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Tesla's Q1 earnings call sheds new light on Semi development

Mr. Musk gave us some more insight into the specs and development of the Tesla Semi, a vehicle which plans to disrupt trucking.

Tesla Semi

One of the more interesting parts of yesterday's Tesla Q1 earnings call was the conversation surrounding the Tesla Semi. The electric heavy-hauler has been more than a little contentious with some critics decrying the claim that it will have a 500-mile range as breaking the laws of physics.

"If Tesla really delivers on this promise, we'll obviously buy two trucks – one to take apart and one to test because if that happens, something has passed us by," said Martin Daum, head of Daimler trucks in a statement to Bloomberg earlier this year. "But for now, the same laws of physics apply (in Germany and in California)."

Tesla not only believes that a 500-mile range for its Semi is possible, but it's possible right now.


According to Musk and company, not only does that 500-mile range not break the laws of physics, but it's possible with Tesla's current battery technology. Musk went on to say that by the time the truck is ready for production, the range will be closer to 600 miles per charge.

"I think the key point is, it doesn't require some dramatic breakthrough," said J.B. Straubel, Tesla's chief technical officer. "So, there's a fundamental misunderstanding, I think, of what the current technology in our existing products can actually do … we basically have what we need in-house and understand how to do those specs today or better,"

Interestingly, Tesla has only received preorders for around 2,000 trucks to date, a number that was admittedly lower than we had expected given the number of highly publicized preorders from companies like Pepsi and Walmart.

Tesla has received around 2,000 pre-orders for the Semi in its estimation, including high profile orders from Pepsi and Walmart.


"I actually don't know how many reservations we have for the Semi," said Elon Musk, Tesla CEO. "About 2,000? I mean, we haven't really tried to sell the Semi. It's not like there's like an ongoing sales effort, so orders for Semi are like opportunistic. Really companies [are] approaching us."

It will be interesting to see if the pending lawsuit by Arizona-based rival trucking company Nikola has any effect on that. The lawsuit was something that Musk brushed off as being frivolous.

"Nikola is suing Tesla. That's hilarious. Fate loves irony," said Musk. "But they're suing us because the way the trucks look, which is absurd. Nobody's buying a Semi truck because the way it looks, or because [it has] a wraparound windshield or whatever. Please."

The Tesla Semi has big plans to disrupt the trucking industry with lower running costs and huge hauling power.


Tesla's proposed Megacharger network for the trucks also came up, as did the rumored plant charge a fixed rate for the electricity used. The company hasn't yet fleshed out plans for the charging network but agrees that it is critical to the success of not only the Tesla Semi but long-haul electric trucks as a whole.

In all, it seems like things are progressing steadily for Tesla's big-rig, given its test run from Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada, to Fremont, California, earlier in the year. We're looking forward to hopefully having the opportunity to climb around one soon.