Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk delivered the company’s first heavy-duty Semi on Thursday to PepsiCo without offering updated forecasts for the cargo-hauling truck’s pricing or production plans.
Musk, who appeared onstage at an event at Tesla’s Nevada plant, said the battery-powered, long-haul truck would reduce highway emissions, outperform existing diesel models on power and safety and spin-off a fast-charging technology Tesla would use in its upcoming Cybertruck pickup.
“If you’re a trucker and you want the most badass rig on the road, this is it,” Musk said, noting that it was five years since Tesla had announced it was developing the all-electric truck. Still, industry experts remain skeptical that battery electric trucks can take the strain of hauling hefty loads for hundreds of miles economically.
Tesla did not announce pricing for the Semi at the Thursday event, provide details on variants of the truck it had initially projected or supply a forecast for deliveries to PepsiCo or other customers. Tesla said it would begin using the Semi to ship parts to its plant in Fremont, California.
In 2017, Tesla had said the 300 mile range version of the Semi would cost $150,000 (roughly Rs. 1,21,76,500), and the 500 mile version $180,000 (roughly Rs. 1,4,611,200), but Tesla’s passenger electric vehicle prices have increased sharply since then.
PepsiCo, which completed its first cargo run with the truck, had ordered 100 trucks in 2017.
Brewer Anheuser-Busch, United Parcel Service Inc and Walmart were among other companies that had reserved the Semi.
Musk said the Semi has been doing test runs between Tesla’s Sparks, Nevada factory and its plant in Fremont, California. Tesla said it had completed a 500 mile drive on a single charge with a Semi weighing in at 81,000 pounds in total, without giving a breakdown of cargo weights.
Some observers voiced doubts about the presentation, which ended without Musk taking questions.
“Not very impressive – moving a cargo of chips (average weight per pack 52 grams) cannot in any way be said to be definitive proof of concept,” said Oliver Dixon, senior analyst at consultancy Guidehouse.
Tesla had initially set a production target for 2019 for the Semi, which was first unveiled in 2017
The Semi is capable of charging at 1 megawatt and has liquid-cooling technology in the charging cable in an updated version of Tesla’s Supercharger that will be made available to the Cybertruck, Musk said.
The Cybertruck is scheduled to go into production in 2023.
Tesla said other, future vehicles would use the powertrain technology developed for the Semi without providing details.
Musk said the Semi has three times the power of any diesel-powered truck and uses regenerative braking to improve efficiency.
In a slide displayed as part of Musk’s presentation, Tesla showed an image of a future “robotaxi” in development with a mock-up of the future car covered under a tarp.
© Thomson Reuters 2022