Looking at the $180,000 model, it's still around $60,000 more than a diesel-powered semi truck. However, the Semi could cost around 20 percent less to run, Tesla estimates, putting savings over a million miles at around $250,000.
The Tesla Semi will improve the trucker experience with an Enhanced Autopilot (automatic emergency braking, automatic lane keeping and lane departure warning) that will improve safety for drivers and other vehicles. It also features jackknife protection, sensors and cameras meant to reduce blind spots. For a truck it'll also have crazy acceleration, which could be useful for hill-climbing and other chores.
That said, trucker Jonathon Ramsey wondered if the Semi would provide enough visibility, given the lack of mirrors and unusual center pilot position. He also said Tesla should have focused more on the brakes than the acceleration, and called some of Tesla's claims about current trucking tech questionable.
Many critics are also wondering how Tesla could sell the Semi so cheaply. Some estimates have put the cost of the 1 MWh battery alone at up to $100,000, so as Electrek speculates, Tesla must have some new technology or other tricks up its sleeve to be able to make the economics work. Potential buyers aren't spooked by the unknowns, though -- Canadian grocery chain Loblaws was the first to jump onboard with a big order, and retail giant Walmart also plans to test the truck.
Update: The post previously stated that the battery could cost up to $400,000, but that was based on the cost estimate of a 2 MWh battery prior to Tesla's Semi electric truck reveal. The post has been updated to reflect the latest study for the costs of a 1 MWh battery. Thanks, Andrew!