There was a lot to talk about after the presentation, with plenty of questions still unanswered. The most important was related to the purchase price, an aspect Elon Musk dodged expertly by speaking about the operating cost versus a diesel-powered truck instead. With a battery pack of about 1 MWh (that’s 1,000 kWh), it should be quite expensive.
However, that – along with the rest of the uncertainties of such a novel vehicle – didn’t stop a few high-profile companies from placing several orders. Meijer Inc – a Michigan-based groceries chain – ordered four, J.B. Hunt Transport Services placed a reservation for “several” trucks, while retail giant Walmart has made the downpayment for 15 (ten for the U.S. and five for Canada).
The focus so far has been on the Semi’s dynamic performances and maximum range, with the inside of the cabin taking a back seat. Well, the short footage released by the company (all CGI) reveals a roomy, triangular-shaped interior with a central commanding position for the driver and a Model 3-style minimalistic dashboard.
All the driver has to take their attention from the scenery from beyond those thermonuclear explosion-proof windows are two large portrait-oriented displays. All the functions – vehicle, infotainment, climatization – are going to be squeezed in there, as are the side mirror displays.
Tesla is betting on the legislation on using video camera feed to replace the side mirrors changing by 2019, but it’s also playing it safe by having one of the two prototypes shown on November 15 fitted with standard, physical mirrors. Using the displays is definitely the better option (for both visibility and improving the vehicle’s aerodynamics), but it might take a bit of getting used to for the drivers.
The video also reveals there is only one passenger seat available tucked away to the back and right. It has a foldable sitting cushion to get out of the way when not in use, but the biggest question is where will the driver sleep? This is only a medium-haul truck, but the option should still be there. Tesla could make a folding bed on the entire width of the cabin, but considering it works with a lot of trucking experts, we should probably just go with what the company is offering and trust that it knows what it’s doing way better than us.