The long-awaited Tesla semi truck certainly exceeded expectations when it debuted last month. However, researchers now question the cost at which the Tesla Semi gets its power.
The truck's debut was enough for Tesla CEO Elon Musk to say on Twitter, "This will blow your mind clear out of your skull and into an alternate dimension."
And one of the biggest promises in the press spectacle to unveil the truck? Tesla promised massive megachargers that would allow the truck to hit a 400-mile range (645 km) after only 30 minutes of charging. It would get truckers back on the road faster with the intent of saving companies time and resources normally allocated to refueling.
However, one group of professors from Oxford University question if the electricity needed to make the mega charger succeed really propels Tesla's 'green' mission.
The group, called Aurora Energy Research, is led by John Feddersen. Feddersen and his colleagues calculated that the power needed for the mega charger to fill just one truck battery in the promised 30 minutes would be approximated 1,600 kilowatts.
That power could provide sufficient energy to meet the needs of 3,000 to 4,000 "average" houses, the team noted in the Financial Times.
The researchers also determined that modern batteries and current battery tech "is incapable of supporting anything close to the 30 minute charging time Musk has promised for the new Tesla semi truck."
Feddersen also used the data to point out the debate surrounding exactly how grid infrastructures will need to change in order to facilitate a rising use of electric vehicles on the road -- not just Teslas.
“There are smart and dumb ways to incorporate this level of capacity requirement into the system, but either way, fully electrified road transport will need a large amount of new infrastructure,’’ Feddersen noted
For example, the National Grid oversees Britain's electricity system. They recently determined that in an 'extreme scenario,' electric cars and trucks could create an 18-gigawatt demand for power in addition to current needs in the UK by 2050.
As Tank Transport pointed out in their analysis, that's the equivalent of six nuclear power stations the size of the Hinkley Point project in England.
“The fastest chargers today can support up to around 450kW charging, so it’s not clear yet how Tesla will achieve its desired charging speeds,” said Colin McKerracher, head of advanced transport at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a consultancy.
Tesla's Energy History
Tesla has yet to come out and respond to the statements made against them by the Aurora Energy Research. However, the company continually pursues the biggest batteries around.
The company recently revealed a "supercharger station" in the U.S. outfitted to serve the Semi trucks.
Tesla has also done work with storage batteries to offset some of the demands placed on the electric grid. And, the company most recently helped South Australia handle its grid problems by scaling up their current lithium-ion batteries to become one of the biggest batteries in the world.
However, as Tesla develops bigger ideas, they'll need to scale up bigger resources to handle the promises.