Tesla Semi’s EPA Range Rating Will Simply Never Exist… Here’s Why

You’ll never know how far the Tesla Semi, Volvo VNR, or other electric semis will go under EPA testing standards. The answer is incredibly complex, but simply put, the EPA does not test or rate heavy-duty trucks for range ratings. Don’t expect the agency to tell you how far the Tesla Semi or other electric trucks will go, because testing just isn’t happening.

This allows manufacturers of heavy electric vehicles and tractor-trailers to have a profoundly unique ability to control the narrative surrounding how far their product can go on a full charge. As crazy as it sounds, customers getting into the all-electric Class 8 business trust the companies they buy from when rating what is arguably the most important measure of the ownership experience. an electric vehicle: autonomy.

Following the certification of the Tesla Semi by the EPA at the end of October, which Teslarati exclusively reported, we were bombarded with questions regarding the vehicle’s EPA lineup. Light passenger electric vehicles and their success can almost always be measured by how customers react to range ratings at unveiling events. When Lucid announced that it had successfully achieved an EPA-rated 520 miles of range on a single charge in the Air Dream Edition, the EV world was stunned. While the vehicle felt a high demand on the order logs, Lucid is still filling them to this day.

Meanwhile, other manufacturers are bringing vehicles to market with relatively “light” range projections or ratings. It’s always disappointing to see a vehicle with so much potential offer so little of what EV owners want: range. People don’t want to stop at EV chargers. They want to continue their journey on the roads.

Polestar’s recently unveiled Polestar 3 comes to mind when I (and some others) think of an amazing vehicle with not-so-amazing range and efficiency. Despite its 111kWh battery, the Polestar 3 only offers 379 miles of WLTP-rated range. WLTP ratings are generally much more generous than EPA ratings, so I expect the vehicle to achieve around 300 miles of range when the US agency gets their hands on it.

When light-duty vehicles are rated, approved, and earn certificates of compliance from the EPA, they are available for the public to read and include efficiency and range test results. This is where heavy vehicles and the testing process differ significantly from light vehicles.

Although these are two categories of vehicles purchased and used by consumers on public roads, only light-duty vehicles are rated for range ratings, while heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers lack the range of their products “evaluated, reported or included” in an application for certification, the EPA said in an emailed statement.

The EPA has many documents related to this idea, as well as the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). However, the documents never directly specified why heavy vehicles are not required to be tested by federal agencies. This does not mean that reasoning is not available.

Thing is, the agency may not have been ready to test heavy-duty electric vehicles for range ratings, especially so soon. A document found in the Federal Register that was submitted by the EPA and the Department of Transportation (USDOT) in 2016 entitled “Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles – Phase 2”, which established rules to reduce greenhouse gases, includes an interesting information regarding electric vehicles:

“Given the high initial costs and the developing nature of this technology, the agencies do not expect fully electric professional vehicles to be widely commercially available within the time frame of the final rules. For this reason, the agencies did not base the Stage 2 standards on the adoption of fully electric professional vehicles. We have received many comments on electric trucks and buses. Specifically, EEI provided information on the total cost of ownership of electric trucks, and some applications may have an attractive long-term cost. »

The final rules schedule is expected to end in 2027 and apply to 2027 model year vehicles, according to the document.

The agency acknowledged in 2016 that these technologies may be in development, and we all know they are. Since the EPA and NHTSA may not have been able to predict how quickly all-electric heavy-duty trucks would become a widespread part of U.S. logistics, the agencies knew this technology was coming in the future:

“Phase 2 will include technology advancement standards that will be phased in over the long term (to model year 2027) to culminate in an ambitious but achievable program that will allow manufacturers to meet the standards through a combination of of different technologies at a reasonable cost.The terminal requirements come into force in 2027 and would apply to vehicles of model year 2027 and later, unless changed by future regulations. of Phase 2 will maintain the underlying regulatory structure developed in the Phase 1 program, such as general categorization of VMDs and HDVs and separate standards for vehicles and engines. will build on and advance Phase 1 in several important ways, including: basing the standards not only on currently available technologies, but s also on the use of technologies that are under development or not yet widely deployed while providing significant lead time to ensure sufficient time to develop, test and implement these controls. »

So how do manufacturers determine range?

This is where things get really tricky because if the EPA isn’t testing the line itself as an unbiased government organization, that means the manufacturers are required to test the vehicles themselves, leaving consumers to do trust the companies they buy from.

Technically, manufacturers could say what they want about their electric trucks. Tesla has maintained strong range ratings for the Semi throughout its development, with Elon Musk recently saying the vehicle will have a range of 500 miles per charge, with a large payload. Of course, Tesla tested its vehicle internally and with the help of verified customers, like Frito Lay, who will take delivery of the first Semi on December 1.

It really comes down to independent testing. Volvo, for example, tested the range of its all-electric VNR Class 8 heavy-duty truck in a pilot program with third-party companies. As part of its LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) project, Volvo has commissioned companies such as NFI Industries to test the VNR in its commercial operations to prove and demonstrate the truck’s capability.

“By participating in the Volvo LIGHTS project, NFI is helping to prove that Volvo’s VNR electric trucks can handle the daily rigors of freight transport. NFI continues to be a leader in sustainability, and it shows in everything they do,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president of Volvo Trucks North America. “NFI realizes the immediate value that the electric VNR provides, not only by eliminating emissions, but by creating an enthusiastic workforce that complements the driving experience of these electric truck models.”

The LIGHTS project ran through 2021 and provided Volvo with “real-world operational data critical to the successful commercial scale-up of these vehicles”.

So how do you know how far an all-electric Class 8 heavy-duty vehicle can go? You could literally have to find out for yourself, or you can take the manufacturer’s word for it.

I would love to hear from you! If you have any comments, concerns, or questions, please email me at joey@teslarati.com. You can also reach me on Twitter @KlenderJoeyor if you have any topical tips, you can email us at tips@teslarati.com.

Tesla Semi’s EPA Range Rating Will Simply Never Exist… Here’s Why

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