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Tesla Will Deliver Its First Semi Trucks to Pepsi in December, 3 Years Past Deadline

Considering the relationship Musk has with deadlines, Pepsi is no doubt crossing its fingers and hoping that this delivery date is actually real.

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Elon Musk stands in front of a Tesla semi truck in 2017.
Many years ago, or so it seems, Elon Musk announced the semi truck. Now we may finally see them on the roads.
Photo: Veronique DuPont / AFP (Getty Images)

Amid revived drama with Twitter that’s causing whiplash across the internet, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is doing one of the things he’s best at: distracting the public with a shiny new statement.

On Thursday evening, Musk tweeted that Tesla would finally deliver its long-promised semi trucks, an all-electric vehicle the company says is capable of traveling 500 miles (805 kilometers) on a single charge, and planned to make its first deliveries to PepsiCo on Dec. 1—or about three years after Tesla told PepsiCo it would get the trucks. In a statement to Gizmodo, PepsiCo confirmed it was expecting the trucks on that date at two plants in California. 

Considering Musk’s infamous habit of missing deadlines—as well as how preoccupied he’s been with buying Twitter, dissing it, pulling out of the deal, and then saying he’ll buy it after all—the fact that the Semi is behind schedule is no surprise.

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“Excited to announce start of production of Tesla Semi Truck with deliveries to @Pepsi on Dec 1st!” Musk wrote on Twitter, adding: “500 mile range & super fun to drive.”

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Tesla announced its Semi trucks back in 2017 and quickly received reservations from big-name companies, including Walmart, DHL, Anheuser Busch, and PepsiCo, all of which had to fork over a deposit of between $5,000 and $20,000 per vehicle. In terms of the full price, the company has said that the base model with a 300-mile range (483 kilometers) will cost an estimated $150,000, while the model with the 500-mile range (805 kilometers) will cost approximately $180,000.

Based on Musk’s tweets on Thursday and from back in August, it appears that Tesla began to produce the 500-mile range models this year. It’s not clear when the 300-mile range models will start shipping, though Musk promised December first in his tweet.

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PepsiCo reserved 100 Semi trucks in 2017 in an effort to reduce fuel costs and emissions, according to Reuters.

“If you order the truck now,” Musk said at the Semi’s reveal in 2017, “you’ll get it in two years.”

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Companies that took Musk at his word therefore expected to receive their sleek and shiny Semi trucks in 2019. That didn’t happen. Instead, Tesla put its energy into churning out the Model 3 and Model Y. During this time, it also faced supply issues with battery cells and semiconductors, Bloomberg reported.

Should we take Musk at his word? At this point, it’s like flipping a coin. He could be trying to divert attention from his beef with Twitter, or even be trying to reassure Tesla shareholders that all is well, given that Tesla’s stock is down, and that’s what he’s planning to use to pay for Twitter. Musk made his proclamation about two hours after he tweeted “plot twist!” in response to news stating Twitter was refusing his renewed bid for the company. Tesla shareholders have been increasingly nervous over the billionaire’s drama with Twitter in recent months and fear owning Twitter will distract him from Tesla during an important time.

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PepsiCo certainly seems to believe him, according to a statement the company provided to Gizmodo on Friday morning.

“We can confirm PepsiCo will receive the first electric Tesla Semis December 1, 2022, supporting our Frito-Lay plant in Modesto, California, and our PepsiCo beverages plant in Sacramento,” the company said in an email. “We are looking forward to this next step in our PepsiCo Positive journey and will provide more details once we have taken delivery.”

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For reference, the “PepsiCo Positive journey” refers to the company’s plan to transform its operations for the good of the planet. This includes a goal to achieve net-zero emissions across its supply chain by 2040.

While PepsiCo’s statement does add credibility to Musk’s announcement, at this point, I think we know him well enough to say that we’ll believe it when we see the Semis at PepsiCo.