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After a Elon Musk show, Tesla questions linger


With an electric hauler that can go adult to 500 miles though interlude for a recharge, Tesla is revolutionizing a trucking attention one large supply during a time.

HAWTHORNE, Calif. — Another Elon Musk spectacular is in a story books with twin new electric Tesla products birthed into a world: a unconventional almost lorry that looks like it’s true out of a Transformers film and a sports automobile so discerning that drivers competence cruise shopping a g-suit.

Time to take a solemn post-party register of what usually happened.

One thing stays clear. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO’s favorite twin difference contingency be, “Why not?” What else explains a contrarian brag that includes environment Mars as a rocketry aim for SpaceX or drilling tunnels underneath cities to speed trade as a goal for another pet project, The Boring Company.

Those ventures advantage from vicious slack. We don’t design them anytime soon. But Tesla is utterly another matter. It’s a publicly traded travel association that is perplexing to get a temperament as a purveyor of mainstream electric vehicles and not usually discerning four-door toys for a rich.

Specifically, Tesla is in a midst of what Musk has called “production hell” on a new Model 3 sedan, an entry-level automobile — Musk’s prophesy posits it as the renouned Volkswagen of a electric automobile array — that carries on a slim fenders a shortcoming of quintupling Tesla prolongation to 500,000 electric vehicles a year.

Wall Street still doesn’t seem too worried. Over a past year, Tesla’s batch has jumped 70% to $315, and peaked quickly on Thursday’s twin announcements. But while investors continue to hearten Musk’s bullish diversion plan, there are signs that mistakes with a Model 3 could quash the party.

“Tesla’s announcements underscore a company’s implausible turn of creation and ability to interrupt industries,” Bernstein researcher Toni Sacconaghi wrote in note published shortly after a unveil. “That said, we continue to perspective a near-term risk prerogative for Tesla as neutral to rather unfavorable, due to a doubt surrounding a company’s execution on a Model 3.”

It’s value violation this down a bit and looking during a pros and cons of a lorry and sports car. Let’s start with a Tesla Semi, and since it might, or competence not, change a long-haul trucking industry.

Beyond personification adult a Batman-Does-Trucking looks, Musk took good heedfulness Thursday to explain how a automobile would on a vicious per-mile basement cost reduction to work than a required diesel-powered tractor-trailer. 

That’s good, since trucking is about potency and creation money, not hood-ornament bragging rights during a caf� counter.

Musk also pronounced a Semi’s battery-powered operation would be 500 miles, that would concede for informal round-trip deliveries though recharging.

That’s also critical, since a due network of Megacharging stations — that would take a depleted lorry from dull to 80% assign in a small 30 mins — certainly would be as formidable and dear to set adult as a company’s network of Supercharging stations for a sedans and SUVs. 

But what about prolonged transport truckers who competence find a Tesla Semi a answer to their money-making dreams though worry about being stranded on a mislaid highway? For them, Megacharging is a must, not a nice-to-have. That’s a large financial and logistical endeavour in and of itself. In fact, Sacconaghi records that could be a $1 billion proposition.

There’s also a matter of reliability. Today’s trucks run on diesel engines that have some-more than 100 years of proven tech behind them. They competence not be as immature as an electric vehicle, though they are dependable. Tesla’s large rig, that is anchored to innumerable Model 3 parts, would have small room to go by a flourishing heedfulness Tesla’s Model S and X cars have endured.

“In contrariety to Tesla’s stream customer bases, a priority for lorry drivers and swift operators is trustworthiness and uptime,” says Autotrader researcher Michelle Krebs. “The lorry is a apparatus for creation money. When a lorry is out of commission, income is lost.”

Finally, there’s a cost — or miss thereof. Although trucking hulk J.B. Hunt and tradesman Walmart both announced Friday that they had placed orders for a Tesla Semi, these are companies that can means to maybe barter a few million dollars for a open family boost that comes with being on a slicing corner of green-vehicle tech.

But can a normal trucker who’s profitable off his or her $150,000 Class 8 lorry means to trade for a Tesla? That competence be a worse sell, or during slightest one that competence have to come with guarantees along a lines of Musk’s guarantee that a Tesla Semi’s mechanicals will be good for a million miles. 

In sum, a lorry is Hollywood cold and comically discerning (0 to 60 in 5 seconds, decent sports automobile fast), though there is a lot of mercantile calculus that has to go on before fleets of them strike a road. 

As for a new Tesla Roadster that Musk also revealed, call it a ultimate “halo car,” a tenure automakers give to a automobile that borders on a absurd and is there reduction to make income and some-more to captivate consumers to a brand.

For some context, this contributor was driven in a $3 million Bugatti Chiron by a race-car motorist who pinned a stifle to 100 mph in around 8 seconds. Tunnel prophesy and a punch to a chest ensued. And a Roadster, during a “mere” $200,000, comes billed as faster than a Bugatti.

So what would one do with such a beast? There’s no where to expostulate it to a intensity over a track.


Tesla has denounced a new Roadster, a new chronicle of a strange sports car. It’s a fastest prolongation automobile ever done “period,” according to CEO Elon Musk.

Actually Tesla could good afford, with a $52 billion marketplace cap, to chuck a few million during a racing team. Not so crazy: Porsche recently withdrew from a mythological competition that done a company’s name, a 24 Hours of Le Mans, in sequence to subsequent year contest in a burgeoning new electric-car racing series, Formula E.

And as with a final 100 years, success in any form of racing has trickled down not usually to technological upgrades to prolongation cars though also sales in showrooms.

But afterwards again, there’s always Musk’s adored “why not” rationale.

“While Tesla doesn’t indispensably need a $200,000 halo vehicle, Elon Musk has never been one to do things simply for unsentimental reasons,” says Jessica Caldwell, executive executive of attention research for Edmunds. “(It’s Tesla’s) storm during what could finish adult being a hotly contested EV supercar conflict in a entrance years. The vital oppulance automakers are removing vicious about EVs, and a lot can occur between now and 2020.”

The bottom line for a impulse is simple. Musk continues to punch off pieces that are too large to chew, though he hasn’t choked yet.

His rocket association is winning supervision contracts. The drilling association is in talks with Maryland to start work. And Tesla has populated a roads with a really genuine electric automobile that many suspicion would never take root. 

So now he wants to take over a trucking work. Safe to contend that for many business people, perplexing to invert that attention with a battery-powered challenger would be a life’s work. But for Musk, it’s expected usually an thought hatched over lunch.

At a moment, a world’s would-be Tony Stark has a pass from consumers and investors alike. Until he doesn’t. 

Follow USA TODAY tech contributor Marco della Cava on Twitter.