Waiting for a Tesla Semi? It'll be at least 2022. - Photo: Tesla

Waiting for a Tesla Semi? It'll be at least 2022.

Photo: Tesla

Companies such as UPS and FritoLay will have to wait a little longer for their all-electric Tesla Semi Class 8 trucks, as a second-quarter earnings report pushed production out to 2022. It’s just the latest delay in a string of them since the Semi was unveiled in 2017 with a projected date of 2019 for availability.

Back in January, Tesla’s Elon Musk said the Tesla Semi was ready for production, held back only by a limited ability to get battery cells, but he was optimistic that the setback was only temporary.

In fact, in March, a PepsiCo press release about the transformation of its Modesto, Calif. Frito-Lay manufacturing site into a “showcase for environmentally sustainable manufacturing, warehousing and distribution,” it said the site had nearly 60 tractors, box trucks, yard trucks or forklifts powered by electric, lithium-ion technologies or renewable natural gas, with the remaining 15 electric tractors expected to deploy later this year, which published reports indicated referred to its Tesla Semi order.

However, in its second-quarter earnings report, Tesla said that to better focus on its Berlin and Austin factories for the Model Y, “and due to the limited availability of battery cells and global supply chain challenges, we have shifted the launch of the Semi truck program to 2022."

It also said it is “making progress on the industrialization of Cybertruck, which is currently planned for Austin production subsequent to Model Y.” Cybertruck is Tesla's electric pickup truck.

A chart showing “installed annual capacity” shows the Tesla Semi with location TBD and status “in development.” The Cybertruck electric pickup status is also “in development.”

The news came after just last week, Electrek reported that the Semi was finally nearing production. In March, Electrek exclusively reported that Tesla was building a production line for the Tesla Semi at a new building near Gigafactory Nevada to produce five Tesla Semi electric trucks per week by the end of the year. Last week, sources familiar with the matter told Electrek that the drive axle production line was ready and the general assembly line was going through its final debugging before starting production — one of the last steps before starting production.

However, as Electrek reported this week, any significant production depends on the availability of Tesla’s new 4680 battery cells.

Tesla Semi: A Story of Delays

A little more than a year ago, in June 2020, reports indicated that Musk told his staff in an email it was time to “go all out” to bring the Tesla Semi commercial truck to “volume production,” but he didn’t specify a time frame.

Initially, when the Tesla Semi was introduced in 2017, Musk announced production would begin in 2019. Companies such as Anheuser-Busch, J.B. Hunt, Fedex and UPS put in orders.

Over the next year, Tesla Semis were spotted along highways and details started to emerge on an electric truck charging network.

Then, in April 2019, during Tesla’s first-quarter earnings call, company officials indicated that production would begin in 2020. This was pushed back further in January, when a leaked email sent by Tesla to a company that had reserved one of the Semis reportedly said production would begin in the second half of 2020, with a limited run.

Then in spring of 2020, Musk said in an earnings call that the long-awaited battery-electric truck wouldn’t be in production until 2021.

About the author
Deborah Lockridge

Deborah Lockridge

Editor and Associate Publisher

Reporting on trucking since 1990, Deborah is known for her award-winning magazine editorials and in-depth features on diverse issues, from the driver shortage to maintenance to rapidly changing technology.

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