The Tesla Semi is a battery electric Class 8 semi-truck built by Tesla, Inc. since 2022. The truck is powered by three motors, and is claimed by Tesla to have approximately three times the power of a typical diesel semi truck, a range of 500 miles (800 km), and operate at an energy use of less than 2 kWh/mi (1.2 kW⋅h/km).
Two concept vehicles were unveiled in November 2017. Production was originally planned to begin as early as 2019, with Tesla projecting manufacture of as many as 100,000 trucks per year by 2022. Production began in October 2022, and initial deliveries were made to PepsiCo on December 1, 2022.
The Semi was first mentioned in the Tesla 2016 Master Plan. Tesla said at the time that they had a working prototype that used “a bunch” of Tesla Model 3 electric motors.
A concept prototype of the Semi was unveiled at a press conference on November 16, 2017, where Elon Musk provided additional specifics. He claimed that the electric Semi would cost 20 ¢/mi (12 ¢/km) less to operate than a diesel truck if charged at a Megacharger, which Tesla said in 2017 they could guarantee a price of 7 ¢/kWh (in the United States).
Tesla indicated that the Semi would be equipped with Enhanced Autopilot as standard equipment, offering semi-autonomous capability, and that new technology with active safety controls on the independent motors and wheels would detect and prevent jackknifing. Musk said that the system could eventually allow several units to operate in an autopilot-based convoy, led by a truck with a driver, that would be a cheaper alternative to rail transport. At the time, platooning was legal in only eight U.S. states and all required a human driver in each truck, so changes in legislation would be necessary to achieve that technology capability. The battery packs would be located under the floor of the cab, between the front and driving wheels. Running empty, the long-range Tesla Semi was expected to have a range of 620 miles (997 km).
In 2017, Tesla projected that the price of production versions for the 300-mile (480 km) and 500-mile (800 km) range versions would be US$150,000 and US$180,000 respectively. The company stated they would offer a Founder’s Series Semi at US$200,000.[needs update]
At the Semi and Roadster unveiling event, Musk stated “Production [of the semi] begins in 2019, so if you order now, you get the truck in 2 years.” Tesla intends to warrant the drivetrain for 1 million miles.
In 2018, Tesla announced that Semi prototypes were being tested with real cargo, hauling battery packs from Nevada to California.
Company plans to put the semi into production were substantially delayed. At the 2017 unveiling, production was slated to begin in 2019. In June 2019, Tesla projected that production would start by the end of 2020. In January 2020, Musk stated that a lack of battery production capability was one limiting factor for the conservative Semi production timeline, with the company choosing to use battery supply for passenger cars instead.
In January 2021, the company announced that Semi production would be delayed until the end of 2021, as the company hoped to ramp up high-volume production of its tabless 4680 battery cells (previewed in September 2020) to meet the demand for the Semi and other vehicles. In October 2021, Musk announced that the production of the Semi would not start in 2021 and that it could slip into 2023.
In October 2022, Musk announced on Twitter the start of production of the 500-mile (800 km) range model that would be delivered in December.
In November 2022, the company reported that a Tesla Semi had completed a 500 mi (800 km) drive while weighing 81,000 lb (37,000 kg).
On December 1, 2022, Tesla began customer deliveries at an evening event hosted at the manufacturing facility in Nevada. PepsiCo received the first Semis of their large order for use with Pepsi beverage and Frito-Lay snack food transportation fleets. PepsiCo Vice President Mike O’Connell stated that the Semis can haul Frito-Lay food products for around 425 miles (684 km), but for heavier loads of sodas, the trucks will do shorter trips of around 100 miles (160 km).
Before and since the delivery to PepsiCo, several Tesla Semis have been reportedly seen on the side of the road receiving road assistance, raising questions as to their reliability.
In late 2023, Tesla announced plans to establish a charging network for the Semi in the southwestern US. The network is expected to cost as much as $100M.
Tesla Semi is powered by three carbon-fiber wrapped motors, offering three times the power of typical diesel semi trucks, although it consumes only 1.7 kWh/mi (1.1 kW⋅h/km). One motor operates continuously at optimal efficiency, while the other two motors provide additional power for acceleration and hills.
The driver’s seat is centered in the cab. The ceiling allows an adult to stand up. Touchscreen displays are set on both sides of the steering wheel, with no other instrument panels.[better source needed]
It includes the same camera set as Tesla’s passenger vehicles. Tesla claims that its safety system can prevent jackknifing.[better source needed]
Tesla Semi has a 1,000 volt powertrain and charging system, an increase from Tesla’s standard 400 volt system, but a capability Tesla also intends to extend to the Cybertruck. Charging will be supported at a new generation of Tesla vehicle charging infrastructure called the Tesla Megacharger.