Tesla Semi Truck Gets a Test Drive with Jay Leno [VIDEO]
Jay Leno, the host of “Jay Leno’s Garage,” recently took a deep dive into the features and capabilities of the Tesla Semi truck in a 42-minute video posted on his YouTube channel.
Dan Priestley, who is in charge of the Semi truck program at Tesla, joined Leno to discuss the design philosophy behind the truck, alongside Tesla’s design chief, Franz von Holzhausen.
According to Priestley, the design was inspired by high-speed trains in Japan and aims to align with Tesla’s broader mission of transitioning to sustainable energy. “We really wanted a teardrop shape,” Priestley said, emphasizing the focus on aerodynamic efficiency.
Priestley explained the rationale behind Tesla’s entry into the trucking sector: “It doesn’t make any sense that we should be shipping all of these parts for electric cars on diesel trucks. We should do electric trucks.” He added that the truck could save nearly $200,000 in fuel costs over the first three years of operation, making it an economically viable option for fleet owners.
In terms of performance and efficiency, the Semi truck is equipped with about 1,500 system horsepower. However, Priestley noted that the truck is tailored to a customer-specific profile to ensure both longevity and economy. “In the first three years of operation, you’re looking at nearly two hundred thousand dollars in fuel savings,” he added.
One of the standout features of the Semi truck is its automatic regenerative braking system. This system allows the truck to descend long grades without using brakes. “We’re able to recapture a lot of that and extend the range of the truck,” Priestley explained.
Tesla has also paid close attention to the driver’s experience. The cabin is designed for comfort and efficiency, featuring rear-opening doors for easier access. The steps to the cabin are designed more like stairs than a ladder, enhancing safety.
On the technical side, the Semi truck boasts impressive aerodynamics with a coefficient of drag around 0.4. This makes it almost twice as aerodynamic as traditional trucks, which usually have coefficients around 0.8-0.9.
The Tesla Semi truck is equipped with about 1,500 system horsepower, which is curated to a customer-specific profile to ensure the longest-lasting vehicle and most economical operation. The truck also features an air suspension system that can adjust to different heights, useful for picking up trailers at varying elevations.
“We were really inspired by the high-speed trains in Japan, the Shinkansen, where you have this really kind of super aerodynamic train for obviously efficiency at high speeds,” said Franz von Holzhausen.
Leno takes the Semi for a test drive—while hauling a Tesla Semi. Leno also previously test drove Tesla’s upcoming Cybertruck.
During the test drive, Leno remarked, “I don’t even feel like I’m pulling anything,” to which Priestley responded, “We’re pushing a good load back there, 60-70,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, and you’re not feeling it.” The Tesla Semi truck is designed to offer a smooth driving experience, even when hauling significant loads.
Check out the full video below—it’s pretty awesome: