He said the truck would be no less groundbreaking, claiming it would have a single-charge range of 500 miles, greater than many analysts had expected and enough to serve in many typical trucking routes.
The truck can go from zero to 60 mph in five seconds without a trailer, and in 20 seconds when carrying a maximum load of 80,000 pounds, less than a third of the time required for a diesel truck, he said.
He gave no price for the truck but hinted it would be costly.
"Tesla stuff is expensive," Musk said, drawing another cheer from the crowd, gathered at an airfield outside of Los Angeles.
But he also said the electric truck would be less expensive to operate, in part because it has fewer components that require regular maintenance (no engine, transmission or drive shaft).
As a result, Tesla is estimating it will cost $US1.26 per mile to operate, compared with $US1.51 a mile for a diesel truck. The cost can fall further - to 85 cents a mile, according to Tesla - if groups of trucks travel together in convoys, reducing wind drag. "This beats rail," Musk said.
In typical Tesla fashion, the truck is a sharp departure from industry norms. The cabin is spacious enough for a driver and passenger to stand. The driver's seat is in the centre of the cab, not on the left side. It is flanked by two laptop-size video screens providing navigation and scheduling data as well as images of blind spots and other areas around the truck.
It will be equipped with radar sensors, cameras and processors to enable drivers to use a version of Autopilot, the advanced driver-assistance system featured in Tesla cars such as the Model S and the new Model 3.
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