There’s no doubt that Tesla’s electric sedans and SUVs are going mainstream. On Wednesday afternoon, the electric carmaker posted its sixth straight quarter of profits (although slightly missing Wall Street expectations) and closed 2020 with a record delivery of just shy of half a million Model 3, Model Y and Model S vehicles. But for hardcore Tesla fans, all the standard deliveries in the world won’t ease the pain of the ongoing wait for the company’s more eccentric models, including the infamous Cybertruck.
On a call with investors Wednesday night, Tesla CEO Elon Musk discussed the progress of the hyped Cybertruck pickup, which started taking pre-orders over a year ago, as well as Tesla Semi and the possibility of making an electric van.
The good news is that both Cybertruck and Tesla Semi have passed the prototype phase and are ready to enter production. However, each has its own manufacturing constraints that Tesla needs to solve, because like Musk said, “Prototypes are easy. Scaling production is very hard.”
“We’ll soon order the equipment necessary to make the Cybertruck work,” the CEO told investors on Wednesday “We’re actually going to be using even bigger Tesla machines for the rear body of Cybertruck because it’s a bigger vehicle and you’ve got a long truck bed.”
Tesla currently uses a 6,000-ton casting press, which Musk says is the largest in the world, for Model Y production. Cybertruck will require an 8,000-ton press. “I think it’s going to be an incredible vehicle. If we get lucky, we’ll be able to do a few deliveries toward the end of this year, but I expect volume production to be in 2022,” Musk said.
And on Tesla Semi, the main manufacturing challenge hinges on Tesla’s in-house battery pack, known as 4680, which the company revealed in September. A Semi truck will require five times more battery cells than an electric sedan, but “it would not sell for five times what a car would sell for. So, it would not make sense for us to [mass produce] the Semi right now,” Musk said.
“The thing to bear in mind is that there is fundamentally a constraint on battery cell output,” he added. “We could easily go into production with the Semi, but we would not have enough cells built for it right now.”
Musk also teased that Tesla “is definitely going to make an electric van” as soon as battery cells reach volume production, expected in 2022.