Tesla CEO Elon Musk and US President Joe Biden may not necessarily be close, but the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) appears to have encouraged the electric vehicle maker to finally release one of its most-delayed products today — the Tesla Semi. It’s a bit amusing, but the Tesla Semi does seem like a good fit for the IRA’s incentives.
The Tesla Semi was unveiled in late 2017, and while the EV maker never really stopped testing its prototypes since then, the Class 8 all-electric truck’s actual deliveries were pushed back several times. Part of this was due to Tesla’s battery constraints, which continue to limit the company’s vehicle production across the globe.
Tesla is the world’s most prolific electric vehicle maker, but the company’s existing battery supplies cannot support its planned aggressive ramp in the coming years. And the Tesla Semi, with its massive battery pack, simply seemed like an impractical vehicle to ramp at this stage.
Elon Musk suggested as much in the past, with the CEO explaining that while thadhe Semi uses about five times the battery capacity of Tesla’s regular EVs, it doesn’t really sell for five times as much. But as per a Bloomberg News report, things seemed to have changed when US Senator Joe Manchin and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer revealed that they reached an agreement on legislation that would enact sections of Biden’s climate agenda.
Among these are incentives for electric vehicles. But while the incentives for passenger cars caught a lot of headlines, commercial electric vehicles like the Tesla Semi could qualify for a much more robust and notable incentive — one that could go as high as $40,000 per truck. Despite Elon Musk speaking out against EV incentives, Tesla did end up announcing the first deliveries of the Semi this coming December.
If the qualifying incentives for the Semi were among the reasons behind Tesla’s decision to ramp the vehicle at this stage, then it would suggest that the price of the all-electric Class 8 truck would likely be released at an adjusted price point. The Tesla Semi is already more expensive than its diesel-powered counterparts to begin with, even with its initial listed price of $150,000 to $180,000. But if Tesla ends up raising the vehicle’s price even more, then incentives that go as high as $40,000 would definitely make the Semi more palatable to potential buyers.
Perhaps the most ironic factor in the whole situation involves Musk and Biden’s relationship. The US President has made it clear that he prefers union-based legacy automakers like General Motors as America’s flag-bearers in the EV revolution, so much so that he once named GM CEO Mary Barra as a leader in the electric car transition. Elon Musk, for his part, has also criticized Biden’s tendency to ignore Tesla in the past. But considering the Semi’s potential incentives from the IRA, then perhaps Biden will end up helping Musk and Tesla after all.
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