Tesla finally delivers its first production semi

Five years after CEO Elon Musk officially unveiled his Semi, Tesla’s electrified tractor-trailer, the company delivered its first official production vehicle to Pepsi on Thursday during its “Semi Delivery Event” held at Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory. The beverage manufacturer has ordered a total of 100 vehicles.

The Tesla Semi was first introduced in 2017 and was originally scheduled to retail for $150,000 and $180,000 for the 300- and 500-mile versions, respectively. Those prices are significantly higher than the $60,000 standard diesel cabs, but Tesla estimates its vehicles can operate 20 percent more efficiently (2 kWh per mile, Musk revealed Thursday) and up to $250,000 over the life of the semi-truck can save a million miles.

Each rig is “constructed like a sphere,” Musk said at the vehicle’s unveiling, and would feature a massive 1MW battery pack. This reportedly offers a 20-second 0-60, which is impressive considering these vehicles can tow up to 80,000 pounds at a time, and a charge time of just 30 minutes spent on 80 per cent. The Semis are also equipped with advanced autopilot capabilities, as well as jackknife mitigation systems, blind spot sensors and data logging for fleet management.

When reservations opened in 2017, Musk said at the time, deliveries would begin two short years later, in 2019. By April 2020, Tesla had officially pushed that delivery date back to 2021, citing production delays and supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, just two months later, in May 2020, Musk sent out a company-wide email that read, “It’s time to go all out and get the Tesla Semi into mass production. It has only been produced on a limited scale so far, which has allowed us to improve many aspects of the design,” says seen by CNBC. In the same email, he confirmed that production would take place at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada.

Shortened to July 2021, and the new delivery date pushed back again, this time to 2022, citing both the ongoing global processor shortages and its own pandemic-limited battery production capacity for the new 4680-style cells as factors.

“We believe we remain on track to build our first Model Y vehicles in Berlin and Austin in 2021,” Musk said during the company’s second-quarter 2021 investor conference successful introduction of many new product and manufacturing technologies, ongoing supply chain challenges and regional approvals.”

“In order to better focus on these factories and due to the limited availability of battery cells and global supply chain challenges, we have postponed the start of the semi-truck program to 2022,” he continued. As of May of this year, Tesla resumed actively taking reservations for a $20,000 deposit. “And the first shipments are now,” Musk said Thursday, before greeting PepsiCo Beverages North America CEO Kirk Tanner and PepsiCo Foods North America CEO Steven Williams on stage for high fives and handshakes.

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