Daimler Truck CEO, Martin Daum, Critical of Tesla Semi
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Daimler Truck CEO, Martin Daum, Critical of Tesla Semi

  • The Tesla Semi truck cannot compete with Daimler in terms of scale, product portfolio, and service network, said Daimler Trucks CEO Martin Daum.
  • Daum said Daimler sold 15 electric rigs for every Tesla Semi that was sold last year in California.
  • The Semi is still part of PepsiCo and Frito-Lay’s distribution network and potentially moving production to Berlin.

“Elon Musk has wanted to sell tons of electric trucks for years and hasn’t done it,” Daimler Truck’s CEO Martin Daum said in a Bloomberg interview. “You can’t win the war with just one truck,” he continued. “You need hundreds of different types of trucks.” In California, Daimler sold 15 electric rigs for every electric Semi truck that Tesla did in 2023, according to Daum.

In 2023, Daimler Truck delivered 3,443 electric trucks and buses, which was 0.6% of its total sales. Daimler Truck offers about 10 battery-powered semi-truck models. These Daimler models include the Freightliner eM2 and eActros 600, which can travel 311 miles on a single charge and provide tough competition for the Tesla Semi truck. The Volvo VNR Electric, Kenworth T680E, and Peterbilt 579EV are other alternatives to the Tesla Semi.


Despite Daum’s criticisms, the Tesla Semi truck is still a key and influential part of electrified heavy-duty transport. It differs from traditional electrified trucks such as Daimler’s in many ways, explained below.

The Impressive Tesla Big Rig

The Tesla Semi is a fully electric, zero-emissions freight-hauling tractor-trailer truck that beats internal combustion engine semis on all fronts, such as range, economy, operational costs, and performance. The Tesla Semi was released in late 2022, over five years after unveiling a prototype. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, handed over the first Tesla Semis to PepsiCo during a highly publicized event. In early 2023, Tesla announced a $3.6 billion investment in its existing factory near Reno, Nevada, to build more EV battery cells and Semi trucks.

The Tesla Semi is approximately 2.5 times cheaper per mile than a diesel semi-truck. Tesla’s Semi charges up to a 70% level within 30 minutes and consumes less than 2 kWh per mile of battery power. There are two versions of the Tesla Semi: one that provides 300 miles of range and one that delivers an astounding 500 miles of range.

The Tesla Semi truck offers a day cab that allows a shorter and lighter body compared to a traditional sleeper cabin, which leads to lower energy consumption. It features a tri-motor powertrain, and the Tesla Semi’s battery pack is positioned under the cabin floor. The battery pack has an energy storage capacity of 850-1,000 kWh, enough to power ten Tesla Model X vehicles. The Tesla Semi’s powertrain has about 1,500 system horsepower, but the power that goes to the wheels is limited to increase range, creating a lower horsepower. The Class 8 Tesla Semi is the company’s first model with a 1,000-volt operating voltage.


PepsiCo and Frito-Lay Were the First to Acquire the Tesla Semi Truck

As of August 2023, Tesla delivered 36 Semi Class 8 tractors to PepsiCo in Sacramento, California. The Frito-Lay distribution center in Modesto put 15 Tesla Semis on the road and installed its first Tesla 1.5-megawatt Megachargers.

Pepsi’s initial use of 21 Tesla Semis was primarily for short-haul deliveries. Pepsi then dedicated three trucks to long-haul routes, with routes varying between 250 to 450 miles. The installation of Tesla’s 750 kW Megachargers at PepsiCo facilities was completed to recharge the Tesla Semis. The Megachargers enable Tesla Semis to charge at 80% capacity in under 45 minutes. All of Pepsico’s Tesla Semis have a 500-mile range.

Tesla Semi Truck Production May Move to Gigafactory Berlin

Tesla Semi is in low-volume production at a Tesla facility outside Gigafactory Nevada. As of reports in mid-March 2024, Musk mentioned that Tesla is looking to build the Tesla Semi at Gigafactory Berlin.

Musk also attended the reopening of Gigafactory Berlin after it was shut down for over a week following an arson attack and made the comments to the German press during the visit.


The Electric Truck Market Is Growing Quickly in the US

A recent report shows how many electric semi-trucks are on the road. An astounding 10,265 electric trucks hit American roads in 2023, as reported by a new Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) analysis of trucking class 2b-8 fleet announcements.

In 2020, EDF observed 80 electric truck deployments. In 2022, that number jumped to 1,948. When adding the 10,000 deployments in 2023, the number of electric trucks tracked upwards of 12,894 medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks put into service across the United States from 2019 to 2023.



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One Response

  1. Daimler is clearly the established global player in the big rig vehicle market. That being said “Several paradigm shifts about to occur in transportion. But as a little mouse said, “There is always room for a better capitalized mouse trap. Only time will tell who the smarter mouse is?

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