Tesla Semi is unlawful in Australia, so it’s lobbying to change regulations – Roadshow

Tesla Semi

Not for you, Australia. At least not yet.


Tesla

Should regulations as they stand stay in place, Australia will not see any Tesla Semi trucks on local roads. Tesla has something to say about that, however, and submitted its own comments during a regulatory review process begun by the country’s National Transport Commission last year. In a document (PDF) dated Dec. 3, 2020, but published this month, Tesla argued in favor of changing local regulations to ensure its electric semi truck can operate on Australian roads.

Right now, any vehicle wider than 2.5 meters (roughly 8.2 feet) cannot operate on local roads. The Tesla Semi is up to two inches wider than current regulations allow, and that’s where the problem comes in.

“Currently, Australia will likely miss out on the first generation of electric heavy vehicles such as the Tesla Semi because of this,” the automaker wrote in its submission to the public record. Tesla also notes the US allows vehicles up to 8.5 feet wide, and even the European Union (chock-full of narrow roads) green-lights vehicles up to 8.4 feet wide. 

“Australia’s small size in comparison to global markets, [and] inconsistencies like this between Australian regulations and larger markets will delay or preclude vehicles coming to local markets,” Tesla argued further. The company also spent quite some time underscoring climate change and the local effects it has had on Australia, specifically the catastrophic bush fires in early 2020. In this respect, Tesla pitches itself as a way to help the country decarbonize the transportation sector, while underscoring its entry may spur competitors to also begin the sale of electric heavy-duty vehicles. The public comment period on the proposed changes to allow wider vehicles on local roads closed last year and the NTC plans to reveal its final recommendations this coming May.

The Semi was supposed to be here by now, but Tesla’s usual delays have kept it from customers. As of now, the best information we have is that the big electric truck will come this year. In 2020, a leaked email from CEO Elon Musk noted the Semi is ready for volume production, though it didn’t include more specifics. Production should take place at Tesla’s new factory in Austin, Texas. When it launches, it should boast a 500-mile range and help electrify the fleets of numerous companies, including Walmart.

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