Inside Tesla’s New Electric Semi-Truck
Tesla’s design aesthetic, which has been led by Franz von Holzhausen, has helped it amass a committed fan base as well as some equally passionate detractors. Regardless of whether a person loves or loathes them, a Tesla is unmistakable.
The Tesla Semi, the all-electric heavy-duty truck CEO Elon Musk unveiled Nov. 16, is no different. And not just because it shares a number of parts with its new mass-market passenger vehicle the Model 3, including the same motor, handles, and display screen.
Fortune had a chance to get inside the Tesla Semi before the reveal. Here are the details that stood out.
Approaching the cab, you immediately notice the angled windshield wipers—which look a lot like the one on the new Roadster prototype unveiled at the same event—and the shiny chrome door handles that are also on the new Model 3 passenger vehicle.
There are no exterior steps like you might find on a traditional truck. Instead, the door is long and low. Once the door is opened a set black steps are inside.
Walking up the short, steep steps, a long handle ready for support if needed, you arrive at the landing. This area is essentially divided into two areas. The big takeaway here is there is quite a bit of space, and the ceiling height is high enough to allow a person to stand upright. Towards the front of the cab is a central captain’s chair that is flanked by two display screens, one on each side. The screens are the same as the one inside the Model 3.
The captain’s chair has air suspension, giving it a bouncy feel. Sitting the chair you immediately become aware of how forward you’re sitting. Designers were able to push the seating area forward in this cab because there is no engine, transmission, and other traditional diesel truck bits to get in the way. The result is similar to what it feels like to drive a VW bus.
In the cockpit area, there are a number of cup holders. Many, many cup holders. There are also several areas to stow items, including in the door.
The photo below isn’t the best representation of the actual size of the interior, which in person seems bigger.
Behind the captain’s chair, and to the right, is a secondary seat that is stiffer and without the bounciness of the main one.
In the back there are two overhead compartments that are similar to what you might find in an airplane.
Keep in mind, that the Tesla Semi revealed last week is a testing prototype. Which means it will likely go through a series of small changes as the company prepares to produce it. It’s also possible that production of the Tesla Semi will be delayed, or fail altogether. The company is already facing enormous challenges as it tries to work through production issues with its mass-marketing passenger vehicle, the Model 3, and the growing list of other projects the company is pursuing.
Tesla will go up against other companies trying to develop electric semi-trucks and smaller delivery vehicles. Other potential rivals include Bosch, Cummins, and Daimler. A number of companies such as Siemens have pilot programs already in place to test the viability of electrifying commercial trucks. And there are a few startups also pursuing the some variant of that electric trucking or delivery van goal, including Chanje, Nikola, and Wrightspeed.