by Fred Lambert: After years of delays, Tesla is finally about to start production of Tesla Semi, its all-electric semi-truck…
The whole truck industry is watching.
While there are already a few electric trucks on the road, none of them have the specs enabling longer range hauling in a class 8 semi-truck, like the Tesla Semi is promising.
When launching Tesla Semi in 2017, the automaker said that the electric truck’s production versions, a class 8 truck with an 80,000-lb capacity, will have 300-mile and 500-mile range options for $150,000 and $180,000, respectively.
It would also have the lowest cost of operation of any semi-truck, making it extremely disruptive in an industry where every cent counts.
However, the electric vehicle has seen many delays that cost it its momentum.
When unveiled in 2017, Tesla said that it would come to market in 2019, and it started taking reservations from many companies looking to electrify their fleets.
Tesla couldn’t deliver the truck in 2019. So it was delayed in 2020, which became 2021, but now things are really starting to move.
In March, Electrek exclusively reported that Tesla was building a production line for the Tesla Semi at a new building near Gigafactory Nevada to produce five Tesla Semi electric trucks per week by the end of the year.
Now sources familiar with the matter told Electrek that the drive axle production line is ready and the general assembly line is going through its final debugging before starting production.
It is one of the last steps before starting production of the all-electric truck.
Last summer, CEO Elon Musk told employees in an email obtained by Electrek that “it’s time to bring Tesla Semi to volume production” without updating the timeline.
More recently, Tesla has indicated that the electric truck would enter production this year with some deliveries to customers, but the company didn’t release any details about the planned production.
Tesla has revealed that it plans to use the first few Tesla Semi trucks for its own operations, but some long-time reservation holders are also expected to take delivery this year.
We reported on Tesla hiring service technicians for Tesla Semi in California and Ontario, Canada, which would indicate that the first deliveries are likely to happen in those regions.
PepsiCo, one of Tesla’s biggest Tesla Semi reservation holders, has recently stated that they expect to take delivery of 15 Tesla Semi trucks for their Frito-Lay facility in Modesto, California.
This is exciting.
If Tesla sticks to its specs and price point for the Tesla Semi, it’s hard to overstate the impact that it could have on the trucking industry.
Electrifying the trucking industry would have a massive impact on emissions, but in a highly competitive industry where every cent per mile is crucial, the decisions are often made with a spreadsheet.
That’s where Tesla Semi comes in with a capacity capable of covering most US trucking routes while delivering a lower cost of operations thanks to fuel and maintenance savings.
They already attracted the attention of major fleet owners, like Walmart, Pepsico, and trucking companies.
Now if it can finally deliver those electric trucks to those customers with the promised capabilities and pricing, it will likely start a massive shift in the trucking industry.