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Tesla CEO Elon Musk kicks off first Semi truck deliveries

Source image: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/12/01/tesla-ceo-elon-musk-kicks-off-semi-truck-deliveries.html

Tesla CEO Elon Musk kicks off deliveries of the company’s heavy-duty truck, the Semi, at the Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada.

Tesla Inc.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk kicked off deliveries of the company’s first few production Semi trucks on Thursday, speaking on stage at the company’s factory in Sparks, Nevada, with Dan Priestly, the company’s senior manager for Semi truck engineering.

As CNBC previously reported, Tesla set up lines and started production of the Semi outside of Reno this year at the site where it primarily makes the battery cells, drive units, and battery packs that power its cars. Musk and Tesla did not say on Thursday how many Semis it is delivering.

Tesla originally showed off the Semi design in Dec. 2017. Production got delayed by the Covid pandemic and battery cell supply issues, among other things.

During the deliveries kick-off event, Musk briefly alluded to the tumult of the past five years and quipped, “Sorry for the delay.”

He later thanked and the handed the mic to representatives from PepsiCo Frito Lay, which is Tesla’s first customer to receive and use production Semi trucks.

One major difference between Tesla’s Class 8 offering and other heavy-duty trucks is the location of the steering wheel and the driver’s seat. Rather than using the left side (or right side in Europe), Tesla designed the Semi with the steering wheel in the center of the cab with touchscreens positioned on both sides of the driver.

We went inside Tesla's first Gigafactory

While the Tesla Semi was in development, other fully electric heavy-duty trucks launched into the market.

Volvo-owned Renault Trucks and Daimler haveproduced and delivered electric heavy-duty trucks to customers before Tesla Even beleaguered Nikola — whose founder was ousted and convicted of fraud in recent months — started production of a battery electric truck in March.

But Tesla boasts some high-tech features not available elsewhere, including a new, fast-charging system, and a battery with greater range than competitors. The DC fast-charging system delivers up to 1MW, and employs a water-based coolant to ensure it’s safe in delivering that power. Tesla says that the Semi can travel 500 miles on a single charge while fully loaded.

The new fast-charging tech will eventually be installed at Tesla SuperCharging stations and used to power up Cybertrucks, the consumer pickup truck Tesla is planning, Musk revealed. The company plans volume production of the sharp-edged heavy pickup at its new factory in Austin, Texas.

A return to form

The Tesla Semi event may provide relief to fans worried about his commitment to and focus on the electric vehicle business.

Musk has recently taken on new responsibilities as owner and CEO of Twitter, the social media giant, which he acquired in a leveraged buyout for $44 billion in October. He sold some of his considerable Tesla shares to finance that deal. Since taking over Twitter, he has been embroiled in multiple conflicts and controversies around that platorm.

Musk returned to form on Thursday, speaking to Tesla’s environmental mission and the company’s vehicle tech.

Tesla's chief designer on Elon Musk, the Cybertruck and the future of auto design

In the U.S., he said, there are something like 15 million passenger vehicles and around 200,000 heavy duty trucks. “It seems like a small percentage,” he said, but the semi trucks represent a large portion of harmful vehicle emissions because of their size, weight, and the fact they are driven around the clock.

Those emissions can have dastardly health effects on people who live near warehouses, ports, and other roadways with lots of trucking activity.

According to transportation and air quality research by the American Lung Association, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (such as delivery vans, short- and long-haul trucks) represented about 6% of the on-road fleet in the U.S. as of 2020. These vehicles generate an outsized amount of pollution, including 59% of ozone and particle-forming nitrogen oxide emissions, and 26% of the greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.

Musk said that the Semi would not only help combat climate change, but “It’s also quiet, will improve the quality of your air, and will improve the health of people living near freeways.”

The same can be said of other electric, heavy-duty trucks that displace diesel trucks.

Musk and other execs did not discuss Tesla’s driver assistance systems, which are marketed as Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability, at the Semi deliveries event. In 2017, when Musk debuted the Semi, he touted a driverless trucking future.

Nor did they discuss how many trucks they plan to produce in the next year, nor how they will obtain the additional battery cells and raw materials to produce those.

Shares in Elon Musk’s auto business closed flat ahead of the event, at $194.70, and did not move appreciably in after-hours trading.

