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[Image above] Credit: Real Engineering; YouTube

Tesla has become a household name in the past several years with its high-priced electric cars, batteries, and solar energy products. But more importantly, the company has made a name for itself with its unique business model.

And late last year, Tesla introduced its latest innovation—an all-electric Class 8 truck. And if you know anything about truck classifications, that is one really huge semi. It can accelerate from 0–60 mph with an 80k load in 20 seconds, according to the website. Personally, I don’t know if that’s a good thing for a semi to do. But I digress.

The Tesla Semi, available in 300- and 500-mile ranges, is expected to consume less than 2 kWh per mile. And the company claims the truck will provide over $200,000 in fuel savings and a two-year payback period. Global delivery giant UPS is betting on Tesla’s promises, as it recently placed an order for 125 Tesla Semis—Tesla’s biggest truck order so far.

In the transportation sector, the trucking industry currently contributes nearly a quarter (23%) of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the EPA. So, if more of these behemoths could replace traditional semis, that could be a good thing for the environment.

But there will always be someone to challenge new technology. Brian McManus, an engineer from Ireland and YouTube content creator, was concerned when Elon Musk failed to disclose the weight of the empty truck in its launch. That will determine how much cargo it can carry so the buyer will know how quickly he can get a return on investment, McManus says in a video. McManus suspects Musk did not disclose this because he anticipates the energy density of batteries to substantially improve by the time truck production begins in 2019.

A larger battery will allow the truck to go further but carry less payload, and a smaller battery will allow for more payload but a smaller driving range. A diesel truck, he explains, can carry 20+ tons over a range of 900 miles.

McManus wanted to calculate the energy of what the batteries will need to provide the two trucks and how much they will weigh. How much energy would each truck consume for a given range? The result was an interactive website with a physics equation of battery capacity needed, including constants and variables such as drag coefficient and range that users can change. His video goes through the equation step by step.

Watch the video below to see the conclusions he draws from his calculations.

Credit: Real Engineering; YouTube

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