Truck Drivers Apparently Don’t Care About The Tesla Semi’s Performance

In announcing the Tesla Semi, Elon Musk made no secret of the fact that it will be much quicker than any diesel alternatives.

However, do long-haul truck drivers even care about performance? According to the UK’s Road Haulage Association (RHA), they don’t.

Speaking to Autocar earlier this week, RHA policy advisor Rod McKenzie said performance figures aren’t relevant to truck drivers and the lack of charging points and minimal range of the Tesla are huge concerns.

“Hauliers don’t care about these claimed figures. They’re not relevant to us. We’re not looking for performance, not least because lorries’ speed is limited to 56mph.

“The Tesla Semi has a reported range of 500 miles. That’s quite a lot less than a diesel lorry. It means charging. First of all, where are the charging points? There aren’t many around. And lorries can be filled up with diesel very quickly.

“Musk said there would be quick-charging in 30 minutes but I think we need to see charging times in real terms. Any loss of time greatly reduces our operational efficiency,” McKenzie said.

According to Musk, the Tesla Semi will accelerate to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 20 seconds with an 80,000 lbs payload. Without a trailer, it’ll complete the sprint in five seconds. While truck drivers may not care about this straight-line performance, many car drivers will, particularly if it means they won’t get stuck behind a slow-moving truck when pulling away from traffic lights.

Interestingly, McKenzie went on to suggest that most hauliers are conservative and not willing to take risks, and that includes ditching a reliable diesel vehicle for an unproven semi from a company that can’t make any money.


  • iea96

    As if that wasn’t expected

    • thunder bolt

      You guys are arguing the wrong point because If the truck can drive by itself, why does Tesla need a truck driver?

      • D.W. Darling

        If you watch abour driverless trucks that onlt on the open road they said they need the driver for in city driving plus if they wanted to they could ship everything by rail and hire drivers for un city delivery only thus removing all OTR DRIVERS COMPLETELY and if they do that there is no need for big trucks just smaller day cabs and that chage would kill the truck driver for any of your comments its call high demand for change and high demand for quality of life for truck driver it better to be on the winning side and have a job with good pay i AM A CLASS A CDL DRIVER WE NEED TO BETTER OUR WORLD AND WAY OF LIFE NOT DESTROY IT SO OUR CHILDREN HAVE NOTHING

        • Blackwater

          I bet you think “climate change” is real too.

          • Silimarina

            I bet you are not the sharpest tool in the shed

  • Day_Trader

    One could argue – who cares what truck drivers think? They get paid to drive, not to think.

    • Yawn

      Judging by that comment, you must be a truck driver.

      • uS’gedlemba


    • LeStori

      USA. “Owner-operators are small business people who own, maintain and drive their own commercial motor vehicles. Ninety percent of the trucking industry is made up of small business trucking companies with ten or less trucks.”

      So the driver who you think is being paid to drive, might actually be the owner trying to make a living. At the moment an electric truck is an expensive gamble. Better the devil you know than buying from a company that is burning US$70k an hour.

      Added. Think I got the losses wrong. Tesla is apparently burning through 4 times my figure/hour . i.e. around US$280k /hour… sorry for the mistake.

    • Vassilis

      Many of them actually own the trucks.

  • mb4design

    Not a truck driver myself, but I’m tired of Tesla drag race articles; as if straight line acceleration is the only metric. (almost as stupid as autonomous race cars) As far a range goes it seems 500 miles is a full day at truck speed so the next price jump in diesel fuel might change perspectives.

    • exeptor

      I like your point – 500 miles are 9 hours. I don’t really know what are the regulations, but i really doubt that truck drivers are allowed to drive 9 hours without a rest. Fuel cost reduce might also be something that will make truck owners look at electric. In addition I prefer a semi which can overtake a slow vehicle faster than the current ones. The only reasonable concern in this article is the charging network.

      • Axiom Ethos

        The real factor is how soon will we have the 30m/400mi “megacharger” network Tesla is introducing “worldwide” and how quickly that network will be built out. Tesla claims “80% of routes are less than 250 miles”. While that may be roughly the case, I’m betting we’re 3-4 years away from the ability to realistically “Charge at Origin or Destination” as Tesla so ambitiously claims.

