In November 2017, Tesla held an event in Los Angeles to introduce a new electric semi-truck that was set to revolutionize the trucking industry. More than three years later, the Tesla Semi still has to materialize.
During the company’s Q42020 earnings call, Elon Musk clarified what’s stopping the new truck from hitting the road. The obstacle that Tesla hasn’t been able to clear yet is battery cell availability. “If we were to make the Semi right now, and we could easily go into production with the Semi right now”, Musk said, “we would not have enough cells for it.”
Tesla’s CEO is convinced that the plans could change when the new higher-density 4680 battery cell design goes into production at Tesla’s Gigafactories. “A Semi would use typically five times the number of cells that a car would use, but it would not sell for five times what a car would sell for, so it kind of would not make sense for us to do the Semi right now,” Musk said. “But it will absolutely make sense for us to do it as soon as we can address the cell production constraint.”
While Tesla keeps waiting for the right moment to get its Semi into production, competing companies have already started delivering their hydrogen-powered semi-trucks. For example, Hyundai delivered its first orders of Hydrogen trucks to customers in Europe, while preparing for a China and U.S. launch in 2021. Later this year, Toyota and its subsidiary Hino are expected to introduce their first fuel cell semi-truck in North America. At the same time, Hyzon Motors, the U.S. spin-off of Singapore-based Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies, expects to deliver up to 5000 hydrogen trucks and buses as of 2023.