Tesla’s Three-punch Smack­down

Premier Magazine (South AFrica) - - Contents - Text: Wil­helm Loots Im­ages © Tesla

There is noth­ing as pow­er­ful as an idea whose time has come. For the mo­tor in­dus­try, that idea is elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, and Tesla is its big­gest pro­po­nent.

With the un­veil­ing of the Tesla Model 3 in July and both the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion Tesla Road­ster and Tesla Semi Truck in No­vem­ber this year, Tesla has stunned the world. The un­veil­ing of these three mod­els has all but re­moved any doubt that the elec­tric ve­hi­cle is the fu­ture. That fu­ture is now, and its im­pact on the world will be as sig­nif­i­cant and dis­rup­tive as the dis­place­ment of the horse by the au­to­mo­bile more than a cen­tury ago. En­ter the Model 3

De­signed and built as the first truly mass-mar­ket Elec­tric Ve­hi­cle (EV) in the world and start­ing at $35,000, the new Tesla Model 3 takes the fight to its clos­est In­ter­nal Com­bus­tion En­gine (ICE) ri­vals with equal or bet­ter per­for­mance, su­pe­rior lev­els of safety, and avant-garde de­sign that in­cor­po­rates some truly fu­tur­is­tic fea­tures, in­clud­ing En­hanced Au­topi­lot (with full self-driv­ing ca­pa­bil­ity) and over­the-air main­te­nance and soft­ware up­dates. Fit­ted with a high-ef­fi­ciency elec­tric mo­tor and bat­tery pack, the Model 3 ac­cel­er­ates from 0-100 km/h in as lit­tle as 5.1 sec­onds and boasts a top speed of up to 225 km/h. Add to this a max­i­mum elec­tric range of 537 km, com­bined with the ease of charg­ing at home, and you have your­self the em­bod­i­ment of an idea that is ready to change the world.

With more than 500,000 pre-or­ders for the Model 3 when it was re­leased on 7 July 2017 – with­out any ad­ver­tis­ing – it would seem as if the masses are ready to em­brace the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion rev­o­lu­tion as much as they em­braced the smart­phone rev­o­lu­tion. En­ter the Road­ster

Tra­di­tion­ally, su­per­cars have been about speed and per­for­mance first, lux­ury and safety sec­ond, and con­nec­tiv­ity and in­fo­tain­ment a mere af­ter­thought – no­body pays $3.4 mil­lion for a Bu­gatti Ch­i­ron be­cause it has cross-stitched leather seats and a plush fin­ish. The Bu­gatti Ch­i­ron de­mands a pre­mium price be­cause it is the fastest series pro­duc­tion car in the world. Well, it used to be un­til Tesla un­veiled their sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion, all-elec­tric Road­ster.

Set for re­lease in 2020, ac­cord­ing to Elon Musk, the charis­matic CEO of Tesla, the new Tesla Road­ster will be the fastest series pro­duc­tion car ever. The base model will ac­cel­er­ate from 0-100 km/h in 1.9 sec­onds, from 0-160 km/h in 4.2 sec­onds, and run the quar­ter mile in 8.9 sec­onds on its way to a top speed of “more than 400 km/h”. Wheel torque will be an as­tound­ing 10,000 Nm.

These per­for­mance fig­ures are vir­tu­ally the same as that of a modern F1 hy­brid and, to add in­sult to in­jury, this beau­ti­ful open­top four-seater will have an elec­tric range of more than 1,000 km “at high­way speeds”. To top it all, the new Tesla Road­ster will set you back a mere $200,000. That is just slightly more than five per­cent the price of a Bu­gatti Ch­i­ron which, com­pared to the Tesla Road­ster, ac­cel­er­ates from 0-100 km/h in a rather pedes­trian 2.4 sec­onds.

If Tesla’s in­ten­tion with the Road­ster was “to give a big smack­down to gaso­line cars”, as Musk said dur­ing the big un­veil, then Tesla de­liv­ered a knock­out on three counts: per­for­mance, range, and pric­ing. In fact, more than just a tech­no­log­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion, the Tesla Road­ster rep­re­sents an eco­nomic rev­o­lu­tion that is bound to dis­rupt the ICE man­u­fac­tur­ers in gen­eral and the over­priced su­per­car in­dus­try in par­tic­u­lar.

The re­al­ity is that the Tesla Road­ster brings su­per­car per­for­mance within reach of the mid­dle­class, and no longer re­stricts it to the su­per rich. The idea of Vic­tor Hugo to have free­dom, equal­ity, and fra­ter­nity just got a sec­ond breath.

En­ter the Semi

The new Tesla Semi, set for re­lease in 2019, re­sem­bles a sleek and aero­dy­namic ve­hi­cle straight out of the lat­est Trans­form­ers movie. No sur­prise

With the Tesla Model 3 now in pro­duc­tion, al­beit at a slower rate of pro­duc­tion than what Tesla had pre­dicted, it se­ri­ously threat­ens to dis­rupt not just a se­lect few com­peti­tor mod­els, but en­tire seg­ments.

then that its drag co­ef­fi­cient of 0.36, com­pared to 0.38 for a Bu­gatti Ch­i­ron, is unprecedented for a truck.

