Walmart joins Tesla Semi testing program

Tesla appears to have a new testing partner, as Walmart has taken delivery of at least one Tesla Semi electric truck. So far only two companies have been helping Tesla test and improve the Semi, PepsiCo and most recently Martin Brower.

After many years of delays, Tesla finally delivered the first Semi trucks to PepsiCo in late 2022. Since then the beverage and snack company has taken delivery of more than three dozen of the class 8 electric trucks, testing them on various routes in California.

While Tesla officially began deliveries in late 2022, it was only to PepsiCo, as the two companies partnered together to test the Semi and use the feedback to improve the design and engineering before mass production begins.

PepsiCo was Tesla’s lone partner in the program, until last month when Martin Brower, a global leader in supply chain management for restaurant chains, announced it had also been piloting two Tesla Semi trucks, with great results. Now it appears as though retail giant Walmart has also joined the program.

Over the weekend a Tesla Semi hauling a large trailer with the Walmart logo was spotted in Stockton, California by X user @AcceleratingTec. Not only was it hauling the Walmart branded trailer, the cab of the truck was also labelled with “Walmart Transportation LLC,” indicating this particular unit is owned by the company, and not Tesla.

The fact that Walmart is now testing the Tesla Semi should not come as a big surprise as the retail giant has placed a massive order for the Semi. Initially Walmart Canada placed an order for 15 units back in 2017, but as the years passed they gradually added more reservations, before eventually deciding to triple their order to 130 trucks.

Walmart taking delivery of a Semi is a good sign for the program. At Tesla’s Q1 2024 earnings call last month, Tesla’s VP Vehicle Engineering said that the first mass produced units are planned for late 2025, and the first external customer deliveries will start in 2026. Part of the reason for the lengthy timeline is that the factory that will produce the Semi only just broke ground next to Giga Nevada.

“So we’re finalizing the engineering of the Semi to enable like a super cost-effective, high-volume production with our learnings from our fleet and our pilot fleet and Pepsi fleet, which we are expanding this year marginally. In parallel, as we showed in the shareholders’ deck, we have started construction on the factory in Reno,” Moravy said.

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