Archive for the ‘trucks’ Category

Is a 200-300 mile range enough for Tesla to break into electric trucking?

August 26th, 2017

Enlarge / From the bureau of Transportation Statistics: “Long-haul freight truck traffic in the United States is concentrated on major routes connecting population centers, ports, border crossings, and other major hubs of activity. Except for Route 99 in California and a few toll roads and border connections, most of the heaviest traveled routes are on the Interstate System.” (credit: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration)

On Thursday, Reuters reported that Tesla is building electric semis with ranges of 200-300 miles. Tesla has said it will make all details about the semis public at an announcement in September.

Ars reached out to the company to confirm the report, and a spokesperson responded with a statement saying: “Tesla’s policy is to always decline to comment on speculation, whether true or untrue, as doing so would be silly.”

So if the report is true, would a truck with a range of 200-300 miles be enough to win entry into the freight trucking market? Possibly. A 2013 report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado notes that “trucks dominate the market today for freight shipments under 500 miles, which account for almost 80 percent of all domestic freight tonnage.” Freight that needs to travel 500 miles or more tends to be transported by rail, waterways, or pipeline, at least if you’re counting by tonnage (the Bureau of Transportation Statistics counts oil and gas pipeline deliveries as freight).

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Tesla’s electric semi will be revealed in September, CEO says

April 13th, 2017

Tesla wants to turn internal combustion trucks electric. (credit: Mark Goebel)

Last year, Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk wrote an updated version of his 2006 “Master Plan” that predicated the growth of the electric vehicle company. The “Master Plan Part Deux” detailed the company’s ambitions to build a Tesla Semi, which Musk said at the time “should be ready for unveiling next year.”

Now, right on time, Musk tweeted out an update this afternoon: “Tesla Semi truck unveil set for September. Team has done an amazing job. Seriously next level.”

The CEO added in subsequent replies that the next-generation Roadster would be a convertible and that details on a Tesla pickup truck would be revealed in “18 to 24 months.” Ars reached out to Tesla, which said there were no other details to share at this time besides what was in Musk’s tweets.

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Freightliner unveils the first road-legal self-driving truck

May 6th, 2015

Last night, on the Hoover Dam, Freightliner (which is owned by automotive giant Daimler) unveiled the first road-legal self-driving truck. At the event last night, the Inspiration Truck (yes really) was awarded an official autonomous vehicle license plate by the governor of Nevada. Sadly, there was no mention of pricing or commercial availability—but it won’t be particularly soon. The license plate is a step towards lots more testing on the roads of Nevada… and then we’ll see what federal regulators think about fleets of self-driving trucks.

The lorry has the same “NHTSA Level 3” rating as Google’s self-driving car, which means that it’s fully autonomous, but that the driver still has to be able to take over “with sufficiently comfortable transition time” if the need arises. In this case, while the Inspiration Truck could drive itself for hundreds of miles without driver intervention, Daimler is framing this as a conversation around driver fatigue. According to Daimler, 90 percent of truck crashes are due to driver error, and driver fatigue plays a role in 1/8th of those crashes.

Wolfgang Bernhard, head of Daimler’s truck company, said at the event last night that the company tested driver brain activity with and without the autonomous driving system enabled. With the system turned on, “driver drowsiness decreases by about 25 percent.”

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