Tesla's semitruck ─ what to expect

Tesla is unveiling its first semitruck concept on Thursday night in California, marking a major shift for a company that started out building two-seat electric sports cars over a decade ago.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the truck “will blow your mind clear out of your skull and into an alternate dimension,” but hasn’t offered many details on how exactly it will do that.

Here’s what we do know:

It’s sleek.

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on

A shadowy, animated teaser of the truck that Musk posted to Instagram reveals an aerodynamically-designed body with a wraparound windshield and what appear to be thin stalks for video cameras that replace side view mirrors. The low-drag design should help maximize the range of its battery pack.

It will go pretty far.

A Ryder executive who claims to have been briefed on the truck says he expects it will have a 200-300 mile range. This suggests it will be marketed for use on daily routes, not as a long haul vehicle, which is supported by what appears to be its day cab design. However, Musk tweeted that its “specs are better than anything I've seen reported so far,” so its range could turn out to be much greater.

It won’t be cheap.

New conventional class 8 semi tractors cost over $100,000, but some analysts have estimated that the Tesla’s battery pack alone could cost more than that. Possibly much, much more.

It actually works.

A video of what is reportedly a test mule for the truck was posted to YouTube over a year ago. The silent semi has no exhaust pipes and appears to be a conventional truck that’s been converted to run on electric power.

Spoiler alert: We've already seen it

The semi was spotted undisguised at a Tesla testing facility parked next to the mule from the video and captured in a photo that ran on Electrek. It looks just like the one from the teaser, but with its roof cowling removed. Somewhat ironically, it’s on a trailer that’s attached to an old fashioned diesel rig.