-polluting vehicles.

Tesla claims the Tesla Semi "will deliver a far better experience for truck drivers, while increasing safety and significantly reducing the cost of cargo transport.''

The Tesla Semi can go from 0 to 60 mph in five seconds without a trailer, compared to 15 seconds in a comparable diesel truck, according to publicity materials supplied by the company.

The Tesla Semi can go from 0 to 60 mph in 20 seconds with a full 80,000- pound load, a task that takes a diesel truck about a minute. It can climb a 5 percent grade at a steady 65 mph, whereas a diesel truck can't go faster than 45 mph, according to Tesla.

Tesla claims the Semi will consume less than two kilowatt hours of energy per mile and is capable of traveling 500 miles at highway speed.

Megachargers, a new high-speed DC charging solution, will add about 400 miles in 30 minutes and can be installed at origin or destination points and along heavily trafficked routes, enabling recharging during loading, unloading and driver breaks.

The Semi's cabin is designed specifically around the driver, featuring unobstructed stairs for easier entry and exit, full standing room inside, and a centered driver position for optimal visibility.

Two touchscreen displays positioned symmetrically on both sides of the driver provide easy access to navigation, blind spot monitoring and electronic data logging. Built-in connectivity integrates directly with a fleet's management system to support routing and scheduling and remote monitoring.

Reservations for the Tesla Semi can be made for $5,000. Production is scheduled to begin in 2019.

The unveiling of the Semi was delayed twice, with Tesla founder Elon Musk explaining last month that the latest delay was due to the company "diverting resources'' to cope with "bottlenecks'' in production of the company's Model 3 electric car, and to focus on efforts to provide a solar power array for hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico.

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