Innovation

Tesla Semi: Pepsi CEO confirms date of delivery for 100-truck order

It could launch sooner than expected.

Tesla’s next electric vehicle could soon clean up soda deliveries.

On Monday, PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta told CNBC that his company expects to receive deliveries of the Tesla Semi all-electric truck in the fourth quarter of this year. Laguarta, speaking from the COP26 climate change summit in Scotland, cited the truck as part of PepsiCo’s plans to cut emissions.

“We’re already starting to buy electric trucks, actually, from Tesla,” Laguarta said. “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.”

The comments suggest that Tesla’s industry-focused vehicle is set for launch sooner than expected. Tesla CEO Elon Musk first introduced the Semi truck at an event in 2017 with a rather ambitious launch date of 2019. It has an expected base price of $150,000 for the 300-mile range model and $180,000 for the 500-mile range model.

But in the company’s July 2021 earnings update, the company announced that it had shifted the truck’s launch to 2022. At the October shareholder meeting, Musk went a step further and said that “hopefully” Tesla would produce the Semi in 2023.

The battery-hungry beast could cut PepsiCo’s gas emissions, 10 percent of which comes from transportation. It could continue Musk and Tesla’s overall goal to transition the world to sustainable energy sources.

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Tesla Semi truck in blue. The vehicle has remained somewhat elusive since its 2017 unveiling.Tesla

What the pre-order means for the Semi truck — Fulfilling one of the Tesla Semi’s highest-profile orders this year would be a welcome boost for the delayed project.

When PepsiCo pre-ordered 100 trucks in December 2017, it was the largest order to date. It beat Anheuser-Busch, the company behind the Budweiser beer brand, which ordered 40 vehicles the week prior.

Walmart and Pride Group Enterprises subsequently beat PepsiCo’s order size. The companies ordered 130 and 150 trucks respectively last year. The latter company left the option open to increase the order to 500 trucks.

It is unclear how many Tesla Semi vehicles PepsiCo will receive in the first delivery.

Tesla has struggled to produce enough batteries to make all of its planned vehicles. In the July 2021 earnings call, Musk said that both the Semi and the upcoming Cybertruck pickup truck are “heavy users of cell capacity.”

“We can make a small number of vehicles, but the effective cost if you make a small number of vehicles is insane,” Musk said. “Volume production [...] is to get the economies of scale and get the cost down.”

Tesla fans have spotted prototype vehicles in testing. In June 2020, a red Semi was spotted leaving the California facility with a trailer full of cars. In April 2021, a flyover video of that facility showed a prototype on the test track:

The Inverse analysis — Laguarta explained on Monday that PepsiCo replaces its fleet around once every 10 years. That means there will be plenty of opportunity for the company to roll out zero-emissions vehicles.

But the pre-order for 100 trucks is a tiny fraction of PepsiCo’s overall fleet. In 2019, the company gave a statement to a U.S. Congress subcommittee where it revealed it has over 36,000 trucks, the largest independently-owned fleet in the country. It also has over 11,000 tractors, 12,300 vans, and 8,300 service support vehicles.

If Tesla wants to make a real dent in overall emissions, it’s going to have to massively increase production beyond a few smaller orders.

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