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Musk delivers first Tesla truck, but no update on production and pricing


  • Tesla delivers PepsiCo’s first Semi five years after its introduction
  • There are no orders or capacity details for an electric truck
  • The Semi uses existing Tesla engines to house a new Supercharger

December 1 (Reuters) – Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) CEO Elon Musk delivered the company’s first heavy-duty Semi to PepsiCo on Thursday (PEP.O) without offering updated estimates of the truck’s prices, production plans, or how much cargo it can haul.

Musk, who appeared on stage at an event at Tesla’s Nevada plant, said the battery-powered long-haul truck would reduce highway emissions, outperform existing diesel models in power and safety, and create fast-charging technology that Tesla will use in its upcoming Cybertruck pickup.

“If you’re a truck driver and you want the baddest platform on the road, this is it,” Musk said, noting that it’s been five years since Tesla announced it was developing an all-electric truck. However, industry experts remain skeptical that battery electric trucks can economically take the strain of hauling heavy loads hundreds of miles.

In Musk’s first Tesla reveal 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 truck variants it initially designed or provide supply forecast to PepsiCo or other customers. Tesla said it will begin using the Semi to deliver parts to its factory in Fremont, California.

In 2017, Tesla said the 300-mile range version of the Semi would cost $150,000 and the 500-mile version $180,000, but prices for Tesla’s passenger electric vehicles have skyrocketed since then.

Robin Denholm, Tesla’s chairman, recently said the automaker could produce 100 Semis this year. Musk said Tesla will aim to produce 50,000 of the trucks in 2024.

PepsiCo, which completed its first cargo run with the Tesla truck to deliver snacks to attendees at a launch event in Nevada, ordered 100 trucks in 2017.

Anheuser-Busch Brewery (ABI.BR)United Parcel Service Inc (UPS.N) and Walmart Inc (WMT.N) were among the other companies that had retained the Semi. Tesla did not provide details on orders or deliveries to customers, nor an estimate of what the total cost of ownership would be for future buyers compared to diesel alternatives.

“NOT IMPRESSED”

Musk said the Semi was testing between Tesla’s Sparks, Nevada factory and its Fremont, California plant. Tesla said it got 500 miles of driving on a single charge, with the Semi and cargo weighing a total of 81,000 pounds.

Tesla did not disclose the unloaded weight of the Semi, a key specification that analysts were hoping to learn and an important consideration for the efficiency of electric trucks.

Musk has talked in the past about the prospect of fully autonomous trucks. Tesla did not provide details on how Tesla’s driver assistance systems will function in the Semi it 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 (52g average pack weight) is by no means a definitive proof of concept,” said Oliver Dixon, senior analyst at consultancy Guidehouse.

Tesla had originally set a 2019 production target for the Semi, which was first introduced in 2017. In the years since then, competitors have started selling their own battery-powered trucks.

of Daimler (MBGn.DE) Freightliner, Volvo (VOLVb.ST)Nikola startup (NKLA.O) and Renault (RENA.PA) are among Tesla’s competitors in developing alternatives to internal combustion engine trucks.

Walmart (WMT.N)for example, said it tested Freightliner’s eCascadia trucks and Nikola’s Tre BEV in California.

“LIKE A CHEETAH”

The Semi can charge at 1 megawatt and has liquid cooling technology in the charging cable in an updated version of Tesla’s Supercharger that will be provided to the Cybertruck, Musk said. The Cybertruck is slated to go into production in 2023.

Trucks in the Semi category account for just 1 percent of U.S. auto sales, but 20 percent of total vehicle emissions, Tesla said.

Tesla said other future vehicles will use powertrain technology developed for the Semi, without providing details. The Semi uses three electric motors developed for Tesla’s performance version of its Model S, with only one of them engaged at highway speeds and two in reserve when the truck needs to accelerate, a feature that makes the truck more energy efficient, it said Musk.

“This thing has crazy power compared to a diesel truck,” Musk said. “It’s basically like an elephant that moves like a cheetah.”

In a slide shown as part of Musk’s presentation, Tesla showed an image of a future “robotaxis” in development with a mock-up of the future car covered in a tarp.

The presentation came after Tesla shares closed at $194.70. The stock has fallen about 45% so far this year, shedding about $500 billion in market capitalization to about $615 billion.

Among the factors cited by investors were Musk’s sale of Tesla stock to fund his takeover of Twitter, signs that a slowing global economy has begun to dampen demand for Tesla’s premium-priced cars, and the company’s warning that that it may not meet its target of increasing deliveries by 50% this year.

Reporting by Akash Sriram in Bengaluru and Hyunju Jin in San Francisco; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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