Tesla Unveils an Electric Rival to Semi Trucks

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Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, revealed the company’s new electric semi truck at a Thursday night presentation in Hawthorne, Calif. CreditAlexandria Sage/Reuters

HAWTHORNE, Calif. — Tesla has aimed to reinvent the automobile and the way electricity is generated for homes. With those efforts still in progress, it is setting out on another quest: to remake the multibillion-dollar trucking industry.

In an elaborately produced nighttime presentation by its chief executive, Elon Musk, Tesla on Thursday unveiled a prototype for a battery-powered, nearly self-driving semi truck that the company said would prove more efficient and less costly to operate than the diesel trucks that now haul goods across the country. And of course, it will emit no exhaust.

In a surprise, Mr. Musk also showed he was not letting up on the car side of the business, unveiling a new Tesla Roadster that he said would be able to reach 60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds and travel 620 miles before needing to recharge. He claimed it would be the first production car ever with a zero-to-60 time under two seconds.

It has a top speed of at least 250 miles per hour, said Mr. Musk, dressed in a green canvas jacket and jeans.

“The point of doing this is to give a hard-core smackdown to gasoline cars,” he said to a cheering crowd of more than 2,000 people. “You’ll be able to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back.”

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