Elon Musk‘s Tesla announced two new electric vehicles on Thursday, one long expected and the other a shock to even the closest Tesla observers.
Here’s what to know about Tesla’s new vehicles: the Tesla Semi and the refreshed Tesla Roadster.
The Tesla Semi
The Tesla Semi is a battery-powered truck with an advertised range of 500 miles on a single charge when fully loaded and driving 65 miles per hour. It will include Tesla’s semiautonomous self-driving capabilities, which allow Tesla’s vehicles to drive themselves with minimal human input in some scenarios. Tesla did not specify how much the Tesla Semi will cost, but reservations begin at $5,000 per truck. Production is expected to start in 2019.
The Tesla Semi represents a major extension of the company’s business model. Whereas Tesla has previously focused on selling consumer vehicles, the Tesla Semi marks the firm’s first major foray into the commercial vehicle market.
While that market presents a potentially lucrative opportunity for Tesla, it also brings new challenges. Tesla has been known to over-promise and under-deliver on production deadlines and other targets (the new Model 3 sedan, for instance, has been plagued by production problems and delays.) While the company’s car fans might begrudgingly tolerate delays, commercial trucking companies are likely to be less forgiving of any snafus.
The Tesla Roadster
Tesla and Musk had been teasing the Tesla Semi for months, leaving few surprises for Thursday’s big rig reveal. But Musk managed to surprise the automotive world nonetheless with the introduction of a refreshed Roadster supercar, Tesla’s original electric vehicle.
The new Roadster shares few similarities with the original, beyond the name. Whereas the first Roadster had the feel of a Skunkworks project (it was based on the Lotus Elise), the new model appears to be the collective expression of everything Tesla has learned about making vehicles in the past decade or so.
Tesla claims the new Roadster, which will start at $200,000, will do 0 to 60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds, have a top speed of 250 miles per hour, and will be able to drive up to 620 miles on a single charge. How those figures stand up to real-world testing remain to be seen. The range, in particular, will likely depend on how hard it’s driven. The Tesla Roadster won’t be available until 2020, Tesla says, but reservations start immediately for a cool $50,000 down.