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Tesla Semi begins production, but don’t expect the Megacharger truck to stop anytime soon


Tesla is starting production of its electric Semi, and the first of them will be delivered to Pepsi starting December 1, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed Thursday via Twitter.

It was a long way to production for the project, which was revealed in 2017, with the company later saying the Semi would go into production in 2019.

That said, it’s earlier than Musk gave shareholders confidence earlier this year. Most recently in January, Musk said that the wait for the Cybertruck, Roadster, and Semi will last until 2023as the company pushes ahead with new products and focuses on expanding output of its existing products this year, as well as dealing with supply chain delays and chip shortages.

Not the first, but a huge efficiency advantage?

Considering the delay, Tesla isn’t the first to sell Class 8 electric vehicles. One of its other competitors, Freightliner, announced its first pre-production eCascadia models in 2019 and brought the trucks in. used with customers, accumulating over a million real-world miles by 2021. The eCascadia goes into regular mass production in May.

Prototype for Tesla electric semi-trailer truck

Prototype for Tesla electric semi-trailer truck

Musk confirmed in a follow-up tweet that the Semi will have a 500-mile range and “extremely fun to drive.” Range would be a big advantage over the eCascadia’s 230 miles, with its 438 kWh battery pack, if it proves to be true – and skeptics remain. Final specs of the Semi-Final have not been posted yet.

In August, Musk suggested the Semis would start shipping later this year, but if there’s a Tesla project with more timelines than fans can keep up with, it’s already happened.

It’s about the battery

The reason Musk speaks out the most is related to the battery. At various points, Musk explained that the production ramp-up of the Semi was partially or fully delayed because of it. depends on a lot of cellsSemi requires five times as many cells as a car.

Cylindrical cell - Panasonic hints at 4680 . process

Cylindrical cell – Panasonic hints at 4680 . process

Musk also complained in July 2021 that the company “Baskin-Robbins of the battery”—Read: too many types — situations that need to be remedied. But in the end, it was the all-for-all approach that got the company enough batteries — including the company’s own ramp with the 4680 cell format, the continued use of the 2170 format for a wide range of vehicles. and switch to LFP . cells for some models.

Then, in September, Tesla’s director of investor relations, Martin Viecha, suggested, at a Goldman Sachs presentation, that cell supply was no longer such an issue.

Tesla Supercharger V3 Station, Las Vegas

Tesla Supercharger V3 Station, Las Vegas

So, with Semis coming to some high-visibility fleets soon, how will they get the fee for quick turnaround? In short, don’t look for big Megacharger truck stops ready to service Tesla Semis, like its Supercharger stations do for its EVs. Don’t look for Megachargers at Supercharger stations.

The time of Tesla Megachargers has passed

According to Tesla’s Senior Director of Charge Policy, Francesca Wahl, in a Q&A last week at the CharIn North America Conference in Portland, attended by Mr. green car report, it’s not going to happen — at least not anytime soon.

“We don’t necessarily picture ourselves as public – even heavy-duty – owner-operator of fast charging, unless it’s for our fleet,” Wahl said. Wahl responds to a question about how Tesla plans to get into megawatt-charge levels.

“So like everyone else, there will probably be a lot of warehouse charging at first, then there will be public charges,” added Wahl. “And so I think we’re really interested in seeing who’s going to play that role, how federal funding is going to play that role, and providing support as well; but I don’t think you’ll soon see Supercharger sites as heavy duty sites. “

The 1.5 megawatt Tesla Megacharger concept, essentially implemented with the Semi prototype, has already been installed in test units at the Nevada Gigafactory, at the Frito-Lay headquarters, and presumably at other customer facilities. .

Freightliner eCascadia

Freightliner eCascadia

But it may not go any further than this. Tesla is not exclusive to its charging format in Europe. There, where the toll infrastructure was already built at the time of market entry, their vehicles use the CCS format. And with the added hurdles of choosing and building a megawatt station — plus the potential for unpredictable format paychecks — there are incentives to go with Megawatt charging standardor MCS, which the CharIn conference focuses on.

Tesla proposes in 2020 that it is looking for deploy infrastructure with other partiesand set on a standard powerful enough to charge the truck during the mandatory break. And with the automaker continuing to be involved in the development of the Megawatt Charging Standard, or MCS, that’s working. Instead of a bottleneck between multiple charging standards, future rare and expensive infrastructure megawatt truck stop hopes to be rolled out to reduce pollution and carbon emissions for everyone who wants to ship goods around, not just those who choose a single brand.

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