        • exeptor

          I hope so. I mainly like Tesla for pushing the others in the future direction (Porsche mission E for example, which in my opinion will be exceptional car) and less about the tech itself. We need this company to survive even for this only reason because without it we may stuck into a gasoline world for the next 50 years (or till it becomes cost ineffective). We (people in the forum) are so called petrol heads, but we also have to be realistic – what we really adore are cars like Ferrari F40, Porsche Carrera GT, McLaren F1, NIssan GTR, etc. There is nothing petrol “headish” in VW Passat 2.0 TDI (as an example for all such type of cars which are 99,999% of them all).

    • europeon

      That price jump in fossil fuels… dunno. Something a lot of people overlook is that the biggest part of the fossil fuel price is made up of taxes – in Europe they get as high as 75%. Those taxes go towards road maintenance and such, so how long till the governments will realize that, and start taxing the electric vehicles to a degree that will make them less attractive than ICE ones?

  • Dariush

    im actually curious to see if Tesla itself will have their car delivered with Tesla carrier.

  • kachuks

    Should have focused instead on building a vehicle for delivery services. How many miles do UPS/FedEx/USPS trucks travel per day?

    Might fit inside that 500 mile range and those trucks return to their home base at the end of the day where they can charge.

    • exeptor

      Your point is valid for all types of city operational trucks. Also busses – I doubt that an average bus makes more than 30 kilometers in range in an hour which makes for less than 600 kilometers per day. 500 miles battery will be quite enought.

      • Liam Paul

        well as far as buses, the school bus company Thomas Built buses now has a eletric bus, ofcause its downside is 100 miles not 500 like Tesla. Most school buses though only cover about 40 to 80 miles a day. Tesla should try to sell the engine to school bus companies to put in their products, there are 3 big ones, IC, Bluebird and Thomas built buses

    • Axiom Ethos

      buses, vans, work trucks, box trucks – those should all be Tesla’s priority focus instead of expanding the consumer lineup further imho. Companies are much more willing to invest in fleets of these vehicles if they work well and are saving lots in fuel economy and Tesla is now an established mover and shaker ready to take on the market that really would benefit the most from the technology.

      • Blackwater

        Hub? Tesla is teetering on bankruptcy.

  • Bash


  • TheBelltower

    Most of us can’t even imagine the special interests that Tesla is up against when it comes to commercial trucking. So I take all of what any “trucking association” says with a grain of salt. But little by little, how well electric semi trucks are adopted will be determined by how natural they are to drive, the range, the durability, and the amount of noise and stink they reduce. Aside from the computing power bolted onto the trucks, trucking technology hasn’t improved by much in several decades. They still drive, sound and stink like crude farm equipment. If Tesla can produce something that’s built well, performs well and reduces the amount of fatigue drivers experience, they’ll have a winner.

    • MarketAndChurch

      True, but electric, level 2 autonomous vehicles presents a scary future for every person who depends on driving to make a living. It’s just a stones throw away from level 5 autonomous driving, and the amount of people whose jobs it will displace a decade from now is in the tens of millions. Especially when you factor in other technologies, drones, and the ecosystem it will create to make a need for human drivers utterly irrelevant. That’s probably what this truck represents for them, the beginning of the end.

      • TheBelltower

        I’m sure you’re right. Though autonomous driving is coming one way or another. It won’t matter whether the semi is electric or diesel.

      • exeptor

        Well said. Valid for taxi drivers too and any other transport related bussines. I’m always saying to hardcore sceptics that even if it is not Tesla the game will be changed in not so distant future and we better adabt or will be left in the past.

      • Knotmyrealname

        ..and autonomous vehicles don’t strike or ‘seasonally adjust’ their pricing. I bet those truckers are worried.

        • Blackwater

          Only a moron would want to share the road with a loaded driverless truck.

          • Knotmyrealname

            Only a moron can’t see this coming, like or not.

    • Blackwater

      “Special interests” you mean CONSUMERS?

  • MarketAndChurch

    What about the autopilot feature? Wouldn’t that allow for a more relaxing driving experience? Especially with that grand view of the road?

    • LeStori

      Put it on autopilot and fall asleep at the wheel would seem to be the most likely scenario. When our brain goes into autopilot mode it switches off to conserve energy. Only true autonomous vehicles will save us from humans. With true autonomous vehicles drivers will not be needed.

