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The Future: A Self-Driving, Zero-Emissions Tesla Motorhome?

Emily Dao

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Back in November 2017, Tesla unveiled its new Semi. Consumers were excited then, but now, with production plans set for 2020, the truck has only continued to pick up speed. CEO Elon Musk said the fully-electric, heavy-duty truck “rides like a sports car,” without spewing harmful emissions and thunderous noise.

Many were captivated by the reveal of this sleek, eco-friendly vehicle, and some even dreamt up new ways to vamp up the new ride and drive it into the future. 

It’s one thing to drive a Tesla⁠. Ever thought about living in one too? Well, a startup just released a prototype exploring that possibility.

Introducing the Tesla Semi RV.

What Would a Tesla Semi-Home Entail?

Vanlifer designed a concept prototype for what it dubbed the “Tesla Semi-Home,” with the Tesla Semi acting as the base of the electric campervan. A concept sketch by the company showed the motorhome would be able to fit 6 passengers, and would be equipped with all the same commodities as other luxury motorhomes and RVs — a full kitchen, seating areas, bathroom, and beds. 

Tesla semi-home prototypes from Vanlifer. Source: Vanlifer
Tesla semi-home prototypes from Vanlifer. Source: Vanlifer

The company also pointed out a Tesla Semi would save drivers around $200,000 in fuel over the course of two years. Plus, not only would an all-electric motorhome save some big bucks, but it would also be significantly more environmentally conscious. 

“Its [the Tesla Semi] range of up to 500 miles (fully loaded) makes it ideal for motorhomes,” the company wrote on their website. “So you can clock up some big drive days without the accompanying gas-guzzling guilt.”

The Tesla Semi’s Features Make It Ideal for Building a Motorhome

Vanlifer added that Tesla’s enhanced self-driving function, Autopilot, could also be an exciting new asset for a potential motorhome, especially for drivers taking long, scenic road trips.

“The enhanced autopilot also has us really excited as it means the driver has more time to take in the scenery of the drive, rather than worrying about driving itself,” the startup stated. 

Several major corporations such as Pepsi and Walmart have already made their reservations. Source: Alexis Georgeson/Tesla
Several major corporations such as Pepsi and Walmart have already made their reservations. Source: Alexis Georgeson/Tesla

Some other notable features about the Semi include its 500-mile range on a single 30-minute charge and ability to go from 0-60mph in 20 seconds, even with 80,000 pounds of cargo. Without cargo, Tesla said the truck will be able to accelerate from 0-60mph at 5 seconds flat.

Let’s Talk About Cost

For the Semi with up to a 300-mile range, it’s projected to cost $150,000, while one up to a 500-mile range will be about $180,000. 

Since 2017, customers have had the option to reserve Tesla’s long-anticipated vehicle online. Currently, to reserve a standard Semi, it costs around $20,000. However, to reserve the limited production “founders series” version of the truck, it would set one back $200,000. Nonetheless, Business Insider reports that several major corporations such as Pepsi and Walmart have already bought in

While these figures may seem pretty daunting, Vanlifer argues that the price is reasonable. In fact, the company said online, the price for the Semi “really isn’t much for a luxury, high-end motorhome.” 

Still, this price doesn’t include the trailer for the motorhome. 

Conclusions

The Environmental Defense Fund reports cars produce roughly 333 million tons of CO2 annually. (That’s 20% of global carbon-dioxide emissions.) Consequently, people have switched to everything from bikes to public transit to reduce their carbon footprint.

But as the Semi reaches the market, maybe a future with net-zero emissions won’t entail cutting cars. As seen from the minds at Tesla and Vanlifer, it might just require a little more imagination. 

Transportation

Elon Musk Announces The Tesla Cybertruck: What We Know So Far

Steven Li

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Just yesterday, Elon Musk announced the new Tesla Cybertruck. And it has already gotten quite a bit of attention. Beginning production in 2021, having a starting price of just over $39,000, being able to go 500 miles on a single full charge, and having an entirely different design compared to all other Tesla vehicles, the truck is a beast of its own.

What To Expect From The Tesla Cybertruck

In Tesla’s marketing materials, it describes the Cybertruck as one that “has better utility than a truck with more performance than a sports car”.

It has a robust exoskeleton, which the company has designed to optimize for the truck’s durability. On the exterior of the Tesla Cybertruck, the company has chosen to leverage stainless steel to protest against dents.

