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Tesla will reveal its semi this Thursday, and Musk promises to 'blow your mind' (cnbc.com)
65 points by SirLJ 6 days ago | hide | past | web | 60 comments | favorite





At this point, what would blow my mind is tesla making their production goals for like anything at all.

For me, judging by their cars on the streets and all the technology advancements since they started, missing production goals by a few months or even a couple years is irrelevant. I think we are all too spoiled and tend to dismiss real technological challenges because “I want it now!”.

> because “I want it now!”.

Isn't it because "Tesla, a public company, promised/projected this production goal"?


yeah, f*ck tech advancements and saving the planet. I want my profits now.

The problem is: They cannot save the world if they crash the company into a wall.

I am not saying that they will, and I hope they will not.

But since a few weeks, I do not completely rule out the possibility anymore. Because if only some of their problems, that are being reported right now, are systemic or hard to fix, 2018 might be a bad year for Tesla...


Hah, Tesla just can't seem to please anyone (kinda like Trump).

Saving the planet from wasteful businesses? Won’t happen in California

Does that change anyone else’s lives other than those who are actually waiting for the car?

The shareholders?

Musk doesn't really care about the shareholders. He has a vision, and the company is the embodiment of that vision. The only reason he took the company public in the first place was for access to capital, and the ability for employees to sell stock.

Since the eighties there has been this maximal version of shareholder value, where the only reason for a company to exist is to maximize returns to shareholders. This was promulgated by private equity firms who would take over a firm and destroy many of the good things that a company was doing that didn't generate profits in order to increase returns to shareholders. Prior to the PE hostile takeover boom, there was a general understanding that shareholders were very important, but not the only stakeholder in a corporation.

If you invest in Tesla though, don't count on the corporate raider philosophy of stock ownership. They may have been able to get other companies in line with the threat of a hostile takeover, but Tesla has protective provisions that make it nearly impossible to do a hostile takeover of Tesla. For better or worse, Tesla is whatever Elon Musk wants it to be. If you're a shareholder, you're just along for the ride.


This is a really naive view of public company obligations. Corporations should always be acting in the interest of shareholder return, full stop. That’s not something PE firms invented. That’s the expectation that has fundamentally driven capital markets from the very outset. What might vary are the anticipated time horizon and distribution profile of returns.

What has really changed is how money moves in the markets and particularly the degree of short-termism being expressed by investors. That has a lot to do with the tremendous growth in available securities (related to opportunity cost), the increased efficiency of capital markets, dramatically lower transaction costs, and the general velocity of capital in the system. And of course, it’s just inherently easier to project near term than long term outlook and always will be.


Show me where in the law does it say "companies are obligated to make their shareholders happy." Your flippant use of the word "should" is all you have to go on so far.

If you don't like what they're doing, you are free to divest. This is a free market after all!


Dodge vs Ford Motor co. : "A business corporation is organized and carried on primarily for the profit of the stockholders"

The general reading of the fiduciary duty to shareholders is that directors of corporations are bound to promote the value of the corporation for the benefit of the shareholders.


Which was a Michigan supreme court ruling. There have been other later cases which interpreted the duties of the directors and officers more narrowly. Even the Dodge vs. Ford case contained: "courts of equity will not interfere in the management of the directors unless it is clearly made to appear that they are guilty of fraud or misappropriation of the corporate funds, or refuse to declare a dividend when the corporation has a surplus of net profits which it can, without detriment to its business, divide among its stockholders, and when a refusal to do so would amount to such an abuse of discretion as would constitute a fraud, or breach of that good faith which they are bound to exercise towards the stockholders." In AP Smith vs. Barlow, in particular, it was ruled that a corporation can make a charitable donation and not breach its fiduciary duty to it shareholders.

The primary means shareholders have to change the direction of the company is to elect a different board of directors. In the case of Tesla, that requires a 2/3 majority, and Elon holds 27% of the stock.


What? My point is that the incentive structure driving that expectation is even stronger than any legally-binding requirement could hope to be. Your framing of this issue implied that short-termism is somehow a perversion of capitalism and what I’m trying to explain is that it is in reality a direct consequence of it.

>it is in reality a direct consequence of it

I agree with this. But IMO Tesla and the like are different because they're tapping into something more. People are actually excited about electric cars now, and they're willing to put money toward the goal and let Musk steer his company, taking them along for the ride.


