The electric Class 8 Semi is expected to be ready in 2019. (Photo: Tesla)

Tesla can produce 100,000 electric Class 8 trucks a year, Musk says

Tesla will produce at least 100,000 of its new Class 8 electric Semis a year within four years, company founder and CEO Elon Musk predicted.

Speaking on the company’s quarterly earnings conference call with analysts a day after his dramatic SpaceX rocket launch, Musk also said Tesla “might be able to exceed the specs that we unveiled last year,” though he did not expand on those comments.

He did, however, stress that “100,000 units a year is a reasonable expectation. Maybe more, but that's the right – roughly the right number, I think.”

In November, Tesla unveiled the electric Class 8 truck, and said prices will start at $150,000 for a model with a 300-mile range, and $180,000 for a 500-mile range.

Tesla's Elon Musk updated analysts on his on-highway vehicles while his SpaceX rocket was sending these images back to Earth. (Photo: SpaceX)

During the conference call, Philippe Jean Houchois of Jefferies International Ltd. inquired whether a surge of energy in slowing down or braking the truck would be too much for a battery to absorb, and whether Tesla was considering using a super capacitor.

Musk responded that “lithium-ion chemistry is so good at this point that capacitors will not be needed.”

Jeffrey B. Straubel, Tesla’s chief technical officer, chimed in that “the power to energy demand on the battery in the heavy truck is actually generally less than in our performance vehicles.”

Musk also said a self-driving Tesla car will attempt a trip to New York from Los Angeles within the next six months. Previously, he said Tesla would complete that test trip in 2017.

Musk reiterated his belief that Lidar is not required to autonomous driving. Lidar, the technology used by numerous firm involved in autonomous driving, is short for light detection and ranging.

Instead, Tesla will rely on cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors. 

“Now perhaps I am wrong,” Musk said. “In which case, I'll look like a fool. But I am quite certain that I am not.”

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