Tech pioneer and co-founder of Microsoft Bill Gates published a blog post earlier this month detailing his position on the next generation of transport. And while Gates endorsed all-electric cars, he maintained that certain forms of automobiles, such as heavy-duty equipment such as 18-wheelers, would never really work out if they were only battery driven.
Instead, Gates clarified that other innovations would work best for tasks like long-haul travel, such as inexpensive alternative fuels. The co-founder of Microsoft listed biofuels and electrofuels as superior alternatives to heavy-duty battery-electric machines, partly due to their compatibility with the trucks which are already operating today.
“The problem is that batteries are big and heavy. The more weight you’re trying to move, the more batteries you need to power the vehicle. But the more batteries you use, the more weight you add—and the more power you need. Even with big breakthroughs in battery technology, electric vehicles will probably never be a practical solution for things like 18-wheelers, cargo ships, and passenger jets. Electricity works when you need to cover short distances, but we need a different solution for heavy, long-haul vehicles,” Gates wrote.
Elon Musk, for his part, recently shared his stance on Gates’ recent statement. When asked on Twitter about his thoughts on the Microsoft co-founder’s points about batteries and long-haul trucking, the Tesla CEO offered a quick, direct rebuttal. “He has no clue,” he wrote.
As the assertion by Musk is clear, rebuttal by the Tesla CEO can very well prove to be a key argument for long-haul battery-electric trucks. After all, Tesla has been developing its battery tech obsessively over the years and the results of all this work are expected to be addressed in the upcoming Battery Day. The event, to be held this September 22nd, is expected to include a detailed discussion on Tesla’s next-generation battery cells, which would probably be instrumental in launching even more innovative, revolutionary vehicles and energy products.
For example, Tesla’s next vehicles, such as the Plaid Model S, Model X, Semi and Cybertruck, are all rumored to be fitted with next-generation cells. And Tesla being the way it is, there’s a very strong chance the electric car manufacturer won’t stop on Battery Day with the technology it’ll be unveiling. Innovations will continue, work will be done on more advanced cells, focus will be put on recycling and batteries will get much better over time. For his part, Elon Musk has claimed that 400 Wh/kg batteries with high cycle life and ready for mass production are theoretically only 3 to 4 years away and 400 Wh/kg is the point where all-electric flights could be made possible.
Ultimately, the opposing views of Musk and Gates on electric long-haulers like the Tesla Semi will probably be determined by the vehicle’s output itself when it’s released. Fortunately, the market does not seem to have to wait too long, given that Elon Musk has noted that the Semi is already in a position to enter volume production. If the Semi gets adopted by long-haul companies because of its low operating cost, efficiency and software, and if its capabilities prove better than those reported in its unveiling, the vehicle might end up being a Microsoft co-founder’s Class 8 humbling device.
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