Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Inc (TSLA.O), handed the firm’s first heavy-duty semi on Thursday to PepsiCo (PEP.O), but he made no new predictions about the cost or schedule for manufacture of the vehicle.
The battery-powered, long-haul truck will lower highway emissions, exceed current diesel models on power and safety, and spin-off a fast-charging technology Tesla would employ in its future Cybertruck pickup, according to Musk, who spoke on stage at a Tesla event in Nevada.
The all-electric truck has been under development by Tesla for five years, and Musk declared, “If you’re a trucker and you want the most badass rig on the road, this is it.” Industry experts are still dubious about the ability of battery-powered trucks to carry the weight of heavy loads over long distances without breaking the bank.
At the ceremony on Thursday, Tesla did not reveal the Semi’s price, offer information on the truck’s variants that it had earlier anticipated, or provide a forecast for deliveries to PepsiCo or other clients. Tesla announced that it would start employing the Semi to transport parts to its Fremont, California, plant.
Tesla had estimated the price of the Semi at $150,000 for the 300-mile version and $180,000 for the 500-mile version in 2017. However, costs for Tesla’s passenger electric vehicles have climbed significantly since then.
PepsiCo ordered 100 trucks in 2017, and used them for their first cargo run.
Other businesses that had reserved the Semi included Walmart Inc. (WMT.N), Brewer Anheuser-Busch (ABI.BR), and United Parcel Service Inc.
The Semi has been conducting test runs between Tesla’s factories in Sparks, Nevada, and Fremont, California, according to Musk. With a Semi weighing in at a total of 81,000 pounds, Tesla claimed it had driven 500 miles on a single charge without providing a breakdown of the cargo weights.
Some observers voiced doubts about the presentation, which ended without Musk taking questions.
“Not very impressive – moving a cargo of chips (average weight per pack 52 grams) cannot in any way be said to be definitive proof of concept,” said Oliver Dixon, senior analyst at consultancy Guidehouse.
Tesla had initially set a production target for 2019 for the Semi, which was first unveiled in 2017
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 to the Cybertruck, Musk said.
The Cybertruck is scheduled to go into production in 2023.
Tesla made the unspecific claim that other, upcoming cars would make use of the Semi’s powertrain technology.
According to Musk, the Semi uses regenerative braking to increase efficiency and has three times the power of any diesel-powered truck.
Tesla demonstrated a potential “robotaxi” under development with a mock-up of the vehicle covered in a tarp on a slide that was part of Musk’s presentation.
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