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Elon Musk Cautions Battery Cell Shortage May Hit Tesla Semi Production

Elon Musk said Tuesday that scaling-up production of the Tesla semi truck could be complicated by a near-term shortage of battery cells.

Tesla Inc.  (TSLA)  founder and CEO Elon Musk cautioned Tuesday that a shortage in battery cell supplies could hamper his company's ability to scale-up production of the Tesla semi truck.

In a Tweet from his verified account on Tuesday, Musk said that while demand for the trucks is "no problem ... but near-term cell supply makes it hard to scale Semi", adding that 'this limitation will be less onerous next year."

Musk hyped the Tesla semi in a memo to employees earlier this year, saying it was time for the clean-energy carmaker to begin the 'volume production' of its new commercial truck. Musk said the company's Nevada factory would likely produce the truck's battery and powertrain, with the remaining work done in other locations around the country.

He told investors on a conference call following Tesla's fourth quarter earnings, however, that while a Tesla semi would use "typically five times the number of cells that car would use", it "would not sell for five times what a car would sell for", adding that cell group constraints were the main reason that the group hadn't scaled-up production of the truck as of yet.

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Tesla shares were marked 2.1% lower in early trading Tuesday to change hands at $598.40 each, a move that would extend the stock's decline from its January 9 peak to around 34%.

The commercial semi truck, which Tesla unveiled in 2017, is slated to price at around $150,000 for the 300-mile model and around $180,000 for the longer 500-mile model.

Analysts at Trefis have estimated sales of the truck -- which differs from the retail cybertruck that was launched late last year -- could reach $2 billion by the end of 2025.