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Will Tesla disrupt the trucking industry?

The Verge’s Tamara Warren breaks down what’s the deal with those Tron-looking trucks (and why they have no mirrors) on Too Embarrassed to Ask.

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Tesla semi trucks	Tesla livestream

If you’re one of the 1,240 people who thought they were getting a Tesla Model 3 this past quarter and didn’t, good news: Tesla is getting into an entirely new product category: Short-haul electric semi trucks.

Why is that good news for you, if all you want is an electric sedan? On the latest episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask, The Verge’s Tamara Warren said entering the lucrative trucking business — and unveiling a new model of its Roadster sports car, which starts at $200,000 — may give the company the cash it needs to scale up production.

“Tesla has a very loyal customer base,” Warren said. “If you can get people to put down cold hard cash, you’re infusing a company that’s hemorrhaging cash with exactly what it needs: Capital.”

Exact pricing for the Tesla semi truck was not initially announced at the product event, but yesterday the company confirmed that the 300-mile-range and 500-mile-range models of the Semi would likely cost $150,000 and $180,000, respectively. The first of those trucks is expected to roll out in 2019.

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On the new podcast, Warren explained why Tesla and its competitors are so interested in electric trucks: Switching to batteries may save drivers a truckload of money. And she said a big part of whether Elon Musk and company can succeed is the simultaneous expansion of its charger network across the country, including solar-powered “megachargers” that can deliver 400 miles of range in 30 minutes.

“If a trucker travels 90,000 miles a year — let’s say the cost of fuel for a diesel truck is $2.70 a gallon,” Warren said. “And let’s say that’s 35 cents per mile. If you think about that, for fuel alone, that’s $31,000 to $32,000 that that trucker is spending.

“If you’re using battery-charging to power your truck, you’re saving thousands of dollars a year and that definitely is lucrative for a lot of truckers when it comes down to it, or their companies,” she added.

She also offered an informed guess about one of the big questions left unanswered by Tesla’s event last week: Why did the new trucks have no mirrors?

“When we see them [at unveilings], things like mirrors are often not included because they're not production vehicles, they’re concepts,” Warren said. “Some of that is regulatory: There are different regulations in the United States versus Europe, for example, where the lights need to be. So I imagine the actual truck we see when it gets delivered, two years from now, will look different.”

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