Tesla’s Semi-Truck Already Has Two Potential Customers

November 17, 2017, 5:04 PM UTC

Tesla Semi, the new electric heavy-duty truck unveiled Thursday night by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, has at least two companies interested in buying the product, including J.B. Hunt Transport Services.

J.B. Hunt Transport Services announced Friday it placed a reservation to buy “multiple” Tesla semi-trucks. Meijer Inc., the Michigan-based grocery chain, has reserved four Tesla Semi trucks, Bloomberg reported Thursday night. Each reservation requires a $5,000 deposit.

J.B. Hunt says it plans to use the electric Tesla Semis to support operations on the West Coast, a region with increasingly strict emissions regulations. The semi-trucks would be used for J.B. Hunt’s Intermodal and Dedicated Contract Services divisions.

“Reserving Tesla trucks marks an important step in our efforts to implement industry-changing technology,” J.B. Hunt President and CEO John Roberts said in a statement. “We believe electric trucks will be most beneficial on local and dray routes, and we look forward to utilizing this new, sustainable technology.”

To be clear, these are reservations to make an order. And today, there are no trucks actually available for purchase. And while the $5,000 deposits could bring in some cash, it’s really a temporary stop-gap.

Tesla now has to dig into the hard work of building out production of the Tesla Semi. Production will begin in 2019, Musk said Thursday.

Scaling up production is the piece of the business puzzle that Tesla has struggled with before. In October, Tesla reported it produced 260 of its new Model 3 electric cars in the third quarter, of which it delivered 220, dramatically missing Musk’s prediction that the company would produce more than 1,600 cars by September.

The company is deep in what Musk describes as “Model 3 production hell”, a term he has used during earlier ramp-ups of the Model X and Model S.