- Tesla first sends Semi to PepsiCo five years after unveiling
- No details on electric truck orders or capacity
- Semi uses existing Tesla engines to have new Supercharger
Dec 1 (Reuters) – Tesla Inc ( TSLA.O ) Chief Executive Elon Musk delivered the company’s first heavy-duty Semi on Thursday to PepsiCo ( PEP.O ) without offering updated forecasts on the truck’s prices, production plans or how much cargo it could carry drag.
Appearing on stage at an event at Tesla’s Nevada facility, Musk 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 that Tesla would use in its upcoming pickup from Cyber truck.
“If you’re a truck driver and you want the baddest rig on the road, this is it,” Musk said, noting that it had been five years since Tesla announced it was developing the all-electric truck. Industry experts remain skeptical that battery electric trucks can sustain the strain of hauling heavy loads hundreds of miles economically.
In Musk’s first Tesla unveiling since taking over Twitter — an acquisition that some investors worry has become a distraction — the company did not announce pricing for the Semi, provide details on variants of the truck it had originally projected or provide a forecast for deliveries to PepsiCo or other customers. Tesla said it would begin using Semi to ship parts to its factory in Fremont, California.
In 2017, Tesla had said the 300-mile version of the Semi would cost $150,000, and the 500-mile version $180,000, but Tesla’s electric passenger vehicle prices have risen sharply since then.
Robyn Denholm, chairman of Tesla, recently said the automaker could produce 100 Semis this year. Musk has said that Tesla aims to produce 50,000 of the trucks by 2024.
PepsiCo, which completed its first cargo run with the Tesla truck to deliver snacks to those attending the launch event in Nevada, had ordered 100 trucks in 2017.
Brewer Anheuser-Busch ( ABI.BR ), United Parcel Service Inc ( UPS.N ) and Walmart Inc ( WMT.N ) were among other companies that had reserved Semi. Tesla did not provide details on orders or deliveries to customers, nor an estimate of what the total cost of ownership for future buyers would be compared to diesel alternatives.
Musk said the Semi has been making test runs between Tesla’s Sparks, Nevada factory and its Fremont, California factory. Tesla said it had completed a 500-mile drive on a single charge, with the Semi and cargo weighing a total of 81,000 pounds.
Tesla did not disclose the weight of an unloaded Semi, a key specification analysts had hoped to learn and an important consideration for the efficiency of electric trucks.
Musk has previously talked about the possibility of fully autonomous trucks. Tesla did not provide details on how Tesla’s driver assistance systems would work in the Semi unveiled Thursday or future versions.
The semi-delivery presentation ended without Musk taking questions, as he often does at Tesla events.
“Not very impressive – moving a load of chips (average weight per pack 52 grams) is by no means definitive proof of concept,” said Oliver Dixon, senior analyst at consultancy Guidehouse.
Tesla had initially set a 2019 production target for the Semi, which was first unveiled in 2017. In the years since, rivals have started selling their own battery-powered trucks.
Daimler’s ( MBGn.DE ) Freightliner, Volvo ( VOLVb.ST ), startup Nikola ( NKLA.O ) and Renault ( RENA.PA ) are among Tesla’s competitors in developing alternatives to internal combustion engine trucks.
Walmart ( WMT.N ), for example, has said it has been testing Freightliner’s eCascadia and Nikolas Tre BEV trucks in California.
‘LIKE A CHEETAH’
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 for the Cybertruck, Musk said. The Cybertruck is scheduled to go into production in 2023.
Trucks in the Semis category represent only 1% of US car sales, but 20% of total vehicle emissions, Tesla said.
Tesla said other future vehicles would use powertrain technology developed for the Semi without providing details. The Semi uses three electric motors developed for Tesla’s performance version of the Model S, with only one of them at highway speeds and two in reserve for when the truck needs to accelerate, a feature that makes the truck more energy efficient, Musk said.
“This thing has crazy power compared to a diesel truck,” Musk said. “Basically, it’s like an elephant moving like a cheetah.”
In a slide shown as part of Musk’s presentation, Tesla showed an image of a future “robotaxis” under development with a mock-up of the future car covered under a tarp.
The presentation took place after Tesla shares closed at $194.70. The stock has fallen about 45% so far this year, losing about $500 billion in market value, down to about $615 billion.
Among the factors cited by investors have been Musk’s sale of Tesla stock to finance his takeover of Twitter, signs that a slowing global economy has begun to cut into demand for Tesla’s premium cars, and a warning from the company that it may not meet its goals of increasing deliveries by 50% this year.
Reporting by Akash Sriram in Bengaluru and Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell
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