Tesla’s Three-punch Smackdown
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