Tesla is a clear leader in the electric vehicle industry with its models leading indifferent categories. It has the model s which holds the record of the fastest electric car in production. Tesla also has an upcoming battery-powered pickup truck and class 8 truck.
Tesla however has an empty category an Electric Van but that is about to change as the tesla van is here.
While Tesla has focused on other vehicle categories and found tremendous success other companies have been working on battery-powered vans for example Rivian made a splash when it secured a 100 000 unit electric van order from Amazon the online retail giant plans to use the vans for deliveries to reduce its carbon footprint globally
The contract however is not surprising as Amazon is the largest investor in Rivian so Jeff Bezos is taking money out of one pocket and putting it into another. Amazon has started making test deliveries with the electric vans in locations in us British automobile maker Arrival also has the electric van targeted at last-mile product delivery as it too wants to key into the trend to make every step of package delivery green it is a walk-in the van that a rival is offering in different heights and lengths
Arrival will build the vans using the micro-factory concept to reduce the capital investment and commissioning timelines drastically it plans to bring the vans to market by the third quarter of 2022. Even traditional automakers like Ford and Mercedes-Benz are getting into the electric vehicle game.
Ford unveiled its e-transit electric cargo van in November 2020 while Mercedes-Benz plans to sell the fully electric version of its sprinter
van in the u.s starting in 2023. General Motors also announced plans to roll out electric vans in January. All these however are not enough to deter tesla from stepping into the electric van segment.
Tesla CEO Elon musk stated the condition that has to be met to commence production of a tesla van during the conference call of the last quarter of 2020 musk tied the production of the tesla van the availability of battery cells that the requirement is understandable as an electric van needs more battery than a regular electric car. This battery requirement affected other tesla vehicles at that point including the cyber truck and the tesla semi
Fast forward to the present and the story is different tesla has made lots of progress with its 4680 battery with plenty of improvements to boast off, for instance, the new battery weighs considerably less and packs more active materials which lead to higher energy densities, meaning it would yield a more extended driving range. The battery is also safer in operation and costs less to build it is just the perfect battery for a tesla electric van.
To ensure it has enough battery cells for the electric van and its other vehicles, Tesla is working with several battery partners like Panasonic and LG to build factories however it is also building the battery factories it decided to add a battery plant to Giga berlin earlier this year making it necessary to reapply the permits from the German authorities. By the end of 2022 tesla plan to have gigabit lin and kicker texas output at 100 gigawatt-hours worth of battery annually,
Tesla is also rumored to be in talks with byd in China to use its blades battery cells which are quite similar to its own 4680 batteries whichever way the tesla electric van will have enough batteries. Before we get to the use cases of the new tesla van let’s talk about the structure of the van the tesla electric van is built on top of a structural battery this became apparent after the company announced it would move away from the industry’s skateboard architecture that is the standard
Tesla had made the skateboard-like platform popular with its roadster but has decided it’s time to move on to the first vehicle to benefit from the new structural batteries are the model Y made at Giga berlin from then on all future vehicles from tesla will have the structural battery. Tesla got the idea of building a structural battery from the aerospace industry practice of building the fuel tanks inside the wings for a car tesla will make a battery pack that works as a body structure then build the
rear and front end of the chassis as two single pieces using its famously
powerful Giga presets so the battery pack serves as the structural platform of the vehicle and the battery cells help solidify the platform as one big unit
This is an industry-standard defying move as other EV makers try to protect the battery while tesla wants to use it as an integral structural part of its electric vehicles. The advantages are significant which will help the tesla van for instance this method reduces the number of parts needed to make a chassis by many magnitudes using the car as an.
For example, tesla says it will eliminate 370 parts this is huge as it means fewer opportunities for failure there is also far less welding riveting and sealing involved which will reduce the production time considerably. The tesla van will also, weigh less compared to other vans going back to the car example tesla says structural batteries will reduce the total mass by 10%. The good thing about a weight reduction is that it leads to an increase in the range the tesla cars use structural batteries stand to gain a 14% increase in driving range.
With all these benefits coming to the tesla van it will not struggle with range on the road there is another interesting feature the musk spoke about concerning the electric van which we will look at next
You’ve probably heard of solar electric vehicles secs they’re a sub-segment of the electric vehicle industry they come with solar panels that allow them to harvest energy from the sun when parked on the road, examples include the light-year one from a dutch startup this model is high-end as it costs around 165 thousand dollars but you will get a massive 450 miles range per charge
You will also be able to add about 7.5 miles per hour through the solar panels embedded in the roof and hood the solar panels on the light-year one are among the most efficient in the industry. The tesla van is going to be a SUV but before we go into the details will the addition of solar panels make the van very expensive? not really!
As SUVs do not have to be exorbitant in the price you just have to look at what another EV startup based in Germany is working on its scion city car sells for 28,500 euros before incentives kick in the photovoltaic cells embedded in the car’s body can add up to 22 miles of driving range on a sunny day.
So what do solar panels on the tesla, van looks like musk talks about it on the Joe Rogan podcast where he loves to chat about his company and personal life it had crossed the mind of the tesla design team to embed solar panels in its vehicles, this is a no-brainer as tesla has a plant in buffalo that makes solar panels. however, musk explained to Rogan that it had not been worth it equipping any of tesla’s currently offered vehicles with solar panels would raise the cost of the car exponentially while not giving enough value to drivers would pay for the feature. The issue is most passenger vehicles do not have the surface area or are they driven in the correct climate to make the installation of solar panels an advantageous solution to our driving range.
Some have tried this in the past with DIY projects but it hasn’t resulted in much effectiveness to justify it as an option for Tesla. however, a van is a different case as the large van will have a larger surface area to include more solar panels so that the energy produced would be worth it.
Now a van because you have a big flat the area that’s actually where solar could start to make a little more sense you know because you have a lot of areas you could also have maybe a roof where it is solar and then when it is stationary the roof goes out and provides shade and maybe triples your area or something like that.
Now you triple the area and you have a big flat surface you can maybe start charging enough where you start getting like 30 miles a day. Musk’s estimate of 30 miles per day might mean you do not have to plug in to charge the battery for days at a time. Some drivers do not cover that much distance per day.
Now to the use cases of the tesla van during a recent meeting with his staff tesla mentioned the van would transport large numbers of people at a time this will fit in with musk’s plan to build underground tunnels where autonomous vehicles would move around at a cost-effective rate The boring company has been carrying out a trial at the las vegas convention
Center using tesla cars but the tesla van is a better fit for the job musk also hinted the tesla van would cater to the disabled few electric vehicles offer this but the tesla van will have features that make ingress and egress easy for people with disabilities.