Elon Musk Delivers Tesla’s Electric Semi Trucks to PepsiCo

Tesla Inc. has delivered the first of its electric Semi trucks, a milestone more than five years after introducing the vehicle for the automaker.

“If you want the roughest rig on the road, this is it,” CEO Elon Musk said Thursday at Tesla’s battery factory near Reno, Nevada. Two of the key cards are owned by PepsiCo Inc. terminated the delivery activity with the delivery to the manager.

While passenger cars get most of the buzz, electrifying large commercial vehicles is crucial to the transition to more sustainable transportation. Tesla estimates that while combined trucks make up just 1% of the US vehicle fleet, they account for 20% of vehicle emissions.

Tesla designed the Semi around the driver, with a central sitting position, room to stand up and ample storage space. The company has released footage of a 500-mile (805-kilometer) demonstration run carrying a full load on a single charge from its facility in Fremont to San Diego.

Tesla developed a liquid-cooled cable capable of charging one megawatt to quickly replenish the Semi’s battery. Musk said that the technology coming to the company’s compressors next year will also be used for the upcoming Cybertruck.

Tesla shares were little changed as of 5 a.m. Friday in New York before normal trading began.

In Tesla’s latest earnings call, Musk said the company aims to produce 50,000 Semis for North America by 2024. $40,000 is available for commercial vehicles. Musk did not discuss production volume or pricing Thursday evening.

PepsiCo, Walmart Inc., Meijer Inc. and JB Hunt Transport Services Inc. Major fleet operators, such as the largest fleet operators, were among the companies making non-binding reservations for Semi as of 2017. First deliveries go to PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay factory in Modesto, California.

The truck’s program manager, Dan Priestley, said on stage that Tesla will run Semi to transport freight between its plants in Nevada and California so engineers can continually improve the product. He thanked customers for sticking with the company despite setbacks with the model, which was originally scheduled for production in 2019.

“Sorry for the delay,” Musk said. “The big drama between five years ago and now is insane. A lot has happened in the world, but we are here and that is the truth.”

—with Ed Ludlow’s help.

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