Musk confirms Tesla semi truck reveal in September, pickup truck in 18 to 24 months

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed timelines for the company’s electric semi truck and pickup truck on Friday via his favorite method of communication: Twitter.

In one tweet, Musk said the Tesla semi truck would be revealed in September. It’s possible Tesla will only unveil a prototype, as it did with its Model 3 launch, and follow it up with a production model sometime later. In a separate tweet, Musk said the pickup truck would appear in 18 to 24 months.

Both vehicles were mentioned in Musk’s second-phase “Master Plan” for Tesla, which he unveiled last year. They were part of a range of new vehicles promised by Musk, which also included an electric SUV and a bus-like autonomous vehicle. Tesla will keep its engineers very busy in the coming years, it seems.

At a recent TED talk, Musk gave us a bit more information, offering up a teaser image of the semi truck for the first time. He even told audience members that he’s driven the truck around the Tesla parking lot, and that he hopes the electric vehicle will outperform a diesel truck’s range and torque.

While the semi truck has only been discussed fairly recently, Tesla has actually hinted at an electric pickup truck quite a few times before. The first time was in 2013, when Musk said Tesla might open a factory in truck-loving Texas and build a pickup there. When he mentioned this, Musk was testifying before the Texas legislature over letting Tesla sell cars directly to customers in the state. Tesla doesn’t use franchised dealers, which has led several states, including Texas, to institute sales bans due to perceived violations of franchise laws.

Americans buy more pickups than any other vehicle type, so it’s not surprising that Tesla wants one of its own. But a pickup would be unlike any other vehicle Tesla has developed so far, and that lack of truck experience could cause issues. A small truck maker called Workhorse is also developing an electric pickup, but with a range-extending gasoline engine.

More groups have toyed with the idea of electric semi trucks, which have the potential to vastly reduce emissions and transportation costs. But the limits current battery technology place on range have been a major hurdle, leading companies to propose everything from stringing overhead wires on highways to getting truckers to swap vehicles during their runs. Interestingly, another company named after Nikola Tesla, Nikola Motors, is also developing a zero-emission semi truck. Called the Nikola One, it combines hydrogen fuel cells with batteries.

Article updated on 04-29-2017 by Lulu Chang: Added image of the upcoming electric semi truck from Tesla. 

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