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Surprise: Tesla Has a New Vehicle for the Holidays

EV leader Tesla had indicated in January that it would not introduce a new vehicle to the market in 2022.
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It's a change to which Elon Musk hadn't given notice, to either Tesla  (TSLA)  fans or his critics. 

Usually, the CEO of the manufacturer of premium electric vehicles makes thundering statements and promises. When it comes to new products and new vehicles, this translates into an ultra-ambitious launch schedule with deadlines that Tesla and Musk will not meet. 

Take the case of the long-awaited Cybertruck, the Austin company's futuristic pickup. If the mass-produced model resembles the prototype presented nearly three years ago, it would transform the ultra-lucrative and competitive pickup-truck market. 

Musk first unveiled the electric pickup in November 2019 at a promotional event in Los Angeles. There, a demonstration of the vehicle's shatter-proof and purportedly bulletproof window went askew after an aide hurled a metallic ball at the front window and instantly shattered it.

The Cybertruck, like the Roadster, is one of the company's few vehicles outside its main offerings: the Models S (luxury sedan), X (full-size SUV), 3 (consumer sedan), and Y (midsize SUV/crossover). The pickup was to enter production in late 2021 for the dual-motor AWD version, with a single-motor version set to be released in late 2022. 

None of these deadlines has been and will be met. Musk recently indicated that production and first deliveries of the Cybertruck will start in mid-2023.

Tesla Semi Will Be Delivered in 2022, Musk Says

The Cybertruck is one of many examples of Tesla and Musk falling behind on their own schedules and promises. So it makes sense that fans and investors would expect them to miss another deadline.

The serial entrepreneur has just taken everyone by surprise by announcing that Tesla will deliver a new vehicle this year. This new vehicle is the Tesla Semi, which was officially revealed in November 2017. 

"Tesla 500 mile range Semi Truck starts shipping this year," the billionaire said on Twitter on Aug 10. "Cybertruck next year."

The billionaire provided no further details, but the pressure is mounting as the group now has only four months to deliver on this new promise. Consider: Supply chains are still disrupted, semiconductors continue in short supply, and raw-material prices remain sharply elevated. It's a real challenge that Musk sets himself up to meet (or not meet).

If the tech mogul keeps that pledge, the Semi would be Tesla's first new vehicle in more than two years. Indeed, the company has not delivered a new vehicle since the Model Y SUV/crossover, the first units of which were delivered to customers in March 2020.

The announcement comes as a surprise because in January Musk told analysts that Tesla would not deliver or launch any new vehicles in 2022. The Semi and Cybertruck would be produced in 2023, he said, adding that in 2022 Tesla would focus on Optimus, its humanoid robot.

"As the Cybertruck, Semi, Roadster, Optimus, we'll be ready to bring those to production. Hopefully, next year. That is most likely," Musk said on Jan, 26 during the fourth-quarter-earnings call.

A Strong Potential Source of Revenue

The Tesla Semi is a 100% electric truck that was unveiled in fall 2017. The automaker promised to start production in 2019, postponed this deadline to 2021, then 2022 and 2023.

Thanks to its battery capacity of 500 kWh, made up of Tesla's new 4680 cells, its announced consumption is less than 2 kWh/mile, creating a range of 300 to 500 miles depending on the version. 

The base price is $150,000 (300-mile range) and $180,000 (500-mile range).

The Semi has competitors: Nikola Motors  (NKLA)  is developing three semi-truck models: Tre Bev, Tre Fcev and Two Fcev.

The vehicle is already shaping up to be a potential source of strong revenue for Tesla.

When the company launched the Semi in 2017, it asked interested customers to put down a $5,000 deposit, which the manufacturer then increased to $20,000 for the base version. 

This sum is two parts: a $5,000 credit-card payment at the time of reservation on the Tesla website dedicated to the Semi, and then a wire transfer of $15,000 within 10 days of the reservation. 

Those who have reserved more than one unit must make a $20,000 wire transfer for each additional vehicle.

For customers interested in the limited Founders Series version, they must make a deposit of $200,000 -- the total cost of the truck.

The manufacturer has already won orders from many companies, including Walmart  (WMT) , PepsiCo  (PEP)  and UPS  (UPS)