Tesla Semi with Model X in tow is an “aircraft carrier”, teases Jerome Guillen

In a rather rare social media post, Jerome Guillen, Tesla’s President of Automotive, shared an image of a vehicle that truly lies close to his heart — the Tesla Semi. The Automotive President’s post features the all-electric long-hauler parked at a Supercharger while pulling a trailer loaded with a Tesla Model X. Jerome even cleverly captioned his image with the words “Aircraft Carrier?” — a fun reference to the electric SUV’s open Falcon Wing Doors. 

The recently-shared picture of the Tesla Semi was taken at the Kettleman City Supercharger, a site located between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The location is one of the United States’ largest Superchargers with 40 charging stalls, solar panel-equipped roofs, and a comfortable lounge for travelers stopping over to charge their vehicles. The site is also the same Supercharger where the red Tesla Semi prototype was sighted a few weeks back. 

Since becoming Tesla’s President of Automotive last September, Guillen’s uploads of the all-electric long-hauler have become rather elusive. That said, his recently uploaded Tesla Semi post was certainly worth the wait, since the image could very well be the first picture of the upcoming electric truck with a completely new cargo and trailer.

The Tesla Semi carrying a Model X. (Photo: Jerome Guillen/LinkedIn)

The Tesla Semi is expected to be a vehicle that can disrupt the trucking market in the same way that the Model S and Model 3 are disrupting the full-size and mid-size sedan segments. The vehicle incited a lot of raised eyebrows when it was initially announced by CEO Elon Musk, thanks to its impressive specs that include a 300 to 500-mile range, a 0-60 mph time of 5 seconds flat, and four Model 3-derived electric motors. So disruptive were the Semi’s specs that Daimler Trucks boss Martin Daum infamously suggested that the Tesla Semi must be breaking the laws of physics.

Despite these reservations from critics though, the development of the Semi continued. Elon Musk has noted that improvements to the Semi are actively being done, even suggesting that the long-range variant of the all-electric truck could have closer to 600 miles of range per charge. Just recently, even the Daimler Trucks CEO, who dismissed the Semi in the past, acknowledged Tesla and the company’s tenacity. Daum still gave Tesla some warning about the lucrative and competitive trucking segment, though, stating that the business is far trickier than the consumer vehicle market.

“Tesla has proved they really have the tenacity to really go through huge losses to capture the market. But trucking is a difficult business. They will learn the hard way; trucking is not like passenger cars where one size fits all,” he said.

Inasmuch as Daum’s warnings are justified, the Tesla Semi is being developed with steady, experienced hands. Jerome Guillen, after all, has extensive experience in the trucking industry, and prior to his promotion as President of Automotive, he was personally heading the Semi program. Before to his employment at Tesla, Jerome served as the project leader for Daimler’s Freightliner Cascadia program as well, where he eventually became the head of the company’s Business Innovation unit. By the time he left for the electric car maker, Daimler’s Business Innovation unit was profitable and self-funding.

During the vehicle’s unveiling, Elon Musk noted that initial production of the vehicle will commence in 2019. That said, Eric Markowitz & Dan Crowley of Worm Capital stated in a note published after a tour of Gigafactory 1 that the electric car maker is planning on “earnestly” producing the Semi by 2020.

Tesla Semi with Model X in tow is an “aircraft carrier”, teases Jerome Guillen

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Elon Musk hints at Tesla’s profitable Q4, Mid Range Model 3’s int’l release

Tesla stock (NASDAQ:TSLA) is down on early Friday trading amidst news of the company’s new round of layoffs, as well as the impending production ramp of the $35,000 Standard Range Model 3. The rationale behind the 7% job cuts was extensively explained by Elon Musk in an email to Tesla employees, which was shared on the company’s blog.

Musk acknowledged the challenges that Tesla is currently facing, particularly as the company is now setting the stage for the impending release of the Model 3’s most aggressively-priced variant. In his message, Musk noted that in the near future, Tesla’s challenge would lie in developing vehicles and energy products that are attainable for mainstream customers.

“Looking ahead at our mission of accelerating the advent of sustainable transport and energy, which is important for all life on Earth, we face an extremely difficult challenge: making our cars, batteries and solar products cost-competitive with fossil fuels. While we have made great progress, our products are still too expensive for most people,” Musk wrote.

Perhaps most notable in the letter, though, is Musk’s discussion about Tesla’s capability to make a profit. The Tesla CEO noted that he considers Q3 2018’s 4% profit to be the most meaningful in the company’s 15 years of existence. Musk pointed out, though, that the third quarter’s profit was partly the result of a strong push to sell higher-priced variants of the vehicle — the Long Range Model 3 AWD and the Model 3 Performance — to customers in North America. As for Q4 2018, Musk stated that there is a good chance Tesla would be able to make a profit as well, though not in the same level as the third quarter.