Watch the full deliveries event here.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/12/01/tesla-ceo-elon-musk-kicks-off-semi-truck-deliveries.html

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Two children and two adults survive after Tesla plunges 250 feet off California cliff

View from the helicopter during a rescue operation after a vehicle carrying two adults and two children went over a cliff in Devil’s Slide, San Mateo county, California, U.S., January 2, 2023, plunging hundreds of feet, according to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, in this still image obtained from social media video.

CHP – Golden Gate Division | Reuters

Two adults and two children were rescued from a Tesla that plunged 250 feet off a cliff Monday morning in San Mateo County, California, officials said. 

The car was traveling southbound on the Pacific Coast Highway when it went over the cliff at Devil’s Slide, south of the Tom Lantos tunnel, and landed near the water’s edge below, the Cal Fire San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit said. 

The car flipped and landed on its wheels in the fall, CAL FIRE/Coastside Fire Incident Commander Brian Pottenger said. Witnesses saw the accident and called 911. 

As crews were lowered down, they were able to see movement in the front seat, through their binoculars, meaning someone was alive.

“We were actually very shocked when we found survivable victims in the vehicle. So, that actually was a really hopeful moment for us,” Pottenger said. 

Fire officials called for helicopters to help hoist the survivors to safety. As they waited, firefighters rappelled to the scene and rescued the two children.

Rescue teams are seen at the scene as a Tesla with four occupants plunged over a cliff on Pacific Coast Highway 1 at Devils Slide on January 2, 2022 in San Mateo County, California, United States.

Tayfun Coskun | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The California Highway Patrol shared video on social media showing helicopters lower first responders to the scene to extricate and rescue two adults inside. 

All four were hospitalized. The San Mateo Sheriff’s Office said the two adults suffered non-life-threatening injuries and the two children were unharmed.

It’s not clear what caused the car to go over the cliff. CHP is handling the investigation. 

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Tesla shares tumble more than 10% following deliveries report

Tesla vehicles are shown at a sales and service center in Vista, California, June 3, 2022.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Shares of Tesla dropped 13% on Tuesday morning, a day after the electric auto maker reported fourth-quarter vehicle production and delivery numbers for 2022.

Deliveries are the closest approximation of sales disclosed by Tesla. The company reported 405,278 total deliveries for the quarter and 1.31 million total deliveries for the year. These numbers represented a record for the Elon Musk-led automaker and growth of 40% in deliveries year over year, but they fell shy of analysts’ expectations.

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Some analysts see a buying opportunity in Tesla for 2023 despite persistent demand pressures

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According to a consensus of analysts’ estimates compiled by FactSet, as of Dec. 31, 2022, Wall Street was expecting Tesla to report around 427,000 deliveries for the final quarter of the year. Estimates updated in December, and included in the FactSet consensus, ranged from 409,000 to 433,000.

Those more recent estimates were in line with a company-compiled consensus distributed by Tesla investor relations Vice President Martin Viecha. 

Some Wall Street analysts think Tesla’s deliveries miss spells trouble for the electric vehicle maker, but others see a buying opportunity for the company in 2023.

Baird analyst Ben Kallo, who recently named Tesla a top pick for 2023, maintained an outperform rating and said he would remain a buyer of the stock ahead of the company’s earnings report, which is scheduled for Jan. 25.

“Q4 deliveries missed consensus but beat our estimates,” he said in a Tuesday note. “Importantly, production increased ~20% q/q which we expect to continue into 2023 as gigafactories in Berlin and Austin continue to ramp.”

Analysts at Goldman Sachs said they consider the delivery report to be an “incremental negative,” and view Tesla as a company that is “well positioned for long-term growth.” Goldman reiterated its buy rating on the stock in a Monday note and said that making vehicles more affordable in a challenging macroeconomic environment will be a “key driver of growth.”

“We believe key debates from here will be on whether vehicle deliveries can reaccelerate, margins and Tesla’s brand,” the analysts said.

Shares of Tesla suffered an extreme yearlong sell-off in 2022, prompting CEO Musk to tell employees in late December not to be “too bothered by stock market craziness.”

Musk has blamed Tesla’s declining share price in part on rising interest rates. But critics point to his rocky $44 billion Twitter takeover as a bigger culprit for the slide.

Morgan Stanley analysts said they think the company’s share price weakness is a “window of opportunity to buy.”