      The next 20 years will likely see , in the USA, something like 5 million plus extra looking for a job as their vehicle drives away without them. This does not include disruption too retail by more online stores delivering to your home, the need for less cars when they can do multiple jobs during the day. etc. etc. The world is a changing. Even more will be left behind

      • MarketAndChurch

        Exactly. Which is why Ford is skipping level 3 autonomous driving alltogether because the human tendency when a car is pretty good at driving itself is to totally take your full attention off the road, and in the case of Ford’s research, fall asleep at the wheel, as Ford researchers did.

        I think Tesla’s autopilot system is level 2, which means that driving input, focus, and control of the wheel is still necessary.

        5 million, I think, is much smaller than I think the disruption will be. I’m thinking tens of millions in the United States alone, from people who chauffeur or shuttle people, to businesses that deliver physical goods or services, to freight, we’re talking a large number of low-skill people who will be impacted and left behind, and who we won’t be able to retrain to do the other jobs that remain.

        While Carscoops obsesses about how glorious EV’s are, it’s odd that they don’t do more to cover the implications of a fully autonomous world will have on low-skill labor who depend on driving to earn a living, and how it will impact the cost of living by lowering it tremendously, while erasing car ownership almost entirely, especially in the long run. Because that’s where the big story on car’s role in society really is, and not so much on carbon emissions, which technology will inevitably will cure anyways.

      • Joseph Brown

        There is little to keep an independent owner-operator from buying a Tesla Semi. When they do, they will be able to pocket the difference between Diesel and TSemi expenses as profit. A modest investment plan and a two to three year payout means that that exact same owner-operator could own the level-5, fully autonomous semi when it arrives. The truck drivers of today could be the idle, independently wealthy of tomorrow, with a fat, steady paycheck from letting their semis work without them — although I expect more than a few will choose ride aboard to keep an eye on their investment.

  • DeliciousCheddar

    The last thing we need is a 25,000 lb truck moving through traffic at unpredictable speeds.

    In trucking, performance isn’t a feature, it’s a bug.

    • Axiom Ethos

      There’s nothing unpredictable other than how well drivers adjust to a truck that can pass cars as fast as your average consumer truck since the vast majority will have a trailer and be carrying a load, which isn’t very quickly even as a Tesla. I think this is a non-issue. The real gains are in efficiency at speed through mountainous routes (earning 50% more per mile @ 65 mph / 5% grade) as Tesla pointed out in the presentation.

  • Randy Terpstra

    For this to work, it’ll have to be a joint exercise and indications are that it will be. For example, here in Canada, Loblaw’s will be testing a fleet, as well as 10 of Walmart’s 15 Tesla Semis, will be operating. I can see megachargers, being placed at the loading bays of Loblaw’s & Walmart Canada locations, so that the trucks are charging, while being unloaded. And given the Tesla’s limited range, I can see these operating in a limited area, which also happens to be Canada’s most densely populated region, the “401 Corridor”. Toronto/Montreal & Toronto/Windsor fall well within the Tesla’s range.

  • Kash

    Shocking, why would they when they have far more important things to worry about when it comes to such a large vehicle, like braking? Even when you try and spin it as “Well other drivers will care” no they won’t, because the truck drivers aren’t gonna punch it just to take off quickly, they’ll be slightly quicker when accelerating but not enough to be noticeable.

    Try this article, written by an ex-trucker who has some questions about the semi as well as calls out Musk/Tesla on some of their BS, such as jackknifing being impossible in the Tesla Semi:

  • Flash

    Truckers might be more interested in the operating cost of a electric semi that requires less maintenance costs less to run and lasts longer. Others have commented about lack of charging spots but that could br remedied fairly easily if electric trucks become popular and many short haul truckers can just plug it in at night back at their terminal.Electric motors last for years even decades and I can see them traveling millions of miles reliabily. My biggest concern with Tesla is they have to produce the model 3 in quantity before they run out of cash and go bankrupt.

  • Marty

    “Performance” isn’t about top speed or even 0–100 km/h. It’s about always having torque enough to go with the flow of the traffic, even uphill. But of course range is also important.

    And one important thing that I am afraid that Tesla is missing with their “portaloo with tv screens” design: it’s about driver comfort.

  • S3XY

    I care. Being stuck behind slow smelly a$$ trucks is always annoying. Truck drivers are just stuck in their ways. Close minded opinions are not valid. And in general, aren’t very edumuhcated. Also, this was the same type of reception back when Tesla was releasing the Model S. No one cared about an electric 4 door sedan blah blah blah, UNTIL, they drove one, and then it changed their bum lives forever. And look where we are now.

