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Tesla Semi: new update on test program, improvements, and timeline for electric truck

Tesla has sent a letter to Tesla Semi reservation holders to update them on its test program for the electric truck, as well as plans to improve it, and a slightly updated timeline.

When unveiling Tesla Semi in 2017, Tesla started guiding the start of production in 2019.

However, Jerome Guillen, Tesla’s President of Automotive and the head of the Tesla Semi program, said when asked about the production of the electric truck last year:

“Next year we will start production. We are very happy, we are driving the trucks extensively with so far, I think, quite amazing success, yes.”

It confirmed that Tesla was delaying the production of the electric truck to 2020.

Later, Tesla added that it is planning Tesla Semi electric truck production to start ‘with limited volumes’ in 2020.

The delay is happening despite Tesla collecting thousands of reservations with $5,000 to $20,000 deposits for the electric trucks.

Some of those reservation holders are now reporting that Tesla has reached out to them to give them an update on the Tesla Semi program.

They wrote:

“Greetings again from the Tesla Truck Team! We recently wrapped up a great year, in which we achieved record production and deliveries, GAAP profitability, completed Gigafactory Shanghai ahead of schedule, launched new solar and energy products, and confirmed that we are on track to produce limited volumes of the Tesla Semi in the second half of 2020.”

It confirms that Tesla doesn’t plan its limited production until the second half of the year.

Tesla also commented on the test program for the electric semi truck:

“Over the last few months, we have continued testing the trucks in real world conditions. We also spent time at a proving ground to evaluate the truck’s resilience over rougher road conditions. Using instruments mounted on the vehicle, we collected road input data to ensure the trucks can handle severely degraded roads. At our own Fremont test facility, we subjected the trucks to a number of high energy, discreet events such as curb strikes, pot holes, and other harsh inputs to confirm the truck is capable of handling common hazards. Our test vehicles have held up great thus far and continue to impress. In addition to real-world test, we also successfully completed several important engineering development checkpoints.”

In the past, CEO Elon Musk said that they found opportunities to extend that range during testing, and he said that the Tesla Semi production version will have closer to 600 miles of range.

In the letter, the Tesla Truck team reiterated that they have made improvements to the Tesla Semi, but they say that more details are only coming next year:

“As the truck’s design continues to mature, those improvements are being rolled into our plans for building more production-representative vehicles, which we will have more details on next year.”

After they already plan to start “limited-volume production”?

Tesla fans in the north might be able to soon get a chance to catch a glimpse of the Tesla Semi on the road since Tesla confirmed that it plans to start the winter testing program soon:

“In the short term, the is gearing up for several weeks of winter testing to validate the trucks’s performance in cold weather and low traction conditions. We are excited to share insights from the winter with you, as we will be able to highlight the major advantages of electric traction and motor control, which no diesel powertrain can match.”

Furthermore, Tesla also mentioned their work to develop a charging standard for electric trucks:

“Over the last two years, we have also been actively engaged with CharIN, an industry working group representing OEMs, customers, and charging equipment suppliers. CharIN has been working to define a standard for charging heavy-duty electric vehicles, and we have shared our expertise in designing high-speed charging solutions with CharIN stakeholders. We hope to be able to share the good outcome of those conversations with you in the coming months – stay tuned!”

As we reported last year, Tesla has been pushing for its own >1 MW high-power charging standard for electric trucks with the CharIN association.

Interestingly, Tesla has yet to confirm a production location for the Tesla Semi electric truck.

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