Tesla has revealed its first electric truck, a gigantic lorry founder Elon Musk hopes will force diesel vehicles off the road.
It will seat four people and is capable of driving around 500 miles on a single charge, Musk said during a presentation in California.
The electric car company also unveiled a sporty new Roadster, a red sports car which wowed the assembled crowd by driving out of the back of the truck.
The Tesla Semi is designed to make jack-knifing “impossible” through separate motors for each of the wheels, which can detect uneven weight distribution and automatically correct it to avoid the rear end swinging dangerously across motorway lanes.
It also features the autopilot and lane-keeping technology present in Tesla’s current vehicles, and can gain enough power to travel 400 miles while charging for half an hour.
Musk joked on Twitter the vehicle could also “transform into a robot, fight aliens and make one hell of a latte”.
It can transform into a robot, fight aliens and make one hell of a latte pic.twitter.com/8h9vvWu4f5— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 15, 2017
Tesla faces stiff competition in the electric truck sector, as Volkswagen AG, Daimler and Navistar are already working on rival vehicles.
Diesel drivers in the UK are facing higher taxes as part of the Government’s Clean Air Strategy ahead of next week’s Budget.
The Government has already pledged to stop the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040 as it moves to reduce traffic-related air pollution. While petrol engines produce more CO2, diesel are responsible for more of the harmful NOx and small particulate pollution.
Standard diesel trucks are 20 per cent more expensive to operate per mile than the Semi, Musk claimed.
Reservations for the Semi start at $5,000 and production will begin in 2019, while the Roadster will go on sale in 2020, he added.
Tesla’s first electric car was also called Roadster, and was manufactured between 2008 and 2012.
The new Roadster sports a removable glass roof and can drive up to 620 miles on a single charge. It will also reach speeds of 0-60 mph in 1.9 seconds, and 0-100mph in just 4.2 seconds, Musk claimed.
”You’ll be able to travel from LA to San Francisco, and back, at highway speed without recharging. The point of doing this is to just give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars. Driving a gasoline sports car is going to feel like a steam engine with a side of quiche,” he added.
Early Roadster customers can expect to pay $250,000 (£188,600) for the first 1,000 vehicles off the production line, while later models will retail from $200,000. Tesla did not
The announcement comes at a tense moment for Tesla. The company fired hundreds of workers across its engineering, management and factory divisions last month, as delays in the production of its latest Model 3 car look likely to continue.
Despite a waiting list of more than 450,000 customers the Model 3, Tesla produced just 260 of the cars during its last quarter, spectacularly missing its target of 1,500 models.
Who is Elon Musk?
Elon Musk, 46, is the South African-born mastermind behind SpaceX and electric car company Tesla Motors. Mr Musk also founded software company Zip2 and financial service X.com, which later merged with PayPal. He is currently waiting on approval from his shareholders to acquire solar power system provider SolarCity. With an estimated net worth of $11.5bn (£9.4bn), he is the 83rd wealthiest person on the planet, and has now set his sights on other galactic territories: namely Mars. The father of six envisions humans living on Mars from 2024, saying he wants to lower the risk of human extinction “by making life multiplanetary”.