The Tesla big-rig gets rid of something truckers have done forever

The Tesla big-rig gets rid of something truckers have done forever

Tesla semitruck


No clutch.

  • Tesla revealed its big-rig on Thursday night.
  • The all-electric Tesla Semi eliminates the conventional clutch and gears of traditional big-rigs.
  • The Tesla Semi should also have far better brake life than traditional rigs.

HAWTHORNE, California - Tesla revealed its all-electric big-rig on Thursday night in Los Angeles, and not surprisingly, the massive machine has done away with a long-standing trucker skill.

There's no clutch, and there are no gears. For decades, grinding through the many gears of a big-rig has been an essential trucker skill. But the Tesla Semi, as the company is calling it, puts an end to that.

"The Tesla Semi requires no shifting or clutching for smooth acceleration and deceleration," Tesla said in a statement, "and its regenerative braking gives it basically infinite brake life."

Regenerative braking is a technology that enables electric and hybrid-electric vehicles to use the energy expended while braking to recharge their batteries.


"Overall, the Semi is more responsive, covers more miles than a diesel truck in the same amount of time, and more safely integrates with passenger car traffic," Tesla added.

Electric vehicles effectively have only a single gear, so the 18-speeds of a diesel rig aren't necessary. Nor are the heavy clutches these trucks use to shift gears.

I once received a tutorial on how to shift gears from a big-rig trucker, and it truly is an impressive skill. Truckers take pride in their knowledge, but many would also welcome a break from the demands of managing the massive torque and power that traditional semis produce.

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