“In Q4, preliminary, unaudited results indicate that we again made a GAAP profit, but less than Q3,” Musk wrote.

To help the company maintain profitability, Tesla is adopting Q3 2018’s strategy this quarter, with the electric car maker pushing the Model 3 Performance and the Long Range Model 3 AWD to customers in Europe and China. Musk also stated that Tesla is aiming to deliver “at least the Mid Range Model 3 variant in all markets” starting around May, in order to reach a greater demographic for the electric sedan. Such a system would likely serve Tesla well, at least until the company could start producing the Standard Range Model 3, which starts at the ever-elusive price of $35,000.

In a statement to CNBC, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives notes that Tesla’s international Model 3 push would likely determine the company’s success in the first half of 2019. In the second half, though, Ives stated that Tesla would need to start producing more affordable versions of the electric sedan for the international market.

“If you think about the trajectory, the first half of 2019 is really Europe coming onboard. But then, ultimately, in the second half, you need the mid-range Model 3 to really start to kick in,” he said.

Tesla’s Model 3 ramp might have already reached a level where the company is able to distribute the vehicle to other countries, but the electric car maker is only about halfway done. Tesla eventually aims to produce 10,000 Model 3 per week, to meet the expected demand for the vehicle in the international market. To accomplish this, Tesla continues to optimize its production capabilities in Fremont, while accelerating the construction of Gigafactory 3 in China. The latter is expected to complete initial construction by the end of summer, with the facility manufacturing the first China-made, “affordable” Model 3 by the end of the year.

Elon Musk’s recent letter to Tesla employees can be accessed here.

As of writing, Tesla stock is trading down 8.78% at $316.81 per share.

Disclosure: I have no ownership in shares of TSLA and have no plans to initiate any positions within 72 hours.

Elon Musk hints at Tesla’s profitable Q4, Mid Range Model 3’s int’l release

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1010BHP TUNED FORD FOCUS RS MK2

With a dyno-proven 1010bhp, Grant Butler’s show-stopping tuned Mk2 is the world’s first Focus RS to break into four-digit power figures…

Man has always had a desire to be the first to do things. Whether it’s landing on the moon, flying around the world or simply getting to the bar on a busy Friday night, being first matters. It’s in our DNA (probably hard-wired from the days when we lived in caves). So in the Ford world, it is really no surprise that there’s an innate desire to be the first: the first to own the latest RS model, the first to fit a new set of wheels, the first to have a 1000bhp Focus RS.

1010BHP TUNED FORD FOCUS RS MK2

But Grant Butler didn’t set out to achieve a world first… Having owned a few non-Fords since his Focus ST was sold, Grant decided he needed to get back into a Blue Oval and began looking for a car.

“I booked a flight down to London to go and see Quaife’s demo Focus RS,” says Grant. But then something interesting happened: “I got an alert on my phone for another RS that was up for sale for £13,500, also in London – £13k less than the one I was going to buy.” Having called the owner and with a certain amount of scepticism, Grant took a gamble and agreed to meet him at the airport.

1010BHP TUNED FORD FOCUS RS MK2

“It turned out to be a Cat D, stolen recovered, but it had all the documents and checks.” He continues: “It needed a few bits and bobs tidying up, but it was a solid, honest RS. We went back to his house but as he reversed in, he clipped a rock and ruined the rear bumper! Straight off, I saw this as a bargaining tool, as I already had a spare at home.”

A bit of negotiation followed and Grant managed to get the Focus RS for just £12,000 – around half the price he’d been ready to pay for the other one a few hours earlier. With a big smile on his face, he drove back up to Scotland, where the mods began the very next day.

1010BHP TUNED FORD FOCUS RS MK2

“I’d already started collecting parts, so I fitted a Milltek Sport exhaust system with a high-flow downpipe and de-cat.” With an Auto Specialists’ induction kit, the 2.5 now made a proper five-cylinder growl.

With thirteen grand burning a hole in his pocket, Grant had soon booked the RS in for a full re-spray. “I’d always wanted a purple Focus RS; a colour I thought Ford should have made from the start. So we ordered the paint direct from House of Kolor in the US – a unique Kandy Purple Pearl at the cost of £1,400 for the paint alone!” he laughs. It required two black basecoats, followed by four coats of Kandy Purple, then four further coats of lacquer, but the finish is flawless.

