On December 1, Tesla delivered the first production Semi electric trucks to PepsiCo in California, marking a pivotal moment in the company's history as it added Class 8 electric semi-trucks to its portfolio.
Many details are still missing regarding the Tesla Semi, though, including essential ones like payload and pricing. Reuters managed to learn some new tidbits of information about the Semi from PepsiCo CEO Vice President Mike O'Connell in an exclusive interview.
The executive said PepsiCo plans to roll out 100 Tesla Semis in 2023, when it will start using the heavy-duty trucks to make deliveries to customers like Walmart and Kroger. The company aims to deploy 15 trucks from Modesto and 21 from Sacramento. As for the rest of the fleet, O'Connell said PepsiCo is targeting a rollout in the central US next, followed by the East Coast.
Here comes the interesting part about the use cases and range of the Tesla Semi. PepsiCo's Frito-Lay division, which sells lightweight food, will use the Semi to haul food products for around 425 miles (684 kilometers). This is roughly in line with the driving range of 500 miles (804 kilometers) Tesla said the Semi can achieve—and demonstrated it—with a Gross Combination Weight (GCW) of 82,000 pounds (37,194 kilograms).
However, for heavier loads of sodas, PepsiCo's Tesla Semis will initially do shorter trips of around 100 miles (161 kilometers), O'Connell said. Eventually, the company will also use the Semis to haul beverages in the "400 to 500 mile range as well."
Why use a semi-truck that has a claimed range of 500 miles for trips of just 100-miles initially? PepsiCo's vice president did not elaborate. However, he revealed that at the end of a 425-mile (684-kilometer) trip carrying Frito-Lay products the Semi's battery has roughly 20 percent left, with a recharge taking around 35 to 45 minutes.
Speaking of charging, O'Connell revealed that PepsiCo is upgrading its charging infrastructure with four 750-kilowatt Tesla charging stalls at both its Frito-Lay Modesto and Pepsi Beverages Sacramento locations in California.
PepsiCo's vice president said a $15.4 million state grant and $40,000 federal subsidy per vehicle will help offset part of the development and infrastructure costs—of which there are "lots." The executive added that PepsiCo aims to keep the trucks for "a million miles, seven years," which will also help it recoup some of the operating costs.
As for pricing, the company declined to share details, although O'Connell did note PepsiCo is buying the trucks "outright." Rival trucks sell for $230,000 to $240,000, but the 500-mile Tesla Semi could be priced higher because its battery pack is about twice the size of many competitors, Mark Barrott of consulting firm Plante Moran told Reuters. PepsiCo did not share specifics on the weight of the truck (and therefore its payload) either.