While its over­all ap­pear­ance is aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing, the Tesla Semi rep­re­sents a whole­sale de­par­ture from tra­di­tional truck de­sign as lum­ber­ing lumps of steel, diesel, and grease. The cabin is de­signed around the driver with the driver seat cen­tred in the front of the cab with a re­mov­able pas­sen­ger jump seat off­set and be­hind the driver seat. Two touch­screens, po­si­tioned on ei­ther side of the driver, of­fer nav­i­ga­tion in­for­ma­tion, blind spot mon­i­tor­ing, ve­hi­cle data, trip data, fleet man­age­ment, rout­ing ap­pli­ca­tions, en­ter­tain­ment, and more.

With four in­de­pen­dent elec­tric mo­tors that drive the rear axles, the Tesla Semi ac­cel­er­ates from 0-100 km/h in just five sec­onds, which is quicker than a Golf GTI, and when tow­ing a fully loaded 36-ton trailer, it ac­cel­er­ates from 0-100 km/h in just 20 sec­onds, which is three times quicker than any diesel truck. Even on a five per­cent in­cline, the Tesla Semi will main­tain a speed of 105 km/h, which would be a boon for traf­fic con­ges­tion caused by diesel trucks that slow down to a crawl on the slight­est of in­clines.

With an elec­tric range of 800 km at high­way speed, the Tesla Semi can com­fort­ably com­plete re­turn trips within a 400 km ra­dius on a sin­gle charge, es­pe­cially since 80% of all cargo de­liv­ery trips are less than 400 km. Com­pli­ments of Tesla’s new Me­gacharger, 650 km of range can be added in just 30 min­utes, and un­like diesel trucks it can be charged while un­load­ing.

The real ad­van­tage of its elec­tric drive is that the Tesla Semi ren­ders gear­boxes and dif­fer­en­tials ob­so­lete, and its re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing pro­vides for nearly in­fi­nite brake pad life. Com­pared to thou­sands of mov­ing parts in a diesel en­gine, an elec­tric mo­tor has only one mov­ing part. As a re­sult, main­te­nance cost is re­duced by an or­der of mag­ni­tude, and so much so that Tesla pro­vides a 1.6 mil­lion km guar­an­tee on the driv­e­train.

While the Tesla Semi com­fort­ably out­per­forms its diesel ri­vals in terms of re­spon­sive­ness, han­dling, and safety, cru­cially, the com­puter-as­sisted elec­tric mo­tors pro­vide next-level trac­tion con­trol and brak­ing that pre­vent the Semi from jack-knif­ing un­der any con­di­tions. The Tesla Semi comes stan­dard with En­hanced Au­topi­lot, which will al­low for safe de­ploy­ment in semi-au­to­mated con­voys on high­ways, thus ex­tend­ing range and re­duc­ing op­er­at­ing costs.

While Tesla has given only an “ex­pected price” of $150,000 and $180,000 for the 300-mile and 500-mile range ver­sions re­spec­tively, Musk pointed out that to­tal cost of own­er­ship will be 20% less than that of diesel trucks, and up to 50% less when op­er­ated in a semi-au­ton­o­mous con­voy. For­mula for Dis­rup­tion

With the Tesla Model 3 now in pro­duc­tion, al­beit at a slower rate of pro­duc­tion than what Tesla had pre­dicted, it se­ri­ously threat­ens to dis­rupt not just a se­lect few com­peti­tor mod­els, but en­tire seg­ments, es­pe­cially in the United States where about half of all Tesla mod­els are sold.

The Tesla Semi, be­ing a more ex­pen­sive op­tion within its sec­tor, will more than likely fol­low a path sim­i­lar to that of the Tesla Model S, with pro­duc­tion ramped up over sev­eral years, while first fo­cus­ing on the top end of a mar­ket that tends to be bet­ter in­cen­tivised to adopt re­new­able en­ergy so­lu­tions.

The real game changer will be the Tesla Road­ster as it blows away the com­pe­ti­tion on both per­for­mance and price in a mar­ket seg­ment that Tesla “owns”.

For the sake of the fu­ture of hu­man­ity, we should all hope that Tesla’s pro­duc­tion hell would turn into heaven soon. Here is to the in­no­va­tive com­pany and the coura­geous man who be­lieve that they can change the world for the bet­ter, one zero-emis­sions ve­hi­cle at a time.

With an elec­tric range of 800 km at high­way speed, the Tesla Semi can com­fort­ably com­plete re­turn trips within a 400 km ra­dius on a sin­gle charge

0-100 km/h: 1.9 sec­onds, 0-160 km/h: 4.2 sec­onds Quar­ter mile: 8.9 sec­onds, Top speed: 400 km/h plus

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