Tesla CEO Elon Musk kicks off the first deliveries of Semi trucks

Tesla CEO Elon Musk begins deliveries of the company’s heavy-duty truck, the Semi, at the Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada.

Tesla Inc.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk kicked off deliveries of the company’s first few production Semi trucks on Thursday, speaking on stage at the company’s factory in Sparks, Nevada, with Dan Priestley, the company’s senior manager of semi truck engineering.

Like CNBC reported earlier, Tesla set up lines and began production of the Semi outside of Reno this year at the site where it primarily makes the battery cells, drivetrains and battery packs that power the cars. Musk and Tesla did not say Thursday how many Semis they are shipping.

Tesla originally showed off the Semi design in December 2017. Production was delayed due to the Covid pandemic and battery cell supply issues, among other things.

During the launch event, Musk briefly alluded to the turmoil of the past five years and joked, “Sorry for the delay.”

He later thanked and handed over the microphone to representatives of PepsiCo Fried Laywhich is the first Tesla customer to receive and use production Semi trucks.

One major difference between the Tesla Class 8 offering and other heavy-duty trucks is the location of the steering wheel and driver’s seat. Instead of using the left side (or right side in Europe), Tesla designed the Semi with a steering wheel in the center of the cabin with touchscreens located on either side of the driver.

While the Tesla Semi was in development, other all-electric heavy-duty trucks hit the market.

Volvoowned by Renault Trucks and Daimler have manufactured and delivered electric heavy-duty trucks to customers before Tesla Even besieged Nicholas — whose founder was expelled and convicted of scams in recent months — production of a battery-electric truck began in March.

But Tesla boasts some high-tech features unavailable elsewhere, including a new fast-charging system and a battery with more range than competitors. The DC fast charging system delivers up to 1MW and uses a water-based coolant to ensure it delivers this power safely. Tesla says the Semi can travel 500 miles on a single charge while fully charged.

The new fast-charging technology will eventually be installed at Tesla SuperCharging stations and used to power Cybertrucks, the consumer pickup truck that Tesla is planning, Musk revealed. The company plans to mass-produce the heavy-duty, sharp-edged pickup at its new plant in Austin, Texas.

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In the U.S., he said, there are about 15 million passenger vehicles and about 200,000 heavy-duty trucks. “It seems like a small percentage,” he said, but semi-trucks account for a large portion of vehicle emissions because of their size, weight and the fact that they are driven around the clock.

These emissions can have insidious effects on the health of people who live near warehouses, ports and other roads with heavy freight traffic.

According to the American Lung Association’s Transportation and Air Quality Study, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (such as delivery vans, short- and long-haul trucks) account for about 6% of the U.S. vehicle fleet by 2020. These vehicles generate a huge pollution, including 59% of ozone and particulate nitrogen oxide emissions and 26% of greenhouse gas emissions from transport.

Musk said the Semi will not only help fight climate change, but “It’s also quiet, will improve your air quality and improve the health of people living near highways.”

The same can be said for other electric heavy-duty trucks that are displacing diesel trucks.

Musk and other executives did not discuss Tesla’s driver assistance systems, which are marketed as Autopilot and full self-driving capability, at the Semi delivery event. In 2017, when Musk debuted the Semi, he touted the future of the driverless truck.

Nor did they discuss how many trucks they plan to produce next year, or how they will get additional battery cells and raw materials to produce them.

Shares in Elon Musk’s auto business closed flat before the event at $194.70 and were little changed in after-market trading.

Watch full supplies event here.

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