The shareholders, AKA people who bought stock online hoping to make money, hoping to not lose money because of others selling before them, and not contributing in any way whatsoever to the vision, execution, or success of the company, except for the cash they put in.

Yes, having 400 000 people use bicycle or walk while waiting for their Tesla 3 has significant positive effects for the environment. And if it can continue for few more years, maybe these people will permanently convert to cycling.

It hasn't. It promised starting shipping Model 3 to people probably end of 2017, people just forgot the original promise. Elon specifically said that the internal deadline (and deadline to suppliers) is sooner, as he was expecting delays, he just didn't know it would be because of the battery plant.

Musk loses credibility each time he stokes the 'I want it now' fires with unrealistic promises that he is unable to fulfill. We are impatient but he shares a large amount of the blame for creating these expectations.

Would you be more satisfied if Musk met rather meagre goals he set for the company or of he fell short of unrealistic grand milestones? I'll take the latter.

I think you’re missing the point: a technology advance without the ability to mass-produce isn’t a real advance. Otherwise we’d all be using VR-enabled memristor computers to sequence tailored anti-cancer meds.

Am I? I consider 2,000/week Model S (announced back in 2016) mass production. Just because Model 3 mass production is delayed by a few months it does not mean they can’t do it.

The point is: there's no guarantees it will be delayed by just a few months. But besides, even if they had hit all of their targets, they might just succeed, if they really pushed it, to make as many as Toyota managed to sell of _one_ Prius model (the liftback) last year, in Japan alone.

Nobody said there are guarantees. Please read my first comment.

Comparing a 80 year old company production with a 14 year old company and expecting the same production power is unrealistic.


The negativity with Musk is, as usual, strong in the comments.

One would think that a daring entrepreneur tackling all the important problems of our time would be the beloved poster child of HN, but no, apparently he has failed to meet production goals or something so obviously he sucks.


If it can't meet current demand on the Tesla 3, how could it possibly ship much larger vehicles with presumably a much greater battery capacity in a relevant timeframe?

If I understand correctly, the current speed bump in production is temp issue in production - which is a fixable problem that's taking a bit of time.

That doesn't mean they should halt all their other projects in the pipeline. If anything, IMO, stopping all their other projects would mean there are bigger production issues then they officially shared. Which would be much worse.

Revealing Semi, proves that they are on the right path (they were supposed to reveal semi at the end of this year anyway), minus a temp setback.

I think most people are making a much bigger deal out of this setback.


There is a saying "If a problem can be fixed by throwing money at it, it is not a problem, it is expenses". Currently Tesla is burning money at an industrial scale and still struggling, which does not suggest their problems being merely expenses. Hiccups in production chain tend to propagate

Yes, Tesla not revealing the semi would be PR equivalent of acknowledging deep problems. But revealing does not prove they will be shipping relevant numbers in relevant timeframe either.


I read the temp. production issue is they're hand welding and making custom parts. It's been three+? months, either way. Maybe temp. isn't the best word to use here. They apparently have no plan to actually deliver the 400k+ preorders in the near future or the schedule they presented.

Since we don't know the exact specification of the problem other than what he said, she said.

Hand welding could be because their auto bot welding parts were having issues, and are in the process of fixing them. Is it really that bad? the alternative would be sitting on their butt while the bots are fixed - resulting is zero cars made. Which would have a much much worse public perception?

The other official reason is battery pack issue (could be related to welding, who knows). Again Battery pack is their defacto business, Tesla is essentially a big battery pack strapped into a car. They know how to put batteries better than almost anyone else in the market - if anyone can bounce back from this setback quickly - it's Tesla.

So, again, I don't see a huge issue. I see temp setbacks.

I will take slow production rate over a massive recall of cars (which happens quite often per year, by car industry veteran), any day of the week.

I don't own and Tesla stocks, or any products made by any companies by Musk - or indirectly profit from his products. I also don't worship him.

I just don't like the general witch hunting mentality on the internet. Where minor setbacks or mistakes are blown way out of proportion.


> The other official reason is battery pack issue (could be related to welding, who knows). Again Battery pack is their defacto business, Tesla is essentially a big battery pack strapped into a car. They know how to put batteries better than almost anyone else in the market - if anyone can bounce back from this setback quickly - it's Tesla.

What you're saying here, in short, is "They're having issues in their core competency. Since it's their core competency, it'll obviously be fixed soon." Phrased in such general terms, it's actually not reason to be optimistic about Tesla's future.


