Tesla Semi is technically the next vehicle program that the automaker aims to bring to production based on the company’s own timeline.
But now a reservation holder says that they are expecting deliveries in 2020 – a year after Tesla’s targeted start of production.
After unveiling its electric truck prototype and starting to take reservations in November 2017, Tesla announced that it aims to bring the vehicle to production in 2019.
At a University of Pennsylvania summit called ‘Moving America Forward: Next Generation Truck Freight Transport, NFI Industries vice president of fleet services James O’Leary said that his company ordered 10 Tesla Semi trucks and that they were told to expect delivery in 2020 (via Freight Wave):
“They are staying relatively consistent with their timeline, even though Elon doesn’t talk about it on their earnings call,”
During the earnings call last week, Musk actually did say that Tesla “made progress on the semi”, but he didn’t update the timeline.
NFI is amongst the companies most involved in the electrification of trucking.
On top of their Tesla Semi order, the company partnered with Daimler to test their new electric ‘eCascadia’ next year ahead of the planned 2021 production launch.
In 2019, Daimler will “begin delivering” 10 eCascadias to NFI for “drayage activities from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to warehouses in California’s Inland Empire.”
O’Leary says that electric trucks make sense for them since their average length of haul is significantly shorter than the rest of the industry:
“It just makes sense considering the range of our vehicles. The average length of haul for the industry is in the 400s, but ours is in the 300s.”
Tesla is promising 300-mile and 500-mile range options while Daimler is talking about 250 miles of range for the eCascadia.
The company is also working with Volvo Trucks on their own electric truck programs.
O’Leary credited Tesla for getting people to talk about electric trucking:
“Nobody in North America was talking about electric vehicles until your local news outlets picked up the rollout of the Tesla semi. That led basically to what we call the Tesla effect. Now shippers are asking their carriers where you are with electric vehicles.”
The executive still expressed some concerns about Tesla Semi. He thinks the actual cost may end up being higher and the plan for the charging infrastructure is still unclear.
I wouldn’t really take this as a confirmation that Tesla is delaying production of the semi truck at this point.
It might simply be that deliveries for this particular order might be planned for 2020. After all, Tesla has hundreds if not thousands of Tesla Semi reservations.
That said, I am growing increasingly concerned about a start of production in 2019 without yet a confirmed location for the production.
People have been speculating that Tesla could produce the electric semi truck at Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, but we have yet to see any evidence of that happening.
If there’s any production in 2019, I expect that it will only be extremely low volume and they will slowly ramp up – much like with Model 3.
I don’t see this as a problem as long as they deliver with the promised specs and cost, which could dramatically disrupt the trucking industry.
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.