Tesla Semi Production Hit by Battery Cell Constraints, But 2021 Deliveries on Track

Tesla’s Semi was spotted in Fremont last month, and that fleeting glimpse will have to hold onlookers over for a while.

In Tesla’s Q4 earnings update Wednesday, CEO Elon Musk announced that the company is putting Semi production on hold until they can begin producing high volumes of its own battery, as reported by CNBC. The first of the class 8 truck is now expected to be delivered by the end of 2021, as Musk shared in the earnings update.

“The main reason we’ve not accelerated new products is — like for example Tesla Semi — is that we simply don’t have enough cells for it. If we were to make the Semi like right now, which we could easily go into production with the Semi, but we would not have enough cells for it right now. We will have enough cells for Semi when we are producing the Tesla 4680 in volume,” explained Musk on the earnings call.

“Basically we do not see any issues with creating a compelling long-range truck with batteries apart from cell supply,” added the Tesla CEO.

The 4680 cells which Tesla unveiled at its Battery Day event last year are tab-less, lithium-ion cells, currently being built at the company’s factory in Fremont. At the earnings update, Musk also shared that once the company can produce a high volume of battery cells on its own, it will likely also develop an electric van, not unlike those made for Amazon Prime by Rivian.

According to Musk, the Semi could require up to five times the number of lithium-ion battery cells that an average electric car would use. Unfortunately, claims Musk, the company will not be able to sell the Semi for five times the price, which is why a high volume of lithium-ion battery cell production could make the build more viable for the company.

Musk’s announcement marks the second year of delays since Tesla first revealed the Semi to the public in 2017, which was expected to be delivered in 2019.