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Musk Says Tesla Will Be the 2nd-Largest Semi Brand in America by 2024

The Tesla CEO claimed the company will make 50,000 Semis a year by 2024 — more trucks than Kenworth, Peterbilt, and Volvo Trucks sell in the U.S. each year.

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Photo: Tesla

The first Tesla Semi has been delivered to PepsiCo., but we still don’t know much about the fully-electric big rig. Tesla’s all-electric commercial truck remains unproven, and the company has not shared many details or specs. And yet, Elon Musk has told shareholders he expects the company to build 50,000 Tesla Semis in 2024. That volume would put Tesla ahead of every Class 8 truck manufacturer in the U.S. market except for Freightliner — meaning Tesla would have to rocket to the number-two sales slot in the big-rig market in just over a year after the very first Semi was delivered.

During Tesla’s third quarter earnings call in October, Musk predicted Tesla could build 50,000 Semis in 2024 while discussing the future of the electric big rig EV, as transcribed by Motley Fool:

And we’ll be ramping up Semi production through next year.

As I think everyone knows at this point, it takes about a year to ramp up production. So, we expect to see significant — we’re tentatively aiming for 50,000 units in 2024 for Tesla Semi in North America. And obviously, we’ll expand beyond North America. And these would sell — I don’t want to say the exact prices, but they’re much more than a passenger vehicle.

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Keep in mind that this call came before the delivery of the first Tesla Semi, and that Elon Musk is saying this to investors — despite the countless delays the Semi encountered before the very first example was delivered. 

Image for article titled Musk Says Tesla Will Be the 2nd-Largest Semi Brand in America by 2024
Photo: Veronique Dupont/AFP (Getty Images)
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The bold claim shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone by now — at least, not anyone who pays attention to Musk.

If Tesla plans to build 50,000 Semis in 2024, it’s safe to assume the company anticipates selling all of those trucks. Compare that to recent sales numbers for Class 8 vehicles (a class that encompasses tractor-trailer rigs as well as things like cement trucks and high-capacity dump trucks). The latest sales data shows that in 2019, the biggest sales year for Class 8 trucks in recent history, Freightliner led U.S. sales with just over 100,000 trucks sold. Kenworth and Peterbilt took second and third, respectively, with roughly 42,000 trucks each. International took fourth place with just over 37,000 sales, and Volvo Trucks was fifth with around 25,000.

The commercial truck makers Musk hopes to compete with have been building Class 8 vehicles for decades. And most major customers for these big trucks still don’t know what the Tesla Semi will offer in terms of price, real-world driving range, vehicle weight, and recharging times.

Where was Tesla on the list in 2019? Well, it would have been in some distant place with a total of 0 trucks sold. Fast forward to 2022, and Tesla will have jumped ahead with 1 Tesla Semi sold, and, crucially delivered. Which is why it’s hard to take Musk at his word that Tesla will be building, and thus delivering, 50,000 fully-electric commercial trucks by 2024.

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Image for article titled Musk Says Tesla Will Be the 2nd-Largest Semi Brand in America by 2024
Photo: Veronique Dupont/AFP (Getty Images)