Industry News

Tesla Semi set for real world application

The first Tesla Semi prototypes are hotly anticipated for arrival at PepsiCo by the end of the month.

PepsiCo first signed on for Elon Musk’s electric-powered Class 8 heavy truck back in 2017 when it had placed an order for 100.

The first 15 of these are now expected to be delivered in late January following sightings of new prototypes outside Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada.

The upgraded versions of the Alpha model, developed several years ago are set to be equipped with 4,680 battery cells.

Several Tesla Megachargers have been installed at PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay facility in Modesto, California in anticipation of the coming of the new vehicles.

It is understood the Megachargers charge at 1.5 MW, exceeding the initially announced charge rate by 50 per cent, and in doing so ensure a faster charging time for the all-electric trucks.

An official permit for the installation of a Tesla Megacharger, an adaptation of Tesla’s Supercharger, had been granted to PepsiCo on 22 November.

The vehicles have, until now, been expected to be available outside Australia although that could change if the Electric Vehicle Council has its way after it outlined a series of reforms to facilitate the uptake of electric trucks in the local market including a revision to truck dimensions.

The Tesla Semi had been considered too wide for Australian highways under current ADR laws in which a commercial vehicle cannot, without special exemption, be wider than a 2.5 metres.

The Tesla Semi currently exceeds this regulation by 34 millimetres.

Supply constraints, particularly of semi-conductors from Asia, of which the Tesla Semi will be heavily reliant, had been considered the latest in a series of factors delaying its arrival even further since battery supply shortages first stalled its production.

Mass production of the Tesla Semi is currently scheduled for 2023.

PepsiCo’s CEO Ramon Laguarta had confirmed the beverage giant was preparing to take delivery of the first set of Tesla Semis by Q4, 2021, a surprise to many after Elon Musk watered down hope last year that manufacturing capacity would be anything but limited given the ongoing componentry disruptions in Asia impacting the global automotive industry.

In a response to a question regarding emissions from CNBC at COP26 last November, Laguarta let the cat out of the bag when he verified PepsiCo replaced its fleet regularly a little over every ten years.

“We’re already starting to buy electric trucks actually from Tesla. I mean I don’t want to promote anybody but that’s the brand we’re using so far and we’re getting our first deliveries this Q4,” he said.

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