Tesla has been teasing the release of their all-electric semi for months now so it’s no surprise that they reached out to both the California and Nevada DOTs to start testing their truck on public roads. But a new report from Reuters claims that the new Tesla truck is not only all-electric, it is also going to have self-driving capabilities.
Set for an unveiling in September, the Tesla truck has been teased since April but no specifications have been released. Up until the Reuters report, there was no indication that the Tesla truck would have any autonomous capabilities.
Reuters claims to have seen emails between Tesla employees and Nevada and California DMV officials. Based off of those emails, it seems that the truck is 100% electric, with self-driving and platooning capabilities, designed for long-haul applications.
Conventional wisdom currently says that electric vehicles are not suitable for long-haul trucking since the range on current electric vehicles, charging times, and availability of EV infrastructure are all roadblocks to widespread implementation. Tesla, it’s founder Elon Musk, and Musk’s other companies like SpaceX are known for challenging conventional wisdom however.
Tesla representatives met with California state highway administrators on Wednesday and Nevada DOT officials back in June. In setting up the meeting in Nevada, Tesla wrote in an email that “our primary goal is the ability to operate our prototype test trucks in a continuous manner across the state line and within the States of Nevada and California in a platooning and/or Autonomous mode without having a person in the vehicle.”
It is not clear whether Tesla pushed the same agenda in Wednesday’s meeting in California. A California Department of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman wrote in an email to Reuters that “no one can test ‘autonomous’ trucks in California at this time,” but neither California nor Nevada have commented specifically on their meetings with Tesla.
If Tesla has or is still trying to get permission to test “trucks in a continuous manner across the state line… in a platooning and/or Autonomous mode without having a person in the vehicle,” that could mean that a driver would be needed in the lead truck but not in any of the follow trucks, it could mean that there might be a driver in each truck but only the one in the lead would need to be in control, or it could mean that no drivers will be needed in any of the trucks.
Unfortunately, given Tesla’s silence on the subject, it looks like we’ll have to wait until the truck unveiling in September to know for sure.
Image source: Tesla