Since its initial reveal in 2017, the Tesla Semi has remained elusive. The long haul truck was initially slated for production in 2019, but has been plagued by delays. The first trickle of deliveries finally began in December 2022, but between then and Q1 2024, less than 150 units were produced.

Most production has gone directly to Tesla's company fleet. PepsiCo is the only Semi customer to actually take delivery, although only 34 of the 100 orders placed by PepsiCo have been fulfilled so far.

So last month, Tesla took the stage at the 2024 Advanced Clean Transportation Expo (ACT) in Las Vegas to assure the world that the Semi is still on track, even if progress is moving more slowly than expected. Senior Manager Dan Priestley says Tesla is committed to the electrification of the trucking industry, stating that they “look forward to bringing our experience with EVs and supporting infrastructure to tackle electric heavy trucking at scale.”

Tesla talks Semi At ACT Expo: 'Now is the time for scale.'

At the event, Priestley also announced that an additional 50 Semis would soon join PepsiCo’s fleet. This news follows reports that big box retailers Costco and Walmart have also launched pilot programs.

Of course, this is just a preamble to the automaker’s future ambitions. Last year, the company announced a $3.6 billion factory to support Tesla Semi production in Nevada. Construction of the facility began in January of this year. Mr. Priestley says Tesla is aiming for volume production in 2026, eventually producing as many as 50,000 units a year. 

Hands-on and test-ride experiences were also available at the show. Kyle from the YouTube channel Out of Spec Reviews got to experience the Semi up close for the first time. While his presentation is light on technical details, it provides a good overview of the truck’s features and capabilities.

Tesla Semi! My First Look & Ride In This Awesome Electric Truck

One of the first things Kyle showcases is the storage area located behind the main cabin. This is accessed via an exterior hatch situated just behind the main cabin door. While the Tesla Semi has a lot of space in the cabin, there is a lack of dedicated storage. So, this storage solution will certainly come in handy for drivers. 

We also get a quick look at the Semi's Megawatt Charging System (MCS) port. The MCS charging standard can transfer a whopping 3.75 megawatts of power to large electric vehicles like the Semi. While early units of the Semi feature an MCS v.2 plug, future production will employ the newer v.3 design.

The unusual center seating position remains the interior's most standout feature. The rest of the styling, displays, and user interface will be familiar to anyone who has driven a Tesla. One interesting tidbit is that over the past 1,800 miles, this particular truck’s efficiency has been 1.7 kWh / mile. Although it is unknown whether these miles were tallied while hauling freight, the numbers are in line with what Tesla promised for the vehicle when carrying cargo. 

While Out of Spec was able to spend time riding shotgun in the Semi, they couldn’t film the experience. Thankfully, Andre from the TFL was allowed to record his ride-along.

Almost Driving The New Tesla Semi-Truck!

After one of Tesla’s engineers takes the wheel of the Semi, Andre is given a rundown of the truck and its capabilities. Currently, the long-range model is still the only version to enter production. Sporting a massive battery pack estimated at 850 - 900 kWh, the Semi has a tri-motor configuration and over 1,000 hp. 

A single motor “efficiency drive” axle is located in the rear and operates at all times. A dual-motor “torque-drive” axle is located in front and provides most of the truck’s power under heavy load. This front axle is utilized only when necessary, sitting dormant whenever possible to improve efficiency.

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Since Andre has his own commercial driver’s license, he immediately notes the calm and quiet cabin experience compared to a traditional diesel engine. The cabin is also free of the creaks and rattles you often find in ICE truck platforms converted to hybrid or electric drive. The familiar Tesla user interface is also appreciated, as is the truck’s large, easy-to-access door located on the back side of the cab. 

“I got to say, it seems very refined." Andre says. "Very nice as far as how the cab is built, the accessibility of it, the capability of it.” While he may not have been behind the wheel, he was impressed with the Semi’s ride, range, and charging capabilities.

Still, he notes that the limited availability of megawatt charging holds back its current potential. “I would say for shorter trips, it’s hard to beat. For cross-country trips, it’s a different story.”

With missed production goals and slow deliveries, there is no doubt that the Semi has had a rough launch. But it is good to see progress on the Nevada production facility and a new batch of trucks on their way to customers.

Do you think Tesla will finally hit volume production in 2026 as planned? Or are we looking at another false start? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Gallery: Tesla Semi new photos

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