More than a year since unveiling the vehicle, Tesla continues to conduct real-world tests of the Semi across the United States. In its recent sighting, the Semi was spotted while it was charging at the iconic and quirky Madonna Inn, located at San Luis Obispo, CA. This time around, the sighting provided what could very well be the first glimpse at Tesla’s temporary “Megacharger” solution for the Semi test mule.
When Elon Musk unveiled the Tesla Semi, he noted that the vehicle would be supported by a network of “Megachargers,” which are capable of replenishing 400 miles of range in as little as 30 minutes of charging. Unlike the Supercharger Network, which has a power output of roughly 120 kW, speculations are high that Tesla’s Megacharger will see around ten times the power levels. During the vehicle’s unveiling, an image was taken of the long-hauler’s charging port, revealing an 8-pin configuration that’s noticeably larger than the Supercharger ports found on the Model S, X, and 3.
Tesla’s Megacharger Network is yet to be built, though some reservation holders of the long-hauler are already installing dedicated charging stations for the Semi in some of their key facilities. Considering that the Semi test mule is currently conducting real-world tests across the United States, though, Tesla has been utilizing a temporary charging solution for the vehicle using its existing Supercharger Network. That said, the electric car maker has been notably secretive about the Semi prototype’s temporary “Megacharger” system. That is, until recently.
The Tesla Semi charging at the Madonna Inn Supercharger. [Credit: jerryswhip/Instagram]
During the vehicle’s recent sighting at Madonna Inn, a part of the Semi’s charger was photographed and shared online by auto enthusiast jerryswhip on Instagram. A member of the r/TeslaMotors subreddit who was present at the Semi’s sighting, u/Jace11, further noted that the long-hauler was connected to a hub that was, in turn, linked to three Supercharger stations. This hub seems to be visible in one of the images taken of the vehicle, as a contraption with a red light could be seen in the area beside the Semi’s charging port.
Following its charging session at the Madonna Inn Supercharger, the Semi headed back into the highway towards San Francisco. Footage taken by Tesla enthusiast Steven M. Conroy showcased the Semi’s impressive speed once more, while capturing the vehicle’s unique, unearthly sound as it accelerated on the freeway. At several points in the video, the now-iconic futuristic whine of the vehicle’s four Model 3-derived electric motors was clearly audible.
The Tesla Semi sighted at the Madonna Inn Supercharger. [Credit: jerryswhip/Instagram]
Being a vehicle designed to compete in the trucking industry, the Semi has the potential to be the most disruptive offering from Tesla. The vehicle, after all, has several features that make it a viable alternative to diesel-powered semi-trailers, from its four Model 3-derived electric motors, its comparable Class 8 hauling capacity, to its superior speed. In true Tesla fashion, the company continues to develop and improve the Semi, with President of Automotive Jerome Guillen stating that the all-electric truck has been given notable improvements since it was unveiled last year. Some of the Semi’s improvements have been teased by Elon Musk earlier this year as well, with the CEO stating that the long-range variant of the vehicle would have closer to 600 miles of range per charge.
The Tesla Semi has attracted a notable amount of support from several high-profile companies, including PepsiCo, JB Hunt, UPS, and FedEx, to name a few. Even foreign companies such as ASKO in Norway and Bee’ah in the Middle East have also placed orders for the electric long-hauler. Tesla is yet to announce where the Semi would be manufactured, though the company is expected to start producing the vehicle sometime in 2019.
Watch the Tesla Semi leave the Madonna Inn Supercharger and accelerate on the highway in the video below.