“Between a worsening macro backdrop, record high unaffordability, and increasing competition, there are hurdles for all auto companies to overcome in the year ahead,” they said in a note Tuesday. “However, within this backdrop we believe TSLA has the potential to widen its lead in the EV race, as it leverages its cost and scale advantages to further itself from the competition.”

CNBC’s Lora Kolodny and Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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Tesla makes China boss Tom Zhu its highest-profile executive after Elon Musk

Tom Zhu Xiaotong, Tesla’s current executive in charge of China, speaks as a new Tesla experience store opens on Aug. 18, 2015 in Hangzhou, China.

Visual China Group | Getty Images

Tesla’s China chief Tom Zhu has been promoted to take direct oversight of the electric carmaker’s U.S. assembly plants as well as sales operations in North America and Europe, according to an internal posting of reporting lines reviewed by Reuters.

The Tesla posting showed that Zhu’s title of vice president for Greater China had not changed and that he also retained his responsibilities as Tesla’s most senior executive for sales in the rest of Asia as of Tuesday.

The move makes Zhu the highest-profile executive at Tesla after Chief Executive Elon Musk, with direct oversight for deliveries in all of its major markets and operations of its key production hubs.

The reporting lines for Zhu would keep Tesla’s vehicle design and development — both areas where Musk has been heavily involved — separate while creating an apparent deputy to Musk on the more near-term challenges of managing global sales and output.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Reuters reviewed the organizational chart that had been posted internally by Tesla and confirmed the change with two people who had seen it. They asked not to be named because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

Elon Musk needs to go back to Tesla and have others run Twitter, says Jim Cramer

Zhu and a team of his reports were brought in by Tesla late last year to troubleshoot production issues in the United States, driving an expectation among his colleagues then that he was being groomed for a bigger role.

Zhu’s appointment to a global role comes at a time when Musk has been distracted by his acquisition of Twitter and Tesla analysts and investors have urged action that would deepen the senior executive bench and allow him to focus on Tesla.

Under Zhu, Tesla’s Shanghai plant rebounded strongly from Covid lockdowns in China.

Tesla said on Monday that it had delivered 405,278 vehicles in the fourth quarter, short of Wall Street estimates, according to data compiled by Refinitiv.

The company had delivered 308,600 vehicles in the same period a year earlier.

The Tesla managers reporting to Zhu include: Jason Shawhan, director of manufacturing at the Gigafactory in Texas; Hrushikesh Sagar, senior director of manufacturing at Tesla’s Fremont factory; Joe Ward, vice president in charge of Europe, the Middle East and Africa; and Troy Jones, vice president of North America sales and service, according to the Tesla notice on reporting lines reviewed by Reuters.

Tesla country managers in China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand continued to report to Zhu, the notice showed.

Zhu does not have a direct report at Tesla’s still-ramping Berlin plant, but a person with knowledge of the matter said responsibility for that operation would come with the reporting line for Amsterdam-based Ward. Ward could not be immediately reached for comment.

Zhu, who was born in China but now holds a New Zealand passport, joined Tesla in 2014. Before that he was a project manager at a company established by his MBA classmates at Duke University, advising Chinese contractors working on infrastructure projects in Africa.

During Shanghai’s two-month Covid lockdown, Zhu was among the first batch of employees sleeping in the factory as they sought to keep it running, people who work with him have said.

Zhu, a no-fuss manager who sports a buzz cut, favors Tesla-branded fleece jackets and has lived in a government-subsidized apartment that is a 10-minute drive from the Shanghai Gigafactory. It was not immediately clear whether he would move after his promotion.

He takes charge of Tesla’s main production hubs at a time when the company is readying the launch of Cybertruck and a revamped version of its Model 3 sedan. Tesla has also said it is developing a cheaper electric vehicle but has not provided details on that plan.

When Tesla posted a picture on Twitter last month to celebrate its Austin, Texas, plant hitting a production milestone for its Model Y, Zhu was among hundreds of workers smiling on the factory floor.

Why China is beating the U.S. in electric vehicles

Allan Wang, who was promoted to vice president in charge of sales in China in July, was listed as the legal representative for the operation in registration papers filed with Chinese regulators in a change by the company last month.

Tesla board member James Murdoch said in November the company had recently identified a potential successor to Musk without naming the person. Murdoch did not respond to a request for comment.

Electrek previously reported that Zhu would take responsibility for U.S. sales, delivery and service.

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