Automotive

Tesla Semi in short supply for PepsiCo; other customers use competing EV trucks

Tesla Semi in short supply for PepsiCo; other customers use competing EV trucks

 

  NEW YORK — Key Tesla customer PepsiCo made initial payments for 100 Tesla Semis in 2017, intending to use the electric-truck fleet to haul its Cheetos, Lays potato chips and Pepsi soda pop to retailers. 

  But according to the food-and-drinks maker and one of its executives with knowledge of the deal, PepsiCo was using only 36 of Tesla’s promised 100 electric trucks as of this month. 

  The shortfall, which hasn’t been previously disclosed, lays bare the challenges for Tesla as it seeks to become a high-volume player in the truck-manufacturing business. Other would-be Tesla customers including food distributor Sysco, UPS and Walmart Canada continue to wait for Tesla Semi trucks and are turning to rival electric-truck makers. 

  The struggles of shipping enough Semis come at a bad time for Tesla, which has seen growth for its consumer electric vehicles slow, forcing it to cut prices and hurt margins. In addition, Reuters reported this month that Tesla had decided to cancel its long-promised inexpensive car that investors had hoped would drive further growth. 

  Diesel-powered 18-wheelers are a major source of pollution. As companies pledge to slash their greenhouse gas emissions, the proposition for Tesla is clear. 

  “People might wonder why build a semi truck?” Musk said at the carmaker’s gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada, in late 2022, when Tesla delivered the Semis to PepsiCo. “It’s 20% of U.S. vehicle emissions.” 

  Under the Biden administration, companies using electric trucks qualify for large subsidies to offset their purchases. PepsiCo secured over $20 million in government grants to cover the cost of 32 of the Semis, plus federal subsidies of $40,000 per vehicle. 

  Tesla, which will report quarterly results on Tuesday, did not return a request for comment. 

  A PepsiCo spokesperson said in a statement that the company’s plans for the Semis can shift when technology and the need to establish infrastructure is involved. 

  The soda and snack producer was the first of Corporate America to take delivery of any of Tesla’s highly-anticipated Semi trucks. “The 100 (Tesla Semis) we have a deposit on, we’ll get those out in ‘23 for sure,” Mike O’Connell, PepsiCo’s vice president of supply chain, told Reuters at the time. 

  But, as of this month, PepsiCo was “focused on best leveraging the 36 (Tesla Semi) vehicles that are currently in our fleet,” a spokesperson told Reuters in early April….

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