Tesla has declared that it has built about 60-70 Semi Class 8 heavy duty electric trucks so far, since it started low-volume production started in the third quarter of last year, on its pilot production line at its Gigafactory Nevada.
This latest production update came from Tesla’s senior manager of semi-truck engineering Dan Priestley, who was speaking with famous US comedian, late night TV host and automotive enthusiast Jay Leno on a recent episode of Jay Leno’s Garage which also saw the famous car collector and host climb behind the wheel of a Tesla Semi.
This was the first production update since learning via a June recall that Tesla had built 36 Semis up tot he end of March this year.
“We’ve made a few dozens of it, we’re up in the maybe 60-70 range, but we’re cranking out just our pilot volume,” Priestley told Leno.
“We’re collecting data, we’re getting a lot of really great driver feedback, and then we’re going to take that time to do a bunch of improvements and bring that into a high volume and really try to be a major player in the market,” he added.
Speaking of high volume, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in June that volume production of the Semi would not start until late 2024, citing battery constraints.
Musk had previously said the Tesla Semi would reach annual production of 50,000 units starting in 2024. He also said in October 2022 that it would take about a year to ramp up Semi production, which would have indicated late 2023-early 2024 as the start of the production ramp.
When volume production does start, it will take place at a new dedicated facility on the Gigafactory Nevada complex. In January this year, Tesla announced a $3.6 billion investment to build the Semi and 4680 cells at Giga Nevada, which will gain 4 million square feet (371,612 square meters) of new manufacturing footprint.
Besides revealing Semi production numbers, Dan Priestley also told Jay Leno that Tesla’s electric truck provides $200,000 in fuel savings in the first three years of operation compared to a diesel truck; he wouldn’t reveal the purchase price, but said it is “very competitive.”
Perhaps more importantly, he revealed that Semi trucks have proven that they can replace diesel trucks on Tesla’s route hauling battery packs from Giga Nevada to the Fremont Factory. Priestley said the Semi has covered the 260-mile trip with the same load along the same route, which means the truck is really capable.