In the truck manufacturing sector, electric truck talk has been rampant for years. Yet 2019 is proving to be rather anticlimactic. For starters, Tesla is not rolling the Semi out on the assembly lines this year as scheduled. The main competitor, Nikola Motor Company, is also showing signs of slowing production. The biggest issue? Having somewhere for customers refuel the hydrogen and recharge the electric semi truck batteries.
Tesla Semi Production Delay
The biggest surprise comes from the most famous all-electric truck, the Tesla Semi. Tesla came out on the scene with what was to be the first Class 8 e-truck to hit the assembly line. Officially production was supposed to be set for 2019, but this has been pushed to 2020. Commercial trucks to fulfill those Tesla Semi reservations from trucking companies and carriers nationwide will be delayed as a result.
According to the manager of the Tesla semi program, Jerome Guillen, the reason is vague. Guillen said, “Next year we will start production. We are very happy, we are driving the trucks extensively with so far, I think, quite amazing success, yes,” as reported by Electrek. Instead, Tesla appears to be refocusing its electric truck energy on a Class 3 truck, akin to the F-150 called the Tesla Pickup truck for the retail market.
Nikola Goes All-Electric
Here is an interesting twist from the biggest competitor of the Tesla Semi. According to Electrek, Nikola Motor Company has gone from offering a hybrid battery-electric semi truck with a fuel cell hydrogen supply to an all-electric battery. The battery-electric only models include the Nikola Two, which is a short-haul truck, and a Nikola Tre.
Keep in mind this does not include the long-range tractor, the Nikola One. Also, the change to offer an electric-only battery-powered truck rather than one that uses hydrogen does change the production date. Teslarati reported back in February 2019 that the company has a three-year production deadline. This means we won’t see a Nikola One, Two, or Tre until 2022 or later.
Slowing the Production
The biggest reason that production is crawling for the electric semi truck is the lack of production facilities. We still don’t know where Tesla is going to manufacturer the Semi, and there remains a stagnant move to build hydrogen fueling and electric charging stations. So even when trucks begin to be produced, customers on the commercial scale will have a difficult time keeping them rolling without this infrastructure in place.