Elon Musk, CEO of Silicon Valley automaker Tesla has postponed plans to reveal the company’s electric semi-truck, stating via Twitter that the “Semi specs are better than anything I’ve seen reported so far,” and that “Semi eng/design team work is aces, but other needs are greater right now.”
Other tweets included kudos to his team; “Team has done an amazing job.” “Seriously next level.”
This informal announcement on October 6, comes after Musk announced that he intended to reveal the new electric semi-truck on October 26, a full month later than originally planned.
Hyping the new electric semi-truck
Musk has been hyping the new electric semi in tweets over the past months with comments like “Worth seeing this beast in person.” “It’s unreal.” What’s clear is that Tesla’s plans for the electric semi-truck will change the future of the freight hauling business. Electric trucks paired with the prospect of self-driving trucks in the next decade will shape the future of how the trucking and freight industries do business.
Tesla’s new electric semi-truck may also be self-driving. While it’s still unclear whether the new Tesla electric semi-truck will have self-driving capability, it’s hard to imagine that Musk’s vision for this truck will not include at least some autonomous, self-driving features. Fueling the fire of curiosity about the new electric semi-truck, Tesla representatives met with state representatives from California and Nevada this summer to discuss testing an autonomous-driving semi-truck. We’ll have to wait a bit longer to get the full scoop, but it now looks possible that Tesla may unveil an electric-powered, self-driving semi by the end of 2017.
While a delayed product reveal can often indicate design or production problems, it seems clear that Tesla pushed back the reveal of its semi-truck by three weeks to focus the company on boosting production of Model 3 Tesla sedans to increase sales. With more than 500,000 people with reservations for the Model 3, Tesla must ramp up production to meet the growing demand. As such, Tesla resources will be focused on the Model 3, Musk wrote in a tweet Oct. 6.
Another reason for the delay with the electric semi-truck is that Tesla is also giving generously to help the people of Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria. Tesla plans to send hundreds of its Powerwall systems, which can be paired with solar panels, to help the people of Puerto Rico as they struggle with massive sustained power outages across the island.
Scott Hecht from Nationwide Transportation believes that this new electric, autonomous semi-truck will create a clear gap between freight transportation leaders and second-tier competitors.
“Freight transportation leaders will embrace this new technology and seek a way to dominate and use this new technology to their advantage. They will invest and will reap the benefits,” said Hecht. “Their competitors may play the wait and see game, and invest at a later date or only when future mandates force their compliance. It will be interesting to see which companies embrace the future of electric, self-driving freight trucks, and which ones will take a more cautious approach.”
There is time for the freight transportation industry to research and plan for the future. The first version of the electric truck to be released by Tesla will likely be a concept vehicle, and not a production model. Production models are likely projected for a 2020 release, giving the industry a couple of years to get comfortable with the new electric, self-driving landscape in the not so distant future.