Elon Musk has confirmed Tesla’s plan to build its electric semi truck, the Tesla Semi, at its upcoming new factory in Austin.
At the unveiling of the Tesla Semi in 2017, the automaker said that the electric truck would be coming in 2019, but the vehicle has since been pushed to “low-volume production in late 2020.”
The timeline was later pushed to 2021, but Musk recently told employees in an email obtained by Electrek that “it’s time to bring Tesla Semi to volume production” without updating the timeline.
During the conference call following Tesla’s Q2 2020 financial results yesterday, the automaker’s management team made new comments giving a us a better idea of the plan for production.
It was such a brief mention that we missed it during our first listen of the call, but Musk confirmed that the Tesla Semi is going to be built at Tesla’s new Gigafactory in Austin.
The CEO said when talking about the new factory:
We’re going to be doing a major factory there. And it’s also where we will be doing Cybertruck there, the Tesla semi program, and we will be doing Model 3 and Y for the eastern half of North America.
It is the first time that Tesla confirms a production location for the truck.
Jerome Guillen, Tesla’s president of automotive and the head of the Tesla Semi program, added some comments about the plan during the same call:
We’ll start production next year, as we announced before. I personally care very much about the project. I can’t wait. We do have a few trucks that keep driving around and that can deliver cars. But we’re going to accelerate that. I want to be clear that the first few units, we will use ourselves, Tesla, to carry our own freight, probably mostly between Fremont and Reno, which is a fantastic test route. We’re going to prove that we have very good reliability. So far, the early units do have it, but we’ll do that at a larger scale. And we have also promised some early units to some long-term, very patient, and supportive customers, and we’ll do that.
Guillen previously said that Tesla plans to be its own best customer when it comes to the Tesla Semi. The automaker operates a large fleet of trucks and it hopes to reduce its logistic costs by going electric.
A Tesla Semi prototype was spotted delivering cars over the last few quarters:
Even after accounting for the higher purchase price, Tesla has been promising a much lower cost of operation per mile for the electric truck, which could result in a major impact in the trucking industry.
The executive confirmed that the bottleneck slowing down the Tesla Semi program has been battery cell supply, but he mentioned that Tesla expects to have more cells to expand the lineup next year.
Tesla has been taking reservations for the electric truck and said that the production versions will have 300-mile and 500-mile range versions for $150,000 and $180,000, respectively.
However, 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.
I can’t wait to hear the updated production specs of the Tesla Semi and more importantly, the cost of operation per mile.
As for the timeline, it’s going to be tight in 2021 if they are going to build it at the new factory.
To be fair, we’ve heard that Tesla has an even more aggressive timeline for Model Y production at the new plant, but that’s just for a general assembly line.
As we previously reported, Tesla has also been making move at Gigafactory Nevada to support Tesla Semi production, so that should help.
They might end up having a similar approach as the early Model Y production at Gigafactory Austin in shipping parts from other locations and just assemble the vehicles at the new factory.
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.
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