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Elon Musk Says Tesla Will Ramp Up Production of Semi Truck

By Scott Levine – Updated Jun 10, 2020 at 5:14PM

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The outspoken CEO wants to see his Semis on the road, but several questions remain.

Unveiled in November 2017, Tesla's (TSLA -1.11%) Semi, Class 8 electric truck, isn't rolling along on America's highways and byways yet. Evidently, Elon Musk is ready to change that. In an email reportedly seen by Reuters, Musk states that now's the time to bring the electric Semi to "volume production" and specified that "[p]roduction of the battery and powertrain will take place at Giga Nevada."

Although Musk appears to be giving the green light to mass production of the vehicle, he didn't provide a timeline for production nor did he indicate where the rest of the vehicle apart from its battery and powertrain would be produced.

The Tesla Semi drives on a country highway.

Image source: Tesla corporate website.

Characterizing the Semi as "the safest, most comfortable truck ever" on its website, Tesla offers two options for the vehicle in terms of range: 300 miles and 500 miles. Moreover, Tesla contends that owners will net $200,000 in fuel savings and a two-year payback period, though it's unclear what gas price Tesla is using to make that estimate.

Musk's email regarding production of the Semi comes shortly after another electric vehicle manufacturer Nikola (NKLA -4.32%) has stepped into the spotlight.  Unlike Tesla, which is only producing battery-powered trucks, Nikola will offer vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells under the hood in addition to battery-powered trucks targeting other end markets. Another distinguishing factor between the two vehicles is the range. According to Nikola, the range of its Nikola One electric semi is 500 miles to 750 miles. While the race between the two companies seems to be heating up, it's worth noting that both Tesla and Nikola have only produced a limited number of prototype vehicles so far -- though Nikola has announced plans to begin production of its battery electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles in 2021 and 2023, respectively.

The road race between Tesla and Nikola is not limited to Class 8 trucks. Earlier this week, Nikola CEO Trevor Milton said that the company will begin to take reservations for its electric pickup truck, the Badger, in late June, representing competition to Tesla's upcoming Cybertruck.

Scott Levine has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Tesla, Inc. Stock Quote
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