Several US companies, including supermarket giant Walmart (which owns the Asda chain in the UK), have already reserved Semis, putting the model on course to enter service as soon as it makes production in 2019. The price to reserve a Semi quadrupled from $5,000 to $20,000 shortly after its reveal.
During its November reveal in Hawthorne, California, where Tesla also showed a new Roadster sports car, Musk said the Semi, which was previously referred to as the Tesla Truck, was capable of accelerating from 0-60mph in 5.0sec.
Tesla Semi: UK truckers 'don't care about performance'
He also said it was able to hit 60mph in 20.0sec when the trailer is fully loaded with 80,000lb (almost 36 tonnes) of cargo. This beats the average sprint time for regular diesel-powered rivals by around 40 seconds.
The Semi's energy recovery systems are claimed to be capable of recovering 98% of kinetic energy to the battery. For regular charging, the lorry can be connected to Megachargers – a new high-speed DC charging solution – that are said to add about 400 miles in 30 minutes and can be installed at origin or destination points, much like the existing Superchargers.
Efficiency is boosted by a low wind resistance, with Tesla claiming the Semi has a drag coefficient of 0.36Cd. It states that most of its competitors are closer to 0.65Cd.
Tesla has refrained from going into further detail about the lorry's drivetrain and battery but has revealed that the vehicle features advanced autonomous technology to prevent jackknifing of the trailer. Onboard sensors are installed to detect instability and can adjust torque sent to each wheel and independently actuate all brakes to avoid jackknifing.
Additionally, surround cameras provide autonomous object detection and reduce blindspots, alerting the driver to safety hazards and obstacles. The lorry also introduces a new Enhanced Autopilot system, with automatic emergency braking, automatic lane keeping, lane departure warning and even event recording.
The Semi can travel in a convoy, allowing one or several Semis to autonomously follow a lead one.