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Tesla finally delivers first electric Semi to Pepsi after years of delay

Yesterday, Elon Musk appeared at his first Tesla unveiling since he took the helm at Twitter. At a Tesla plant in Nevada, the billionaire announced that after five long years, Tesla’s first heavy-duty Semi had been delivered to PepsiCo.

The Semi, Tesla announced, would go into production in 2023 and feature an updated version of Tesla’s Supercharger, which uses liquid-cooling technology in its charging cable and is capable of charging the large electric vehicle at 1 megawatt.

“If you’re a trucker and you want the most badass rig on the road, this is it,” Musk told those gathered for the reveal, according to a Reuters report.

However, Musk failed to clarify key details like how much the Semis can haul, how much they will cost, and when Tesla will start producing hundreds of Semis for companies that pre-ordered them as early as 2017. Analysts told Reuters that they were especially disappointed that Tesla did not disclose the weight of an unloaded Semi, which would have helped them calculate efficiency on the road.

Instead, Musk touted truck features, painting a future of fleets of Tesla long haulers helping to reduce highway emissions while outperforming today’s diesel trucks. Musk seemed most excited about the Semi’s powertrain technology, which relies on three motors to generate “crazy power,” Musk said, by engaging one at highway speed and reserving two for acceleration. He likened the Tesla Semi to “an elephant moving like a cheetah.”

Tesla did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.

Reuters reported that Tesla would use the Semi to transport parts between its Nevada and California plants. In test runs, Tesla completed a 500-mile haul of 81,000 pounds (a total that includes the truck’s weight and cargo), but that didn’t impress everyone gathered. Oliver Dixon, a senior analyst at the consultancy firm Guidehouse, told Reuters the truck is “not very impressive” and still could not be considered a “definitive proof of concept” without key details that Tesla failed to share during its event.

Five years ago, when Tesla offered the world its first look at the Semi in 2017, Pepsi promptly ordered 100 trucks. It was expected that the trucks would be hauling loads for companies like Pepsi, United Parcel Service, and Walmart by 2019. But production of the heavy-duty truck became stalled while competitors beat Tesla to market with rival fully electric Class 8 vehicles. Before this week, the only glimpse that the public got suggesting that the Semi could soon be hitting roads was a prototype spotted in 2018.

Now, with the Tesla trucks already significantly delayed, Pepsi got the first one. But companies still aren’t sure when Tesla will be prepared to ship more trucks. Musk had previously promised to produce 50,000 Semis in North America in 2024.

Pepsi got a chance to test the truck and finally did a cargo run this week, though. A driver for the company rolled up in the Semi to bring snacks to attendees of Musk’s reveal.

At the reveal, Musk also teased a new “robotaxi” in development at Tesla and suggested that the fast-charging technology propelling the updated Supercharger would also be used to power the Tesla pickup truck.

All these announcements came after Musk discussed drops in Tesla stock by 45 percent. Last month, Reuters reported that Tesla investors were concerned by how much time and money—including selling billions in Tesla stock—Musk was devoting to Twitter, potentially distracting him from completing Tesla projects.

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