We had been waiting for this moment for a very long time until it finally happened. It was way back in 2017 when Tesla presented the first versions of the Tesla Semi; five years during which we witnessed many different delays, various rumors and lots of hope. Finally, and as agreed, the first deliveries of the model were made last night in a grand ceremony held at the Nevada Gigafactory: it is the first time that we can get to see the Semi without its usual white color, this time painted with the official colors of the company for which it is being delivered to. But despite the - very logical - moment of celebration and joy, the gala has also left some shadows along the way.
If we look back to March of this year (2023), we can get to see how the delivery ceremony of the first units has somewhat changed. During the spring Elon Musk celebrated the official opening of the Austin Gigafactory in style and by the way, delivered the first Tesla Model Y that came out of production lines there; a grand show that was not repeated on this occasion. The event was actually way more discreet than usual, and what is most interesting, hardly any new data on the electric truck was revealed: for instance, nothing about production figures or final price.
Pepsico is the first customer to receive the first units of the Tesla Semi. During the gala we were able to see the innumerable sets of tests to which the electric truck has been subjected to; this is possibly the most tested vehicle in the company's history. A job that has taken longer than expected but that is essential and logical, again considering the effort to which it is going to be subjected to in real life conditions. The idea is that more units will come off the assembly line each week, but we cannot know how many because there is no official data on the matter.
Tesla explained the importance of the Semi for the logistics and freight transport industry: in the United States, trucks barely represent 1% of total traffic, but they in fact account for 20% of the emissions of the entire vehicle fleet. A significant fact that can be considerably reduced with class 8 electric trucks such as the Semi. Tesla - and most experts in the field - is convinced that the Semi will revolutionize the industry; its advanced technology will allow for long journeys on a single charge, although once again a lot more official details about many other parameters are needed.
A few days ago some important data came to light, though: the Tesla Semi managed to accomplish a 500 mile trip on a single charge; a truly remarkable milestone considering the demands of the journey. From the Fremont plant to San Diego, California, starting with a 97% battery SOC (State of Charge) and ending the trip at a 4%; with an average consumption of 2 kWh per mile, but we don't know anything about the battery capacity or what factory options Tesla may finally include. That key data still remains a total secret.
The first units delivered will actually continue, for a while, in the testing phase. Pepsico will be introducing the Semi in its national distribution fleet, taking the electric truck to the real roads and highways to demonstrate if it is really capable of offering what is promised. Tesla had announced considerable cost savings five years ago, calculated at around $200,000 over three years of service; an important figure that Pepsico and many other companies will value enormously; at this point we just need to know the final tag price, as there are - very logical - fears that the original figure has actually grown a lot during these five years of waiting.
Whatever the outcome, this is a milestone to be remembered in the history of electric mobility; the first Tesla Semi units being delivered can be considered as the starting point of a new era where new and more advanced electric trucks will replace what is nowadays one of the most polluting and noisy transport fleets in existence.
All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.
Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.