How many other auto makers have a core competency in battery production?

How much faster would Ford or BMW ramp up battery production?


I could very well be wrong. Since we are all guessing here, my guess is as good as yours or anyone (who is not an insider and sharing the whole story).

It’s as much publicity as it is building it IMO. Moving perception to new and exciting things is a useful tactic for companies.

Same story as the solar roof, when they meet resistance they push some new fantasy that might never see the light of day.

Perhaps a semi truck is relatively easier than a lower budget car?

I have really mixed feelings about Musk.

But I love his ideas... I want to believe... I really want his ideas to work.

I wont invest in his companies.. but I'm rooting for them to succeed.


I agree, but unfortunately building a business is more about implementation details than big goals.

Yea, every time the company fails to work, he shows up, and tells about other mystery projects. I'm not sure how he started to be so trust-worthy, and why people give him loads of money, as he is simply an unrealistic dreamer. And then we hear that the workers in the factories are quite badly treated, and that he personally is the smartest man on the world. This is so ridiculous.

So I suppose he will show some special-ultra-super-hiper-cool project like "cold fusion generator for every house", and people will throw even more money into that black hole. Next year, after all other things he say will not work, he will probably show super ultra Tesla Model Black Hole 5. And he will get even more money.

How many people need to die to stop that hype about one person who mainly tries to do good impression? http://www.businessinsider.com/tesla-factory-workers-detail-...


Perhaps he is an unrealistic dreamer (though one who has achieved an incredible amount) but I can't think of any other individual who is doing as much for the planet.

I actually think the math really works out well for semis given you can burn through your battery lifespan super quick. Let's say you take two 15 minute breaks + 30 minute lunch per day. That is 1 hour of charge time. Assuming you start from full battery and a 2% per minute supercharge rate (~what wikipedia has for the model s) that gives you an extra 120% battery.

1.9kwh per mile and driving 600 miles per day and you can get away with a 400kwh battery. Less actually but my understanding is you want to not charge to 100% for maximum lifespan. Not sure the optimal cost trade offs...

7 cents per kilowatt hour * 1.9 * 600 = ~$80 a day vs $2.7 a gallon * 600/6(mpg) = $270 a day

$150/kwh for battery with 2000 full cycles is $85 dollars a day without interest(only ~2 year lifespan so w/e and presumably has some residual value also not taken into account)

Seems to work out to about $100 a day in savings?? I feel like I must be off on numbers somewhere. Data on number of cycles doesn't seem to be particularly consistent.


> $150/kw

That's insanely cheap, if you can find a place where I can buy batteries for 150$/kWh, please let me know. The cheapest I found are still >300$/kWh.

> 7cents/kWh

In NY the price is ~0.2$/kWh [1]

Also, a 400kWh battery weighs 2 tons. [2]

[1] https://www.bls.gov/regions/new-york-new-jersey/news-release...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density


Tesla doesn't publish it's costs but based on what they've said it is a reasonable estimate[0] Cells in bulk are below 150[1]

7 cents per kwh is a very common industrial rate.[2] Maybe it is a bit low but it's a lot more reasonable than one of the highest residential rates in the country ($.2/kwh).

Let's say 5000lb for batteries + cooling/wires. Semi's routinely have (200gallons *7) 1400lb in fuel or more and a ~500 hp ~3000lb diesel engine. I don't know what the electric equivalent would weigh exactly but Tesla's 362 hp motor is 70lb. Let's say a 500hp one weighs 500lb. 5000+500 - 1400 - 3000 = 1,100. Tractor weights are around 15-20k so ~5-7% weight increase with a pretty generous estimate for cooling/wires and engine weight assuming rest of the drive train is identical.

[0] https://electrek.co/2017/02/18/tesla-battery-cost-gigafactor...

[1]http://benchmarkminerals.com/lithium-ion-batteries-are-now-s...

[2]https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.ph...


I want electric vehicles to succeed more than anyone, but lets not delude ourselves:

Tesla's batteries are not that energy dense, they are currently 140 Wh/kg[1]. A 400Kwh battery will weigh at least 6000 pounds.

A 400Kwh will get you maybe 150 mile loaded range, 200 gallons of diesel in a semi is a 1300 mile range[2]. To compete with a 400Kwh battery pack you only need to carry 25 gallons of diesel.

