Days after Bill Gates opined that “electrification isn’t an option for many types of transportation” in his blog GatesNotes, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has hit back. In response to a question by a Twitter user asking his views on Gates’ opinion about powering electric trucks, Musk tweeted his reply without mincing words saying “he (Gates) has no clue.” Gates in his blog on August 24 while stressing on EVs being a great option for short-haul travel had added that “electric vehicles will probably never be a practical solution for things like 18-wheelers, cargo ships, and passenger jets.”
The problem with long-range EVs, according to Gates, is that their batteries are big and heavy. Hence, “the more weight you’re trying to move, the more batteries you need to power the vehicle.” However, the more batteries are used, the more weight is added and for that one needs more power. “We need a different solution for heavy, long-haul vehicles,” he added stressing on cheap alternative fuels such as biofuels which, according to Gates are a lot different from first-generation ones like ethanol. He said that while some are made from plants that aren’t grown for food, so they need little to no fertilizer. Others are made from agricultural byproducts, such as corn stalks and the pulp that is leftover from making paper. “Some of these fuels can even be dropped into existing engines without any modifications needed.”
Tesla is building its ‘Semi’ all-electric trucks in which it has invested heavily. Announced back 2017, the trucks were supposed to be delivered to buyers in 2019 but the company delayed its production and deliveries to 2021 in order to lower the cost of making batteries and improve its quality.
“If you don’t improve that, you end up shifting unit volume from one part to another and you haven’t actually produced more electric vehicles. That’s one reason we have not accelerated production of the Tesla Semi. Because it does use a lot of cells. Unless we have got those cells available, then accelerating production of the Semi would mean making fewer Model 3 or other cars,” Musk had said during the company Q4 2019 earnings call in January this year. The base price is $150k for around 482 km range truck and $180k for around 804 km mile range truck.