Tesla Semi silences the haters by moving a heavy load? Maybe, maybe not

Screen Shot 2021 06 28 At 3 39 52 Pm Headshot

Tesla's much-hyped Semi truck, which company founder Elon Musk calls "the most badass rig on the road," may have just shed some light on the most closely guarded secret around the EV maker's entire big-truck program: The truck's weight and payload capabilities. 

Tesla simply refuses to say how much it's Class 8 EV weighs. Though Pepsi's Semis participated in the North American Council for Fuel Efficiency's Run On Less program, reporting real-world performance stats, still nobody knows the exact weight. Even as Tesla hopes to ramp up Semi production, mostly to fulfill existing orders (not reach new customers), the weight hasn't ever been exactly confirmed. 

In the world of sales, and frankly in the world of how much things weigh, if someone doesn't want to tell you, it's almost certainly bad news.

All EVs have to carry heavy batteries, which never get any lighter even as they lose charge. The Tesla Semi likely carriers about 10,000 pounds of batteries to achieve an advertised 500-mile range. 

No matter how light a truck's hood gets, that's a lot of weight to offset.

The popular joke (or meme) around the Semi has become that it exclusively hauls potato chips for Frito-Lay, a Pepsi company. Indeed many skeptical owner-ops dismiss sightings of Teslas blowing the doors off diesel trucks on Donner Pass's steep grades as a simple parlor trick, with a Semi hauling a trailer that's mostly full of air (much like a bag of Fritos).

But a new video has surfaced of the Semi hauling something pretty tangibly heavy: Five Model 3 Tesla cars. 

The Model 3 boasts an unreal 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds, but like all EVs it's a heavy ride, clocking in at just over 4,000 pounds. For perspective, another sedan, the Honda Accord, weighs as little as 3,200. A Subaru Outback, much bigger than the Model 3, weighs just a hair under 4,000 pounds, as does a luxury sedan like the Lexus IS 350. 

So the Semi can haul five 4,000 pound cars, which puts about 20,000 pounds on the trailer. The trailer, which looks like a pretty standard six-car trailer, most likely weighs around 15,000 pounds.

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That's a 35,000 payload demonstrated in the video above. Other videos have purported to show the Semi hauling around 50,000 in concrete dividers up Donner Pass. Keep in mind, EVs like the Tesla Semi get a 2,000-pound pass, so they can get up to 82,000 pounds total weight. 

This video, according to "Tesla stalker" Hinrichs Zane, shows the long-haul version of the Semi, meaning these Model 3s could be running over the road quite a ways. Overall, unless these Model 3s were somehow hollow, and the concrete dividers were too, the Semi's payload capacity has been pretty conclusively demonstrated. 

In the end, though, diesels likely get the last laugh. When Tesla ships out the CyberTruck, which weighs more than three full tons, it looks like the manufacturer's diesel fleet handles it. 

tesla diesel truckCalifornia Highway Patrol spotted these Cybertrucks out for delivery back in August, 2023.CHP Buttonwillow

Tesla Semi Diesel1CHP Buttonwillow

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