    • salamOOn

      “And look where we are now.”

      now we up vote own posts…..? or at least some of us….just like you. Or maybe only you.

      • no25

        are you surprised the tesla fanboy upvoted his own comment? lol

  • Craig

    All my life I’ve been told to ‘conserve energy’. NEVER leave a room without turning off the lights, etc. Do we suddenly have a limitless supply of electricity? That said… the Tesla Semi is the stuff of dreams. But as we all know…. dreams aren’t always very realistic. Maybe it’s just too soon.

    • Joseph Brown

      Conserve energy, not just electricity.

      The Tesla Semi does save, and it saves big — less than 2 kWh used per mile traveled when fully loaded up to the legal maximum of 80k pounds. Diesel fuel contains the equivalent of 38 kWh per gallon, and just refining it consumes approximately 6.5 kWh — and a Tesla Semi can make 22 miles, fully loaded, on that amount of energy.

      Independent owner-operators and big fleet operators probably care a bit more about money per mile, though; or perhaps total money spent (Total Cost of Ownership, or TCO) over the service life of the vehicle. The Tesla Semi promises to win big in those areas as well — US $0.14 per mile in electricity, as opposed to US $0.56 or so per mile in diesel; and US $200,000 less spent over the life of the vehicle.

      The MegaCharger infrastructure isn’t built yet, so there are still some important pieces missing — but Mercedes and Cummins both showcased electric drive trucks earlier this year, so it looks like electric is the future that everyone is agreeing on.

  • Howstar

    Who knew an electric truck could make a bigger smoke screen than a diesel truck

    • Vassilis

      hahaha this was gold!

  • Vassilis

    Thank you!

  • JBsC6

    In the USA a truck driver is required to stop every 6 hours for a half an hour break. That is why Musk spoke about the half an hour recharge time every 400 miles.

    Doesn’t take a genius to see traditional truck drivers would not revel in the new tesla semi. It’s new and unknown …

    People under time constraint stress for their livelihood rarely embrace new technology that could falter and cost them money. This will be a top down trickle effect first with major haulers like Walmart etc….they will start out to gain good public relations with the greenies and if this battery technology proves out. Then this will filter down to those that can afford it.

    If a trucker has many more years of expected usuage on his existing diesel truck. Of course he is not going to want to hear it’s time to move to electric..,he is busy trying to make a living. JMO

    Fleet first

    • Joseph Brown

      Smart owner-operators will buy these now; early adopters will get a bigger fraction of their checks as profit before the lower cost per mile of electrics start forcing down the price of shipping. Late adopters will be forced out as the contract prices per mile get lower than they can afford.

      And the reduced TCO and quick payback means that the early adopters might well be able to buy more than one — and just let them run, autonomously, for the fleet operators. Seems like easy money.

  • Enter Ranting

    Well, as someone who might be behind one of these entering a freeway, I care about the performance.

  • EyalN

    i checked: lorry= truck.
    a truck needs to carry more and stop faster, no one cares about 0-60. the good point about electric truck is the torque, that could be good for a truck. they can put more batteries in the back for extra range but we are talking about tesla in 5 years and no one thinks that they will still be in business then.

    • Maricaibo

      i do.

  • D.W. Darling

    You drivers overlook the simple ,have yoy heard of apu or maybe a propane generator they can install a generator and it will carry irs own recharger now if my RV has a generator then why cant this truck have one why would you think it needs a charging station when it carries its own and if you drive a truck that is guaranteed to go 1million miles before work needed then the maintenance savings would pay you more money in the long haul and the electric truck can only get better in the future ,,right now we are sucking our eath dry of all its needed cushions but i guess when they say that when a truck driver knows everything then he is very unsafe on the road and needs to stop driving to me all driver who fight this electric truck should not be on the road now or ever in the soon to be future because they are big rolling death

  • SpeedSaint85

    Once upon a time I use to believe that the whole point of alternate energy vehicles was to save the planet. So I don’t think these truck drivers understand that to begin with. They’re missing the point….Funny how they think they are smart though.


    Don’t blame them. Why would they take this over something like a Volvo VNL? You don’t buy semis for performance you buy them to haul freight over long distances.

    I’m more interested in creature comforts.