The Tesla Semi was recently spotted near one of the company’s most historic locations — the West Los Angeles Service Center — a site where Elon Musk famously met with early reservation holders of the Tesla Roadster at a time when the company was on the verge of bankruptcy.
According to Mirk_idk, an auto enthusiast on Instagram, he spotted the Tesla Semi just as it was leaving Santa Monica Blvd., the same street as Tesla’s LA Service Center, on May 24 at around 10:30 a.m. local time. The auto enthusiast noted that the Semi appeared to be accompanied by two Model S sedans. There were also two people in the electric long-hauler, one of whom acknowledged him as he snapped a photo of the vehicle.
Just like the Semi’s recent sighting in Sunnyvale, CA, the electric truck was hauling a trailer when it was photographed. Its rear wheels were also equipped with covers that are reminiscent of the Model 3’s Aero Wheels.
The Tesla Semi’s latest appearance is particularly noteworthy, considering that Los Angeles is the location of two important Tesla facilities — the LA Service Center and the Tesla Design Center. The Tesla Design Center, the facility where the Semi and the next-generation Roadster were designed, is just 13 miles away from the site of the recent sighting. The LA Service Center, on the other hand, has a more historical significance to the company.
Back in 2008, Tesla, together with Musk’s private space venture, SpaceX, were feeling the effects of a worsening economy. Both companies were a few steps away from folding, and Elon Musk was exhausting his options. Musk ultimately decided to raise the price of the original Roadster to help the company’s funds. The meeting with some of the Roadster’s reservation holders happened at the LA service center.
Part of the fateful meeting was featured in the documentary Revenge of the Electric Car, which featured Tesla during the development days of the Roadster. Musk later described the meeting as “very tough” and that there was anger from some people in the room.
“I cannot understate the degree of grief that I’ve personally gone through, and that many people in Tesla have gone through to make this work. I wish we didn’t have to waste prices. It sucks. I can’t carry Tesla entirely by myself. I just don’t have the resources do it. We can’t sell cars for less than they cost us to produce,” Musk said during the meeting.
As history would show, of course, Musk would eventually pull off the near-impossible after that meeting, ultimately saving both SpaceX and Tesla from going under. Tesla closed its much-needed financing round on Christmas Eve 2008. According to Musk during a Q&A session at the Paris-Sorbonne University in December 2015, the financing round concluded “on the last hour of the last day when it was possible.”
The Tesla Semi is a Class 8 electric truck that is capable of hauling up to 80,000 pounds of cargo. The vehicle is equipped with four Model 3-derived electric motors and is capable of sprinting from 0-60 mph in 5 seconds without any load. With a full 80,000-pound load, the long-hauler can hit highway speeds in 20 seconds. The Semi is expected to start production in 2019.
As the company prepares to begin the manufacture of the electric trucks, Tesla has started utilizing the vehicles for battery pack deliveries between Gigafactory 1 in Sparks, NV to the Fremont CA facility. Multiple sightings of the trucks in the middle of their transport runs have been reported since then.
The Semi has also been spotted on the site of some of its biggest buyers. Earlier this year, the electric truck was sighted in the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis, MO. It also made an appearance in Dallas, TX, where it was demoed for PepsiCo employees. The black matte Tesla Semi was sighted on the back of a truck at a highway near Des Moines, IA as well, close to the headquarters of Ruan Transportation Management Systems.