Tesla could build its Semi in Germany

During his visit to the German Tesla plant in Grünheide, CEO Elon Musk said it could "make sense" to bring the production of the electric truck to Germany. He also confirmed that high-volume production in the US will be up and running by the end of the year.

Image: Tesla

The US American manufacturer has only built and delivered a few of its electric trucks. Most of them are thought to be in the Californian fleet of PepsiCo. Tesla started US production of the first units of the Semi in October 2022. During his visit to Germany yesterday, Musk mentioned manufacturing the electric truck in Grünheide. This was reported by the German newspaper Handelsblatt, citing a video recording of Musk’s 20-minute speech. The reason for Musk’s trip to Grünheide was the arson attack on the Tesla plant’s power supply on 5 March, which led to a forced break in production lasting around a week.

Musk told workers there that he believes producing the Semi in Grünheide would “make sense.” The first units have been built in Nevada since 2022, and Musk announced that high volumes would be produced by the end of 2024. The company boss also confirmed that the future Tesla compact electric car will also be manufactured in Germany. Currently, only the Model Y is rolling off the production line in Grünheide. According to Musk, with a daily output of 1,300 vehicles.

But back to the Semi electric truck: Tesla puts its range at 500 miles (around 800 kilometres) but has yet to publish any official information on the payload, battery capacity or power. In the US, the Semi is categorised as a Class 8 truck with a gross vehicle weight of up to 80,000 lbs (around 36.3 tonnes). Electric trucks are allowed to exceed this limit by a further 2,000 lbs, which equates to 37.2 tonnes. Tesla stated some time ago that it had demonstrated the aforementioned 500 miles with an 82,000-lb Semi, implying a full load.

However, the weight of the Semi, which determines the payload, remains a big question mark. As the US American portal Electrek explained in an earlier report, Class 8 trucks can have a tare weight of 12,000 to 25,000 lbs (around 5.4 to 11.3 tonnes), and the payload varies accordingly.

The price of the electric truck also remains unclear. Shortly after the prototype was unveiled in 2017, Tesla stated an “expected base price” of 150,000 dollars for the basic Semi model. At the time, $180,000 was quoted for a longer-range variant and $200,000 for the “Founders Series” version. Since then, Tesla has not commented on its price expectations.

Tesla still wants to expand its German factory

During his visit, the Tesla boss also confirmed the expansion plans for the Tesla plant in Brandenburg. When asked about the expansion of the plant, Musk said, “Absolutely,” adding: “I think it’s a great place.”

Tesla has been facing resistance to the plans to expand its factory. In mid-February, the citizens of Grünheide rejected an expansion of the factory site by a majority vote.

The carmaker wants to build a freight depot, warehouses and a company daycare centre on an additional 170 hectares alongside the existing 300-hectare factory site. The plans were made public in 2022. The referendum focussed on these new areas, but Tesla also wants to expand the plant on the existing factory site. However, the latter was explicitly not put to the vote.

In February, precisely what would happen after the vote was still unclear. According to media reports, the vote is not legally binding. Still, Grünheide’s mayor, Arne Christiani, said that the rejected development plan would no longer be presented to the municipal representatives in its current form. City representatives will again meet on 14 March and 16 May. In addition, the state parliament’s finance committee would have to approve the sale of the land by Brandenburg’s state forestry organisation.

As reported, Tesla wants to double its production capacity in Grünheide from 500,000 units to one million EVs per year and, according to Brandenburg’s Ministry of the Environment, is also planning to “increase battery storage production capacity from the current 50 to 100 gigawatt-hours per year in the future.” The latter also includes the production of battery cells.

handelsblatt.com (Semi truck production, in German), twitter.com (expansion plans)


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