The Tesla Roadster may have generated quite a bit of buzz, but the sports car isn’t the only thing the Palo Alto-based company unveiled recently. Joining it on stage is the new Semi, a battery electric truck that promises to “deliver a far better experience for truck drivers, while increasing safety and significantly reducing the cost of cargo transport.”

The Semi is powered by four independent electric motors on the rear axles, and will go from a rest to 97 km/h (0-60 mph) in just five seconds. Of course, this is without a trailer hitched to it, but Tesla says with a full 36,287 kg-, or 80,000-pound load, its truck will complete the sprint in 20 seconds.

For some perspective, Tesla claims the feat will take about a minute in a regular diesel truck, and 15 seconds without any load tying it down. The Semi also climbs 5% grades at a steady 105 km/h (65 mph), whereas a diesel truck maxes out at 72 km/h (45 mph) on the same grade.

As the electric truck doesn’t require any shifting or clutching, it allows for smoother acceleration and deceleration. Moreover, its regenerative braking recovers 98% of kinetic energy to the battery, which Tesla says gives it “basically infinite brake life.”

Tesla will also introduce Megachargers, a new high-speed DC charging system that is said to provide 644 km (400 miles) of range in just 30 minutes. These will be installed at strategic points and along heavily trafficked routes, enabling recharging during loading, unloading, and driver breaks.

Speaking of the driver, the Semi’s cabin features a centred driver position with two touchscreen displays that provide easy access to information. The truck’s systems also sync with a fleet’s management system to support routing and scheduling, as well as remote monitoring.

On the safety front, the Semi is fitted with a reinforced battery, surround cameras impact-resistant glass and on-board sensors that detect instability and adjusts torque to each wheel and brake actuation to prevent jackknifing. There’s also Enhanced Autopilot, with systems such as Automatic Emergency Braking, Automatic Lane Keeping, Lane Departure Warning and event recording. Several Semi trucks can also form a conga line where all of them autonomously follow a lead Semi.

Tesla says the Semi is a more cost-efficient solution for fleet owners, with claimed fuel savings of more than US$200,000 (RM832,400) over a million miles (1,609,344 km). The company also provided some consumption data for the Semi, which consumes less than 2 kWh of energy per mile, and is capable of 500 miles of range at GVW and highway speed.

Given that 80% of freight in the United States is moved less than 402 km (250 miles), the Semi fits a wide range of shipping applications. Coupled with the low and stable nature of electricity prices – which average $0.12/kWh in the United States, owners can expect the above-mentioned savings.

With no engine, transmission, after-treatment system or differentials to upkeep – the Tesla Semi also requires significantly less maintenance. Its battery follows a similar composition to its other products and is designed for repeated charging cycles for over a million miles.

Meanwhile, its motors are derived the ones found in the Model 3 and have been validated to last more than one million miles under the most demanding conditions. Reservations for the Tesla Semi can be made for US$5,000 (RM20,810) per truck, and production will begin in 2019.