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Tesla electric semitruck unveiling delayed until October

Why it matters to you

Tesla electric semitruck could be a game-changing vehicle, and this could be your first look.

Earlier in 2017, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the company’s much-discussed electric semitruck would be unveiled in September. The world will have to wait a little longer for the first official look at this electric big rig, but an image posted to Reddit could give us an early glimpse at the vehicle’s design.

As you would expect from the all-electric automaker, the semitruck looks aerodynamic, futuristic, and downright elegant. The truck appears significantly shorter than the official teaser photo (above) at first glance, but keen-eyed Redditors theorized that the silver cap on the left could be the truck’s fairing and promptly photoshopped it on. Looks pretty close, doesn’t it? Tesla hasn’t officially commented on the photo thus far, so we may have to wait until the unveiling on October 26 for confirmation. For what it’s worth, Musk said on Twitter it will be “worth seeing this beast in person. It’s unreal.”

The leaked image will certainly bolster enthusiasm for what could be another game-changing product from Tesla. The brand is trying to do for the trucking industry what it has already done for the car industry: Make electric powertrains desirable. But that will be easier said than done.

The Tesla semitruck will have a range of 200 to 300 miles, according to a recent Reuters report. That is adequate for a passenger car, but not for a long-haul truck. Tesla may need to create a denser network of charging stations to meet truckers’ demands. It’s also unclear how much the Tesla truck will cost and whether it will carry a price premium over conventional diesel trucks. Granted, lower maintenance costs could prove attractive to operators.

While luxury automakers were completely blindsided by the Model S, truck manufacturers are prepared for a Tesla assault. Cummins, a manufacturer of diesel engines, recently unveiled a prototype electric truck of its own. Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler is building small batches of electric commercial trucks, albeit in different market segments than the one Tesla is eyeing.

Another company named after Nikola Tesla — Nikola Motor Company — unveiled a hydrogen semitruck in 2016 and plans to build a network of hydrogen stations for customers to use. Toyota is testing its own hydrogen semitruck in Los Angeles.

Regardless of which company comes out on top, zero-emission semitrucks could have a major environmental impact. Commercial trucks cover vastly more mileage than the average passenger car every year, but get much worse fuel economy. Converting semitrucks to battery or fuel-cell power could eliminate a lot of carbon emissions.

Update: We’ve added a new image that allegedly shows Tesla’s semitruck in the metal. 

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