Tesla deliveries the first semi trucks to Pepsi Co
The first Tesla Semis have been delivered, and so has the promise to adhere to the company’s mission: accelerate the advent of sustainable transportation. Yes, it took five years from the first peak at the Semi and three years longer than initially projected, but the Semi is set to change the trucking industry the same way the Model S, 3, X and Y changed the automotive industry.
While Tesla has been increasing the number of passenger vehicles it produces worldwide; these large trucks are not needed at the same level. The company states that 15 million passenger vehicles are sold in the U.S. every year, but only a couple hundred thousand big rigs. So why would Tesla put so much time and effort into something that doesn’t sell as many units?
Musk’s response, “it seems like a small percentage, but it (semi-trucks) is actually 20 percent of U.S. vehicle emissions. Because you’ve got a huge vehicle, and it’s being driven all the time.” Musk said, “Over a third of all the articulate emissions (are from semi-trucks). So, from a health standpoint, particularly in cities, this is a huge impact, like gigantic — that’s why we are doing it.”
The Semi is a Recruiting Tool for Truckers
Back in 2017, Elon Musk said he could drive a Tesla Semi. That was quite a statement, given that trucks this size usually come with anywhere from 10 to 18 gears. However, the CEO did just that five years later. He drove the newest member of the Tesla lineup to the event to deliver the Semi to Pepsi Co. Musk said, “It’s like driving a Tesla, literally.” That is because it’s built the same way with a single stalk to put the vehicle in drive, reverse, neutral or park. “It looks sick. I mean, you want to drive that! That thing looks like it came from the future… It’s fun. It looks awesome, there is a big shortage of drivers, so if you are a truck driver and want the most bad ass rig on the road - this is it.”
The Semi is known as the Beast
Senior Manager of Tesla’s Semi Engineering, Dan Priestley, explained why many people refer to the Semi as the beast. “(It has) three times the power than any diesel truck on the road right now. So you’ve got all the power you need to get the job done, but the other reason that it’s a beast is because it is efficient, you can go 500 miles on a single charge on one of these things. It’s the mix of those two - this is a game-changer. What’s awesome is both of those are enabled by our 1000-volt powertrain. This is the first vehicle we are doing with that.”
That max power combined with hyper-efficiency is due to a tri-motor power train system. One motor is for highway driving and will always be engaged, while the other two are for torque and acceleration. Those motors use the system straight out of the Model S Plaid powertrain. Priestly said, “These are clutched automatically. No driver input is needed. It is seamless.”
Musk commented on the Semi’s performance, “It looks crazy. It looks like an elephant moving like a cheetah.” He was also astonished at the size of the motor powering the Semi. It’s described as the size of a football, “I find it amazing that this enormous thing can be pulled by something that you can carry in your hands — it’s like, wow, that is power density.”
The Semi has been tested in all conditions in the real world, in a lab and virtually. One of those real-world tests was proving the naysayers wrong by taking the Semi for a 500-mile drive, fully loaded, from Fremont to San Diego on just a single charge.
Elon Musk later revealed on Twitter that the Tesla Semi's current efficiency is about 1.7kWh/mile, but that there is a path for Tesla to make it even more efficient. It's not clear whether the additional efficiency could be achieved through software or if it would require hardware changes. The quoted 1.7kWh/mile efficiency is a pleasant surprise, as many were expecting the truck to have an efficiency of about 2kWh per mile.
Speaking of charging, the new V4 Superchargers were also revealed. They produce 1 megawatt of energy and will be used for the Semi and the Cybertruck.
Tesla's Semi Delivery Event
Musk finished the event with this message: This is going to revolutionize the road, make the world a better place in a meaningful way.
Tesla's fourth quarter and 2022 earnings call with investors was mostly good news unless you were planning to drive a Cybertruck soon. While company executives eagerly jumped on every question asked by investors, there was a noticeable pause when a point-blank question was asked about Cybertruck's mid-year production date.