1010BHP TUNED FORD FOCUS RS MK2

Having already fitted some 20in BBS alloys, Grant decided to mix things up by changing them for a set of Volan wheels from a Jaguar XF. “One of my favourite mods was when they were painted Hyper White to make the purple really pop out,” the comments.

With the bodywork and wheels looking on the money, Grant turned his attention to the rest of the exterior. “I wanted to make it look like it’d come from Ford as a special edition,” he says. A custom bonnet was created using Sierra Sapphire 4×4 vents along with a ‘U’-duct cut into the bonnet for cooling: “I knew I was going to need it for the plans I had.” All of the plastics were finished in Piano Black and the tailgate flushed and tucked to accommodate the shorter personal plate. The front bumper also had the bar that runs through the centre removed for a more aggressive look.

1010BHP TUNED FORD FOCUS RS MK2

Then it was time for the first bit of engine work, which entailed a GI Motorsport RS420 set-up. “The car was great at that point, with mega power and so much fun to drive!”

At this stage, Grant was happy with the performance so turned his attention to the interior, where he really went to town!

1010BHP TUNED FORD FOCUS RS MK2

“I took it to Optimus Automotive in Glasgow and they trimmed everything in black nappa leather with purple stitching and logos to match the paint.” Literally everything has been lovingly covered including the dash, door cards, all pillars, parcel shelf and steering wheel. The seats deserve a special mention, as they’re finished in an Escort Cosworth-inspired hexagon stitch, which looks fantastic. Grant wasn’t done yet though…

“Watching all the RSs on the scene I knew I had to be different. And with everyone pushing the boundaries of the five-pot engine, I knew it would have to be something that no one else had done!” Grant smiles.

1010BHP TUNED FORD FOCUS RS MK2

Having already bagged a set of truly epic brakes – 410mm front discs gripped by eight-pot calipers and 365mm with six-pots on the rear – Grant was ready for some mega-power.

“I spoke to Andy and Lee at Devil Developments and with Lee having built the fastest Mk2 RS in the world, I knew we’d have a great car at the end of it,” smiles Grant. And so the transformation began.

1010BHP TUNED FORD FOCUS RS MK2

“My first purchase was the biggest turbo that BorgWarner made in their EFR range which was the EFR9180.” This monstrous unit is packed with features, but it was a tad large for the Focus’s engine bay. “It was never going to fit in the original spot behind the engine, so a lot of work went into building a custom, ‘side-winder’ exhaust manifold to place it where the battery used to sit,” says Grant. Meercat Exhausts were tasked with fabricating this bespoke item and a few weeks later produced the stunning, equal length manifold. Next came a custom exhaust system including a 115mm high-flow downpipe leading into a full 115mm system right to the rear silencers. Huge, 5.5in slash-cut tailpipes were then added.

With forged rods and pistons, Anembo plenum and 1000cc injectors, the RS made 834bhp on Syvecs management – the highest powered Mk2 at that time. But then disaster struck. “I was pushing an Audi RS6 down the motorway on the way back from Crail, when the engine let go,” says Grant.

1010BHP TUNED FORD FOCUS RS MK2

“At 2.3bar the head lifted and it nuked pistons one and five to the point they dripped alloy onto the rods!” The inadequate head bolts were to blame and Grant was left with a wrecked engine.

“I was ready to take the cut-off saw right down the car and sell it off in bits after the engine blew, but my wife Suzanne persuaded me to rebuild it.” With fresh motivation, the project was soon back on track. “I had my sights firmly set on being the first road going Focus RS over 1000bhp after another RS pushed past my 834 and hit 856bhp,” Grant grins.

1010BHP TUNED FORD FOCUS RS MK2

So, Lee at Devil Developments began work on spec’ing a bombproof engine. The highlights include a big-valve, flowed head with Stage 3 cams, a super-strong linered block, pinned and braced bottom end, together with a billet crank, I-beam rods and oversized pistons. Every nut was changed for ARP kit to hold it all together under immense pressure; all assembled by Andy at GI in Scotland.

After being run-in (off-boost) for 1000 miles, some custom 2000c injectors were fitted, before the oil was changed ready for the mapping. Lee travelled up to Dyna Tune in East Kilbride where a whole day was spent on their hub dyno, which initially saw 760bhp at the hubs. “Lee knew I wanted to be the first over the line to hit the 1000bhp mark,” says Grant. “He mapped and mapped and mapped and, with E85 fuel, it hit the massive figure of 1010bhp at the flywheel (918bhp at the hubs) and 870lb.ft. I was delighted – we all were,” smiles Grant.

1010BHP TUNED FORD FOCUS RS MK2

So what does a 1010bhp tuned Ford Focus RS feel like to drive? “It drives brilliantly round town off-boost, and is awesome on fuel,” comments Grant.

