“If you want the most badass rig on the road, this is it,” CEO Elon Musk said at a low-key “delivery event” at Tesla’s battery factory in Sparks, Nevada.
While electric passenger cars get most of the buzz, the move to electrify trucking could be transformative for an industry known for high emissions and hefty fuel costs. Adding driver assistance features can also help operators save on labor expenses.
Tesla has designed the Semi truck around the driver, with a central seating position, plenty of room to stand up and ample storage space.
On stage, Musk said Tesla had pulled off a 500-mile (805-km) demonstration run on a single charge and full load in California, between Tesla’s Fremont plant and San Diego. A time-lapse video was shown of the route.
Tesla Semi truck event
Large fleet operators like PepsiCo, Walmart, Meijer and J.B. Hunt Transport Services were among the companies that placed non-binding reservations for the Semi five years ago.
The first deliveries will go to PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay plant in Modesto, California.
During Tesla’s last earnings call, Musk said the company is tentatively planning to produce 50,000 Semis for North America in 2024.
He appears to have taken the product off the back burner after the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act, which makes tax credits of as much as $40,000 available to commercial vehicles.
Musk did not say anything about volume production or pricing Thursday evening.
The Semi has an estimated range of 500 miles per charge and its own “Tesla Semi” chargers.
The introduction will add a fifth vehicle to Tesla’s lineup, featuring the passenger models S, X, 3 and Y, and fulfills Musk’s longstanding pledge to move into heavy-duty trucks.
The Semi will be put to work for Tesla, carrying freight between the company’s factories in Nevada and Fremont and back again so that engineers can continually refine the product, Dan Priestley, the truck’s program manager, said on stage Thursday.
In his “Master Plan, Part Deux” opus from 2016, Musk said “the Tesla Semi will deliver a substantial reduction in the cost of cargo transport, while increasing safety and making it really fun to operate.”