Elon Musk responded "um, we do expect production to start, I don't know, maybe sometime this summer. But I always like to try to downplay the start of production because the start of production is always very slow. It increases exponentially, but it's always very slow at first. So I wouldn't put too much thought in start of production."
Volume Production Next Year
If the millions of people with Cybertruck reservations were in attendance, you might have felt the air leave the room. The previous belief was mass production would start by the end of 2023. There may be some stainless-steel beauties on the road by then, but only a few. "It's kind of when does volume production actually happen, and that's next year," said Musk.
Perhaps sensing some disappointed buyers, Lars Moravy, Tesla's Vice President of Vehicle Engineering added, "(I'd) like just to emphasize on that, we've started installation of all the production equipment here in Giga Texas, castings, general assembly, body shops. We built all our beta vehicles, some more coming still in the next month, but as you said, the ramp will really come 2024."
The Cybertruck Will be Elon's Next Car
Cybertruck was originally announced in 2019 at the memorable event that included the unbreakable armor glass smashing. Musk was wearing the smashed glass Cybertruck t-shirt while taking questions from investors. While the wait continues, he is adamant that it will be worth it, "So it's an incredible product. I can't wait to drive it personally. It will be the car that I drive every day… it's just one of those products that only comes along once in a while, and it's really special."
The original release deadline was set for 2021. However, the production date has been delayed due to unforeseen circumstances, like a global pandemic. Nevertheless, it is a positive sign that beta vehicles have been produced. Images of what appears to be a Cybertruck were leaked a few months ago.
Recently, chief designer Franz von Holzhausen did confirm that the Cybertruck was ready for production, but it's a work in progress. Every Tesla beta product gets thoroughly examined and meticulously reviewed before the next step. But at least it's a step in the right direction.
Tesla set new records in production and deliveries while beating analyst expectations.
Tesla published their Q4 2022 and full-year financial results, setting new records in production and deliveries while beating analyst expectations. Tesla’s annual profit rose to $12.6 billion in 2022, from $5.5 billion in 2021. Annual revenue rose to $81.5 billion, from $53.8 billion the year prior. Tesla reported fourth-quarter revenue of $24.32 billion beating analysts' $24.07 billion estimate. The automaker also reported earnings per share of $1.19 beating analysts' $1.12 estimate.
Tesla’s stock rose more than 5% in after-hours trading following the earnings release and surged more than 10% the next day.
Tesla's Q4 2022 revenue set a new record for the company, up 59% from a year earlier. In addition to automotive revenue of $21.3 billion, Tesla recognized $324 million of deferred revenue from the company’s driver assistance systems.
FSD Beta Numbers
Tesla reported that 90 million miles have now been driven with FSD Beta, up from 58 million miles in the previous quarter. The company also confirmed that they have about 400,000 FSD Beta users in North America, a sizeable increase since the last report. With such a steep increase in miles driven and FSD Beta becoming widely available in North America, Tesla is making significant progress with its autonomous driving software.
In late 2022 and into this year, Tesla began cutting prices on its cars globally. Elon spoke about how recent price cuts have fueled a surge in demand for Tesla: “Thus far in January we’ve seen the strongest orders year-to-date than ever in our history. We’re currently seeing orders of almost twice the rate of production.” He added: “These price changes really make a difference for the average consumer.” Tesla acknowledges that average sales prices have to decrease over time because affordability is part of Tesla's mission to grow into a company that sells multiple millions of cars annually.
Price cuts will impact profitability, but margins should remain healthy, Tesla CFO Zach Kirkhorn affirmed. Tesla has wider operating margins than the industry average, which allows them to make such price cuts.
Elon issued an uncertain forecast for 2023, saying Tesla planned on 1.8 million vehicles for the year without specifying whether that was a target for production or deliveries. If the company were to deliver 1.8 million vehicles in 2023, that would result in 37% annual growth.
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