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Reader pics show Tesla Semi on I-680, en route from Gigafactory to Fremont

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  • Readers Anthony Kay and Matt Beckman sent in these photos of the Tesla Semi on I-680, which connects the San Francisco Bay Area to I-80. Matt Beckman
  • Here it is in black Matt Beckman

Update: We received the above photos of Tesla Semis in the wild from a reader. The trucks are traveling along I-680, which connects I-80 to the Bay Area.

Original Story: On Wednesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk posted a picture on Instagram of two Tesla Semis at the Sparks, Nevada Gigafactory. The trucks are apparently full of battery packs and are making their way to the Tesla factory in Fremont, California.

"First production cargo trip of the Tesla Semi heavy-duty truck, carrying battery packs from the Gigafactory in the Nevada mountains to the car factory in California," Musk wrote.

That marks a milestone for the electric truck, which Tesla announced last November. The company hopes to start selling the trucks to other companies, including Walmart, DHL, and JB Hunt Transportation Systems by 2019, but it said last year that the first trucks would be used internally. (In fact, Tesla said in November that it was already using more discrete, prototype versions of its Semis to haul batteries from Nevada to the California coast.)

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The Semi has ambitious specs that haven't been vetted in the real world yet—Musk promised that the top-line trucks would have a 500-mile range and an 80,000lb maximum load. He also claimed that the trucks would be able to hit 65mph at a 5-percent grade. So testing the trucks on a route between Sparks, Nevada and Fremont, California is clearly ideal for a company honing a product for buyers.

Laden with heavy batteries, the trucks will make their way from 4,400ft in altitude at Sparks to 7,200ft at the place where I-80 crosses Donner Summit, before the trucks ride the route down to sea level. On the return trip, when the electric trucks have to gain 7,200 ft in altitude, they'll be empty and lighter.

The route is also roughly 240 miles each way—a round-trip journey would come in just under the 500 miles of range that the trucks supposedly have.

For now, though, we don't know if these trucks actually meet those ambitious specifications or not. Ars contacted Tesla, but the company declined to comment on whether the trucks would make round trips on a single charge or if they would be charging up along the way.

The Semi also demonstrates what seems to be Tesla's modus operandi: build new businesses based on markets tangential to your area of expertise. Though Tesla is a passenger vehicle company first, its move out to residential, commercial, and utility-grade battery storage grew out of the company's growing knowledge about batteries and its need to make extra space at the Gigafactory productive in the years before the Model 3 came to market. To move batteries from Nevada to Fremont, Tesla designed a zero-emissions delivery system. Instead of designing a solution like an electric truck for just one company, designing a solution that can be sold to many companies seemed like the economical way to go.

Still, critics charge that designing and marketing an electric truck when Tesla so deeply needs to turn its production numbers around on the Model 3 is unwise. For now, we'll be watching out for the trucks along I-80.

Listing image by Elon Musk

Original Article

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