Tesla delivers first Semis to PepsiCo, reveals some new details

tesla semi
Credit: Tesla Semi

Tesla held its special Semi delivery event on Thursday night at Giga Nevada, five years after first unveiling the electric truck. The milestone event was more of a ceremonial one as Tesla actually delivered the first Semi to PepsiCo’s FritoLay facility in Modesto, California the day before.

The event kicked off in typical Tesla fashion with Elon Musk driving one of the Semi trucks out to the stage, which was a semi trailer itself.

Musk had already confirmed the Semi was able to travel 500 miles (804km) on a single charge, matching the specs he promised it would have all the way back in 2017, and on Thursday he revealed some more, but not all of the other details we were hoping to hear.

Powering the Semi is a tri-motor drivetrain, with one of those motors used specifically to maximize efficiency by only using it at cruising speeds. The other two motors kick in for added torque and acceleration, like when driving up a grade.

The motors themselves are extremely powerful and compact, with Musk explaining that you can carry one in your hand, yet it is more powerful than a traditional diesel semi engine.

To show just how powerful, a video clip was shared showing a fully-loaded Tesla Semi tackling Donner Pass, a 6% grade, with ease. The Semi was able to pass another traditional diesel semi, with the video showing the Semi was still accelerating while passing the traffic going up the grade.

Musk also provided more details on the recent 500-mile range test, confirming it was done on a single change and in real-world traffic conditions from Fremont to San Diego. The stats showed it could have actually travelled further as it started with a 97% charge and ended with still 4% remaining, indicating the 500 miles used up 93% of its battery.

When that battery does get low, it can be charged quickly with 1,000 volt architecture and 1MW+ DC fast charging capability. Musk also confirmed this 1MW charging will be coming with the Cybertruck.

Some of the stats we didn’t hear from Musk was how much the Semi will cost, how much it weighs, and how many they are currently producing at their special Semi factory next to Giga Nevada.

Back in 2017 the 500-mile version was supposed to cost $180,000, but a lot has changed in five years and it would not be surprising if that price is now above $200,000. The weight of the Semi itself is also important as it will determine how much weight the truck can pull. Musk said that electric trucks can have a combined weight (truck and trailer and cargo) of 82,000lbs, but if the Semi itself weighs half of that amount, then that obviously cuts into your margins as a truck operator.

According to board chair Robyn Denholm, Tesla is hoping to produce 100 Semis this year, before ramping up to as many as 50,000 in 2024, a number which would make Tesla one of the biggest class 8 truck manufacturers in North America.

You can watch the full delivery event below.

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Founder and Editor-in-chief of Drive Tesla Canada | Darryn@DriveTeslaCanada.ca Have a Tesla tip? Email tips@driveteslacanada.ca, or DM us on Twitter @DriveTeslaca