The assumptions that Tesla's battery constraints might affect the market launch of the Tesla Semi were correct.
Tesla's Elon Musk has recently released another tweet, clarifying that there is no problem on the demand side, but in the short-term, batteries are the bottleneck:
"Demand is no problem, but near-term cell supply makes it hard to scale Semi. This limitation will be less onerous next year."
Tesla is expected to use in the Semi its new, high-energy dense and potentially significantly less expensive 4680 cylindrical battery cells.
Those cells are currently produced only on a pilot scale (the output is undisclosed, but the long-term target is 10 GWh annually) in Fremont, California.
At this point we are not really sure whether Tesla can't produce enough cells for quick ramp-up of the Semi, or the problem is rather that the company has to provide the cells for other projects (Tesla Model Y in Europe, and new vehicles in Texas).
Assuming a 500 kWh battery pack, the Semi would need 500 MWh or 0.5 GWh per 1,000 vehicles. That's just a small amount compared to an example of 100,000 Model Y with a 80 kWh packs, which translates to 8 GWh.
To make first 100 Semis, Tesla would need only 50-100 MWh of batteries (depending on the pack capacity). The lack of such a small amount would indicate limitations at the pilot battery plant.
A separate issue is that for EV manufacturers, it's probably more profitable to use the same amount of battery cells to sell 10 cars than a single truck. In other words, as long as there is a growing demand for cars, the expansion into trucks is not the best business idea.
Tesla Semi specs:
- Range – 300 or 500 miles (483 or 804 km)
- Energy Consumption – Less than 2 kWh / mile
- Acceleration 0-60 mph with 80,000 lbs load – 20 sec
- Speed up a 5% Grade – 60 mph
- Powertrain – 4 Independent Motors on Rear Axles
- Fuel Savings – $200,000+
- Expected Base Price (300 mile range) – $150,000
- Expected Base Price (500 mile range) – $180,000
- Base Reservation – $20,000
- Expected Founders Series Price – $200,000
- Founders Series Reservation – $200,000
* Prices displayed in USD. International pricing will vary.