The exterior of the Tesla Cybertruck.
The exterior of the Tesla Cybertruck. Image Credit: Tesla

The truck also has a 3,500-pound payload capacity and can tow a whopping 14,000 pounds, according to Tesla.

Even still, the truck can go from zero to 60 miles-per-hour is just 2.9 seconds.

Towing Capacity
The Cybertruck can tow over 14,000 pounds. Image Credit: Tesla

It, like other models, also comes with a premium option to include software for self-driving capabilities.

Competition And Implications

But the market won’t be easy to take. So far, the Rivian R1T and the (EV) Ford F Series have projections to both beat Tesla to market. Though in comparison, the R1T goes for about $30,000 more than the Tesla Cybertruck.

And on the other hand, the Ford F Series starts at a price point about $10,000 lower than the pickup truck; currently, it is still gas-powered. And like Elon has said in the past, the Cybertruck indeed has the F-Series beat.

Considering the current Cybertruck prototype, some experts believe consumers will favor Rivian or Ford due to their less polarizing designs. Here’s what they look like:

Rivian's R1T
Rivian’s R1T
Ford's F-Series
Ford’s F-Series

But considering its incredible specs, especially at its price point, the Tesla Cybertruck will be a force to be reckoned with. Rivian projects to launch its R1T by the end of 2020, reaching the market before Tesla by just a few months.

The race is on.

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Business

The Latest Tesla Sustainability Initiative: Patenting Sustainable Car Seat Foam

Maryanne Derkaloustian

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Tesla sustainability

Tesla vehicles are some of the most environmentally-friendly, but the company just showed more sustainability promise with a new seat patent. Though the company launched cruelty-free seats in 2017, the patent underscores its continued commitment. Today’s cars are way ahead of their predecessors in terms of energy usage and emissions. This, however, makes it easier for companies to neglect other factors.

The Problem With Traditional Seats

Polyurethanes typically make up the base of the common car seat. Looking into replacements is only necessary, since in this case, they are neither recyclable nor breathable.

Other varieties are also used in bumpers, doors, windows, spoilers, and other parts, so getting rid of it could be a long process.

Making the foam itself, though, is a tedious, time-consuming process, which entails pouring and mixing a whole cocktail of chemicals.

Shaping the material after that produces a lot of non-recyclable leftovers that have nowhere to go but landfills.

Tesla Sustainability Push Includes Patented Sustainable Fibrous Foam

While the star of this patent is the “architecture” of the foam, it is important to remember the materials involved.

The Tesla sustainability push entails a choice of low-melt polymers that are easier to repurpose for future use.

And although the processing methods it plans to adopt may require more attention to detail, Tesla can reduce a significant amount of manufacturing waste.

Ultimately, the company aims to use this technology in other “foamy” car parts. Consequently, that will help minimize even more non-recyclable waste.

Summary

It is especially important for a company like Tesla to switch gears like this. While other companies like Ford are nearing their zero-waste goals, 40% of Tesla’s raw materials still go straight to landfills.

However, the two companies switch places when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions. With mixed information available to the general public, it can be hard to tell how sustainable companies actually are.

Companies should keep all of this in mind. Because in the end, their every move leaves a mark on the planet.

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GreenTech

Hyundai launches car with a solar charging system in a push for sustainability

Steven Li

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Image Credit: Hyundai

Just Friday, Hyundai announced the launch of its first car with a solar roof charging system, which would be first introduced to the newest Sonata Hybrid. Promising to roll out the technology to other cars in the future, the company’s move is its first of many.

Fundamentally, introducing the solar roof should help improve fuel efficiency, boost electric power, and reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. According to the company’s announcement, its silicon panels would allow for between 30 and 60 percent of the car’s battery to be charged through solar.

The impact? Apparently, six hours of daily charging could add over extra 800 miles to the car’s travel distance. To the consumer, that means convenience and saving a whole lot on gasoline.

For now, Hyundai is looking to have its solar roof play a supporting role in powering its cars. Its long term goal is to make powering cars with fossil fuels an obsolete concept, the company alludes. Its new Sonata Hybrid is a small step in the right direction.

Because the Sonata Hybrid does still run partially on gasoline, it does still emit the same greenhouse gases as conventional passenger vehicles. However, it is (and will be) far more fuel-efficient. On average, hybrid cars emit greenhouse gases in a quantity of over 30% less compared to their gasoline-run counterparts.

But the debate over whether electricity is actually cleaner than gasoline still remains. Currently, over 45% of the electricity generated in the United States comes from coal-powered plants. Hyundai is going in the right direction, but still, there are many challenges ahead.

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