Tesla (TSLA 0.52%) CEO Elon Musk recently said that his company will finally begin deliveries of the EV maker's semi-truck by the end of this year, five years after the vehicle first debuted. 

For investors who need a quick recap of what the vehicle is and why it could be important to Tesla's lineup, here's a quick overview. 

A white semi-truck.

Image source: Tesla.

1. New tax credits brought the Tesla Semi to life 

The Tesla Semi was first introduced way back in 2017, with the goal of going on sale two years later. But the cost of producing the vehicle sidelined the Semi's production. 

That changed when Congress recently passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which provides up to $40,000 per vehicle in tax credits for commercial EVs. That's a hefty sum, and it appears to have tipped the scale for Tesla, finally making the Semi a viable product. 

2. It's got a lot of batteries

The biggest thing that put the Semi's production on hold for so long is the fact that the vehicle uses five times the number of batteries that Tesla's other vehicles use, making it less cost effective to produce.

Those batteries will give the Semi a range of 500 miles -- an impressive distance when you consider that the distance factors in a gross combination weight (both the vehicle and cargo) of 82,000 lbs. A 300-mile-range version is also expected to eventually be offered.

For reference, Tesla's dual-motor Model S has a range of 405 miles and a weight of just 4,561 lbs (give or take a few hundred extra pounds for the driver and passengers).

3. The Semi is powerful 

Tesla's Semi will have three independent motors on the rear axle, and the company says the truck has a 0-60 mph time of 20 seconds -- five times faster than conventional diesel-powered semis. 

A quick off-the-line time may not exactly be on commercial truckers' wish lists, but it does indicate how powerful Tesla's Semi will be compared to the competition. 

4. It will charge fast 

Tesla says the Semi will reach up to 70% battery charge in just 30 minutes using a charging system specific to the truck, called the Megacharger.  

Tesla has reportedly already begun installing some of these charging stations at some customer locations, including at a Frito-Lay (by PepsiCo) factory in Modesto, California. 

The chargers likely have a 1.5 megawatt (MW) charging output and use a liquid-cooled cable that helps dissipate heat, allowing for fast charging, according to a patent Tesla filed in 2019. 

Besides having Megachargers at some facilities, the details are still sparse on whether or not there will be a Megacharing network installed similar to Tesla's Supercharger network for its other vehicles. 

The company said back in 2017 that it had plans for a Megacharger network, but there doesn't appear to be any movement on that plan right now.

5. First deliveries expected to start in December 

Musk tweeted earlier this month that the first Semi deliveries will start on Dec. 1, with PepsiCo receiving the first vehicles.

It's not known how many of the semi trucks the snack food and beverage giant will receive with the first order, but Pepsi already pre-ordered 100 of the trucks a few years ago. Additional customers include Walmart, UPS, Sysco, and others.

Good news for existing shareholders

Entering a new product segment is certainly good news for Tesla and its existing shareholders, and Tesla is doing it at a time when the semi-truck industry is ripe for disruption.  

Total sales of Class 8 semi-trucks reached 221,889 in 2021, up 15.6% annually, and right now there are only a handful of long-haul EV trucks available. 

It's likely that any orders Tesla delivers for its Semi will be small for some time as customers slowly integrate EV semi-trucks into existing fleets of diesel-powered trucks. That's not bad news for Tesla, it just means that Tesla Semi's story is just starting, and investors who are looking for a reason to buy or sell Tesla shouldn't use this latest news as a reason to do either. 

Instead, current shareholders and prospective investors should view the Semi as yet another move in the right direction for Tesla as the company tries to upend an entirely new vehicle segment. Success in this category could add additional revenue to the company's top line, and given Tesla's continued success in producing profitable vehicles, it's likely that the company's potential in the EV-powered semi-truck market is just getting started.