“Sink your right boot though and it feels like you’ve just had a bomb go off in the boot, pinning you into your seat!” He continues: “The boost just keeps on building; it’s like it’s never going to stop.” But it isn’t uncontrollable – the Syvecs management sees to that. “It comes in at 3,500rpm and there’s full boost from 4,000rpm to past 7,000rpm.” Grant runs 2.8bar for the full-fat, 1010bhp, but for day-to-day use it’s pulled back a tad to 750bhp at 2.3bar. “It’s more than enough to spank all the cars round my way though,” laughs Grant.

1010BHP TUNED FORD FOCUS RS MK2

“With so many RS owners now wanting to hit that 1000bhp I know it will only be a matter of time before that figure is beaten, but they’ll never be the first to break the 1000bhp mark and that’s all I wanted – you always remember the first!” he smiles. A job very well done, sir!

1010BHP TUNED FORD FOCUS RS MK2

How do you get 1010bhp?
Squeezing over 1000bhp from a 2.5-litre Duratec takes some doing. It helps, of course, that it’s a decent capacity five-cylinder unit, but the huge pressure on the engine means it needs to be immensely strong. The bottom end has been pinned and linered with strong ARP bolts used to hold it all together. Then you need a turbo capable of flowing the huge quantities of air needed to make 1010bhp (in this case, a BorgWarner EFR9180). Of course, it wouldn’t fit at the rear of the bay, so a custom side-mounted manifold was also required for the install.

As with any big-power build, the key is in the mapping. In this case, the Syvecs standalone set-up allowed Devil Developments full control over every engine parameter – timing, knock, EGTs air/fuel ratio – in fact, any information from the engine could be assessed and adjusted as necessary. It was also run on E85 fuel, which has a higher octane rating due to its ethanol content. At 2.8bar the turbo is right at its limit, so this is as far as this current set-up will realistically allow.

1010BHP TUNED FORD FOCUS RS MK2

TECH SPEC: FORD FOCUS RS MK2

TUNED
2.5-litre Duratec, BorgWarner EFR9180 on a V-band, Turbosmart 45mm wastegate, Stage 3 cams, ported, polished big-valve head, pinned, linered, wire ringed & decked block, K1 I-beam rods, Weisco pistons, Cosworth head gasket, custom ‘side-winder’ exhaust manifold, Airtec Stage 3 intercooler with custom big boost pipes, Airtec remote oil cooler, Syvecs ECU With Toucan touch screen and fuel flex, custom manifold back exhaust with custom 5.5in media blasted tips, Anembo billet inlet plenum, 2000cc Injector Dynamics injectors customised to car, Samco boost hoses, Devil Developments triple fuel pump system with swirl tank, water meth spray kit, uprated NGK spark plugs, ceramic coating and lava wrap to manifold and bonnet, uprated coil packs, Hard Race engine mounts POWER 1010bhp (flywheel) 918bhp (hubs) at 2.8bar on E85, 870lb.ft torque.

TRANSMISSION
Lightened flywheel, Quaife LSD, Xtreme triple-plate carbon clutch, Vibra-technics gearbox mounts.

CHASSIS
BC Racing fully adjustable coil-overs on rose joints, Powerflex bushes all round, Hard Race rear arms and front lower arms, K-Sport 8-piston calipers with 415mm floating discs (front), K-Sport 6-piston calipers with 385mm floating discs (rear), Jaguar Volan 20in staggered alloys powder coated Hyper White with custom badges, Michelin Super sport tyres 235/30×20 and 245/30×20.

INTERIOR
Custom nappa leather trimmed dash, centre console, door cards, parcel shelf, steering wheel, gear stick, handbrake, front and rear seats, all detailed with purple double top stitching, RS and Recaro logos, custom speedo, boost, oil pressure, water temperature dials, custom stainless driver’s footrest, plastics colour matched to exterior.

EXTERIOR
Painted House of Kolor Kandy Purple Pearl, custom fabricated vented bonnet, custom fabricated boot lid, Maxton designs side and rear extensions, Triple R front splitter, smoothed bumper trims, modified front bumper mouth piece with custom mesh, Monkey wrench bespoke front headlights, Monkey wrench custom wing mirror indicators.

AUDIO
Pioneer SPH-DA120 headunit with Bluetooth and apple play, gold cabling throughout, JBL components, tweeters and hidden 6x9s, 2x12in JBL subwoofers, 2x 1000watt Alpine V12 Amps, 1x10in Sony xPlod subwoofer.

Words Davy Lewis Photos Ade Brannan

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