By George Harvey
Readers of Green Energy Times will probably recall an article that appeared on the front page of the October issue, “New Tesla Semi-Truck” (http://bit.ly/GET-Tesla-semi). We had expected to go to press with an article on the new Tesla truck, which was scheduled to be unveiled just before our press deadlines. But, as the article explained, our plans had to change.
Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, had decided to go in an entirely different direction. Instead of unveiling its new truck as planned, he announced that Tesla was putting its efforts into recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, which had been devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The truck unveiling would be put off until November.
By the time that announcement was made, things were already hectic for Musk. He had promised months before that he could install the largest battery ever built and connect it to the South Australian power grid within 100 days from the time the grid interconnection contract was signed, or it would cost the state nothing. And that contract had been signed, so the time had come to move on the promise or lose a lot of money. But it was signed just days before Hurricane Irma hit Puerto Rico.
With Irma, soon followed by the more destructive Maria, Puerto Rico needed heroic efforts. There was plenty of work to be done, and the pace was intense. An early sign of success for Tesla came on October 24, when Musk sent out an Instagram post saying that Tesla had just provided power to Hospital del Niño, a children’s hospital with 3,000 patients, in San Juan. That installation, including 700 solar panels and battery backup, was completed in a couple of weeks. And Musk said the installation would be just the “first of many” such projects.
Meanwhile, Tesla had to continue working hard on what looked to be a daunting deadline in South Australia. The monster battery, the Hornsdale Power Reserve, would have a power capacity of 100 megawatts and a storage capacity of 129 megawatt hours. It would be three times the size of the next largest battery ever built. And Tesla had to finish it by December 1st or lose $50 million.
Do you get the idea that unveiling the Tesla Semi Truck came during a time full of distractions? Musk must have been in a state of stress when the rescheduled Tesla Semi Truck was finally held on November 16th. Nevertheless, it was an event worth remembering, and we might bet he enjoyed it thoroughly.
Elon Musk showed off the new Tesla Semi Truck in a carefully staged event. At a typical Tesla multi-media show, with gigantic screens and lights, Musk kept the audience spellbound as he talked about what will probably be the most advanced semi-tractor ever to be produced. It will come in two versions, expected to be available in 2019. One will have a 300-mile range and will cost about $150,000. The other will have a 500-mile range and cost $180,000. Given the low operating costs, these prices are considered very competitive by many people in the industry, and orders started coming in soon after the press conference.
But even with the truck’s presentation complete, the event was not over. In fact, unveiling the truck was only the first act, and perhaps what came next was its high point. Musk unexpectedly went offstage, and something appeared that nearly no one seems to have expected.
Musk was not just unveiling the truck as he had long promised. He was also very unexpectedly showing off the new Tesla Roadster 2.0.
Tesla’s new roadster will be faster than any gas-fueled production car ever built, Musk told the audience. It would accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds, and from 0 to 100 in 4.2 seconds. Top speed is 250 mph. The base model is expected to cost $200,000, and a deposit of $50,000 is required to pre-order one (though it is possible to make a $5,000 down-payment on the pre-order price). Plans are for the new Tesla roadster to be available in 2020, and people are already lining up.
Elon Musk said “The point of all this is just to give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars.” Compared to the Model 2 Roadster, he said, driving a gas-powered sports car would be like driving “a steam engine with a side of quiche.”
Meanwhile, Tesla’s work elsewhere has gone on. The Hornsdale Power Reserve, the battery in South Australia, with a 100-MW/129-MWh battery was put online a day early, on November 30, because the state had a power shortage and asked for whatever power could be delivered. Tesla had met the deadline in under 100 days.