Posted on July 26, 2016 by Matt Pressman
Most were anticipating the Model Y (the Model 3 SUV variant) would be Tesla's next vehicle scheduled for a reveal post-Model 3. However, it appears that Elon Musk will be taking a different path related to his vehicle announcement plans. Musk wasn't coy yesterday when he took to Twitter to tease that the Tesla trucks are coming. He tweeted, "Tesla Semi truck unveil set for September. Team has done an amazing job. Seriously next level." He followed up with, "Pickup truck unveil in 18 to 24 months." Without a doubt, Musk is intent on moving the company quickly towards semis and pick-up trucks. Although surprising, this move could be a stroke of genius as these markets are ripe for innovation.
Source: Concept rendering of a Tesla pickup (Source: Autoguide / Tobias Büttner)
Considering the strategy with Tesla Semis, Teslarati reports that an exciting opportunity exists in this massive market, "Nearly 12,000 million tons of freight are hauled by trucks every year in the United States. A significant portion of that hauling is done by smaller trucks rather than large semi-trucks. Package carrying (van) trucks, dump trucks, refuse (garbage) trucks, and other specialized trucks are also common and actually make up a larger portion of the miles driven by heavy-duty trucking... we can assume that the company [Tesla] plans to design and potentially build heavy-duty trucks of all stripes. This is realistic given that major truck builders such as Paccar (Kenworth, Peterbilt), Volvo, Mack, etc. already do this."
Above: Concept rendering of a Tesla Semi (Source: Jalopnik)
Next up, the Tesla pickup truck has been on Musk's radar for some time. Electrek pointed out prior quotes from Musk foreshadowing this move, including when Musk stated, "I am quite keen on building a truck and I think there’s a lot one can do with truck technology... I was driving an F-250 down the 405 one day and... I thought my teeth were going to rattle out of my head. If you put load on it it’s fine, but if you’re empty it’s not. It would be good to do that and obviously to make it light and really handle well. That’s where having a battery pack low can improve the center of gravity. I think it’s possible to produce a really well-handling truck that feels good at any load point. That would be really great."
Above: Concept renderings of a Tesla pickup (Source: Electrek)
We reported on Reuters speculating that Tesla might benefit from military contracts. Is it possible these electric trucks could be used by governments and/or military applications? Looking as far back as last year, CNN reported that, "Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, met with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter Wednesday as the Pentagon looks to raise its technology game... The focus of the closed-door get together was 'innovation,' according to a Defense Department spokesman." After all, the government has been working on "skunk works" electric vehicles with wireless charging and b-directional capability to power homes. For example, check out this amazing project from Oak Ridge National Laboratory showcasing an electric 3D-Printed Utility Vehicle (PUV) by the U.S. Department of Energy for its AMIE Project.
Above: U.S. Department of Energy showing interest in innovation for both electric vehicles and home charging tech (Source: InsideEVs)
Other news came from Musk's tweets yesterday as he confirmed the final Model 3 reveal would be in July. He also teased a Roadster convertible option would be coming as well. However, as exciting as these tweets are — especially the Tesla truck possibilities — little is known regarding Musk's plans to get into Tesla pickup and semi businesses other than the fact that he'll (likely) look to an all-electric powertrain with robust autonomous, self-driving features. That said, we look forward to more being revealed during the upcoming first quarter earnings call on May 3rd. We'll be sure to update you post-call.