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Tesla delivers first heavy-duty semi truck; aims to reduce emissions

Tesla delivers first heavy-duty semi truck; aims to reduce emissions

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Inc, delivered the company's first heavy-duty Semi truck to PepsiCo on Thursday without providing updated forecasts for the truck's pricing, production plans, or how much cargo it could haul.

Musk, speaking onstage at a Tesla event in Nevada, said the battery-powered, long-haul truck would reduce highway emissions, outperform existing diesel models in terms of power and safety, and spin off a fast-charging technology Tesla would use in its upcoming Cybertruck pickup.

Tesla's Semi truck will be "the most badass rig on the road," Elon Musk says. Industry experts remain sceptical that battery electric trucks can take the strain of hauling hefty loads for hundreds of miles economically. Tesla did not announce pricing for the Semi, provide details on variants of the truck it had initially projected or forecast deliveries to PepsiCo or others.

Tesla did not provide details on orders or deliveries to customers, nor an estimate on what the total cost of ownership for future buyers would be compared to diesel alternatives.

Company chief executive Elon Musk has said Tesla would aim to produce 50,000 of the trucks in 2024.

Tesla has completed a 500-mile drive on a single charge, with the Semi and cargo weighing in at 81,000 pounds in total. Musk said the Semi has been doing test runs between Tesla's Sparks, Nevada factory and its plant in Fremont, California. Tesla did not provide details on how Tesla's driver assistance systems would function in the Semi or future versions.

The Semi delivery presentation ended without Musk taking questions, as he often does at Tesla events. "Not very impressive - moving a cargo of chips (average weight per pack 52 grams) cannot in any way be said to be definitive proof of concept," said Oliver Dixon, senior analyst at consultancy Guidehouse.

Tesla had initially set a production target for 2019 for the Semi, which was first unveiled in 2017. In the years since rivals have begun to sell battery-powered trucks of their own.

Daimler's Freightliner, Volvo, startup Nikola and Renault are among Tesla's competitors in developing alternatives to combustion-engine trucks.

Walmart, for instance, has said it has been testing Freightliner's eCascadia and Nikola's Tre BEV trucks in California.

The Semi is capable of charging at 1 megawatt and has liquid-cooling technology in the charging cable in an updated version of Tesla's Supercharger that will be made available to the Cybertruck, Musk said. The Cybertruck is scheduled to go into production in 2023.

Trucks in Semi's category represent just 1% of U.S. vehicle sales but 20% of overall vehicle emissions, Tesla said.

Tesla said other, future vehicles would use powertrain technology developed for the Semi without providing details. The Semi uses three electric motors developed for Tesla's performance version of its Model S, with only one of them engaged at highway speed and two in reserve for when the truck needs to accelerate, a feature that makes the truck more energy-efficient, Musk said.

"This thing has crazy power relative to a diesel truck," Musk said. "Basically it's like an elephant moving like a cheetah."In a slide displayed as part of Musk's presentation, Tesla showed an image of a future "robotaxi" in development with a mock-up of the future car covered under a tarp.

The presentation took place after Tesla shares closed at $194.70. The stock has fallen about 45% so far this year, losing about $500 billion in market capitalisation, down to about $615 billion.

Among factors cited by investors have been Musk's sales of Tesla shares to finance his takeover of Twitter, signs that a slowing global economy has started to cut into demand for Tesla's premium-priced cars, and a warning by the company that it might not meet its target to grow deliveries by 50% this year.

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