Australian Roads Are Too Tight For Tesla’s Enormous Semi

Australian Roads Are Too Tight For Tesla’s Enormous Semi
Image: Tesla

Last week we saw the first video of a Tesla Semi in a few years. But before you get too excited, we may never actually see one on Australian roads.

This is because the trucks are too big for our roads. Under Australian regulations, vehicles wider than 2.5 metres aren’t allowed to drive on our roads. Unfortunately for Tesla, the Semi is two-inches too big.

Comparatively, the limit in the US is 2.6 metres and in the EU it is 2.55 metres.

Tesla highlighted this in a submission to the National Transport Commission (NTC) back in December, 2020. As part of the regulatory review process Tesla compared the Australian market to others around the world. The submission itself was only recently published.

“The Commission will be aware that given Australia’s small size in comparison to global markets, inconsistencies like this between Australian regulations and larger markets will delay or preclude vehicles coming to local markets,” Sam Mclean, Tesla’s Public Policy Manager for Australia, said in the submission.

“Currently, Australia will likely miss out on the first generation of electric heavy vehicles such as the Tesla Semi because of this.”

According to The Driven, the NTC is looking into the width issue in its Heavy Vehicle National Law Review. The organisation is also said to have admitted that it has “not kept pace with current international standards.”

The submission also suggests that having electric trucks in Australia is a matter of urgency due to climate change.

“As the hottest, driest continent on earth, there’s a lot at stake for Australia as this year’s catastrophic bushfires made clear. The Bushfire Royal Commission made clear that these fires were driven by climate change, and for extreme weather the “unprecedented is now our future,” Mclean says.

“In that context, the rapid decarbonisation of Australia’s heavy vehicles is an urgent imperative. Because vehicles often have a lifespan well over a decade, we must cease putting new combustion engine vehicles on our roads within 10 years to reach net zero by 2040, or 20 years at the latest to enable decarbonisation by 2050.”

At the present time it’s still not entirely clear when the Tesla Semi will be released in any market, let alone Australia. The EV was originally pegged for a 2019 release, but things remained quiet for a couple of years.

While Tesla’s 2020 Q1 investor report suggested a 2021 release there is still nothing set in stone.

It was only in mid-March that Tesla released the first video of a Semi prototype we’d seen in awhile. No other prototypes had been publicly shown off in two years.

The NTC will be presenting its policy options to the government in May.