Tesla's long-delayed Semi just took an important step toward becoming a practical reality. As CNET reports, the automaker has started taking reservations for its electric big rig. You'll need to place a $20,000 deposit ($15,000 of it by wire transfer), and Tesla still hasn't narrowed down the launch beyond the expected 2023 production window. Still, this is notable when early commitments have largely been limited to bulk orders from the likes of PepsiCo and Walmart.
The Semi was unveiled in 2017 alongside the second-generation Roadster. The machine was meant to up-end conventional trucking with a maximum 500-mile range, fast "Megacharger" top-ups and a 20-second 0-60MPH time at a loaded weight of 80,000lbs. It's still expected to start at $150,000, making it potentially viable for companies that want inter-city haulers without the usual fuel costs or environmental impact.
As with the new Roadster, though, the launch didn't go according to plan. Tesla has delayed the Semi multiple times, most recently to grapple with chip shortages and limited production capacity for the necessary 4680 battery cells. Reservations at this stage are less about imminent delivery and more about locking in future income, just as Cybertruck deposits (estimated at 1.3 million as of November 2021) helped Tesla secure billions in revenue whenever the pickup arrives.
Still, Tesla might not be too worried about the wait. Rival Nikola is only just ramping up production of its electric semi-truck, and established brands like Freightliner haven't found runaway success with their EVs. The Semi will still enter a relatively young field with both name recognition and technology as advantages.