Charging a 400 kwh will take at least 3 hours on a supercharger, vs a few minutes for diesel. Its simply not practical for "long haul" as claimed. For it to be usable for long haul you need at least 500-600 miles for a days driving then charge overnight (even that is low for a truck driver). 600 miles is a 1200Kwh battery at 24,000 lbs costing more than the truck with some kind of faster charger so it can be ready in 8 hours.

Bottom line diesel is 30x times as energy dense as current battery tech and that not even counting how much efficiency is left on the table for diesel, the various super trucks programs are showing real world 10+mpg on a semi vs the current 6.5mpg standard by doing secondary heat recovery like a power plant among other things.

The Tesla semi might have some use for local urban delivery but I am highly skeptical of any "long haul" highway replacement claims, will be very interested in the real specifications come Thursday.

[1] http://enipedia.tudelft.nl/wiki/Tesla_Model_S_Battery

[2] https://insideevs.com/tesla-semi-truck-battery-is-how-big/


Taking the 2012 numbers you have at your link, the 85KW pack and 600kg, that is 6200 lb to get to 400kwh. The 2015 number on wikipedia is 540kg per 85kwh pack and the model 3 pack is supposed to be 30% more energy dense[0]. The 2015 number gives 5600lbs so I don't think at least 6000lbs is accurate, even the 2012 number is just slightly over.

All else equal you can charge batteries based on a % of their total capacity. Current superchargers can do about 2%/min for a model S in the 0-80% charge range but can't deliver the requisite power for a 400kwh pack. But I also haven't seen very many supercharger stations that would be particularly well suited for truck traffic either, so I'd imagine there will be a new charger/stations as well.

Sure batteries are no where near competing on absolute range of diesel but I don't think they have to. The question is can you get a days driving in without spending hours and hours charging while keeping the battery capital cost/weight reasonable.

You don't need a 1200kwh pack for that because you can take a couple short breaks plus a lunch with supercharging and over double your effective capacity.

We'll see what happens but I'd be very surprised if the announcement doesn't include a new super charger and stations unless they design it for short range point to point only.

[0]https://electrek.co/2016/11/14/tesla-model-3-battery-energy-...


Magna has electric trucks as a short-range shuttle between factories. They charge during loading/unloading. So it certainly seems doable, at least for short-range transportation.

https://investinaustria.at/en/news/2017/11/magna.php

I don't know about long-range. But I would be curious where you get the 1.9 kWh/mile and the 600 miles per day figure from?


1.9 was sort of an average from googling. This seems like the most detailed source which has a slightly higher number. https://insideevs.com/tesla-semi-truck-battery-is-how-big/

600 is just random googling of what is a long but not super long day for most truck drivers.


Aside from energy efficiency, the semi would be an attractive vector to introduce fully autonomous driving:

1. Feasibility: Many trucking routes avoid some of the most complex driving tasks (e.g. dealing with pedestrians, city traffic).

2. Labor Cost: In commuter travel, the driver _is_ the cargo, so the utility gain is offset:

  utility = cost(operation) - cost(occupancy)
For shipping, in contrast, there is no occupancy requirement, so the gain is greater:

  utility = cost(operation)

However, if the truck is autonomous, then DOT restrictions on hours of service for a driver no longer applies. So, the semi drives a longer day: requiring a bigger battery and longer charge times.

I think what will blow our minds into an alternative dimension is that these trucks are level 4 self driving...

I am looking quite forward to that announcement. While other manufacturers have shown some electric semis, they were all in the demo stage. If Tesla manages to get a practical electric semi into production, the impact could be huge.

For those, who think that Tesla should concentrate on the Model 3 first, this is the early product announcement for the semi - production is probably starting in a year only, so there are no real conflicts.


What they will be presenting is a design, and a powerpoint slide of promises.

Let's wait how long it takes for the first of those trucks to actually be used.


Is another round of fund raising coming around the corner?


Batteries on the trailers, charge while loading

That would be a logistical headache.

Current semi-trailers are low-tech, interchangeable and universally compatible.

Introducing a dependency on a specific subset of trailers for a specific tractor, plus the need for charging facilities at endpoints, would make operations much more complicated and expensive.


Another bubble Elon Musk blowed up to stimulate Tesla's stock.

Techendo predicted the rise of Elon Musk on an old episode way back in the day. Now I'm quite honestly tired of hearing about the hype. The fatigue is real.

So, Tesla has models S3X, and now has a semi... LMAO



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