A lot has been made of Tesla's next upcoming model for consumers, the Model Y SUV. Only, it turns out it may not be the next model that goes on sale.
Another Tesla just opened for reservations, four days before the company is scheduled to open orders for the Model Y: the Tesla Semi truck.
The company has been testing the Semi since late 2017, and it has been spotted all over the Western half of the U.S., parked at warehouses, climbing grades, and charging at Superchargers (where it takes up a whole bank of chargers to use multiple cords at once.)
On Sunday a new reservation page went live on Tesla.com for truckers to put down a deposit for the Semi. While Tesla has been famous for taking $1,000 reservations before many of its cars are built. Making a reservation for the Semi will be significantly more expensive, starting at $20,000 for an ordinary reservation.
Buyers who want to jump to the head of the line and get a special Founders Series will have to pay the full $200,000 price of the reservation up front, similar to buyers who have made reservations for Tesla's other upcoming model, the new Roadster.
Ordinary Tesla Semis will start at $150,000 for a truck with 300 miles of range, or $180,000 for an extended range model with 500 miles of range.
Tesla quotes estimated efficiency of 2 kilowatt-hours per mile, which would give the Semi a base battery pack size of 600 kwh, or 1 mega-watt hour for the longer-range version. That would give the Tesla 16.85 mpg-equivalent, well more than twice the efficiency of an ordinary semi. Tesla bases all the estimated specs on its site on a loaded Semi, since that's how drives plan to use them.
The Semi will use four independent motors on the two rear drive axles, which Tesla says can deliver acceleration from 0-60 mph in 20 secondsâ€”not impressive for a car, maybe, but very good for a semi-truck. Tesla says it can sustain 60 mph up a 5 percent grade, also loaded.
Tesla did not give any estimated delivery date for customers who order a Semi, and the company faces competition from startup Nikola, which is developing electric and fuel-cell powered semis, as well as from established truckmakers such as Daimler, Volvo, truckmakers and PACCAR, which builds Peterbilts and Kenworths.
Beyond the reservation page, Tesla has orders for the Semi from some big-name companies such as Walmart, UPS, DHL, and Pepsi. At the 2017 event revealing the Semi, Tesla targeted deliveries in 2020 with some pre-orders arriving in 2019. The new page reveals no further formal update from Tesla on the product.
Tesla has been known for opening reservations for exciting and expensive new products when it needs cash, essentially getting free loans from its customers to develop future vehicles. If nothing else, though, opening reservations implies some commitment to actually building the new Semi. That potentially puts it ahead of the long-discussed Tesla Pickup, for example.