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Musk delays Tesla Semi unveil to focus on Model 3, Puerto Rico

Musk delays Tesla Semi unveil to focus on Model 3, Puerto Rico


Supplying power to devastated regions comes as new car faces production problems

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Tesla admittedly went into fall with a lot on the to-do list, but CEO Elon Musk, who also runs SpaceX and SolarCity, may be rearranging plans in order to keep everything in order. Musk tweeted Friday the Tesla Semi truck unveiling, once planned for October 26th, would now take place November 16th.

The Semi timing was shuffled, Musk said, in part to get production of the Tesla Model 3 back on schedule. Last week, the company admitted “production bottlenecks” meant only 260 Model 3s had been built so far, off of the 1,500 target. However, there’s also another reason — Musk may be gearing up to have Tesla help Puerto Rico, still devastated by Hurricane Maria, restore power to the island:

“It is important to emphasize that there are no fundamental issues with the Model 3 production or supply chain,” Tesla said in a statement earlier this week. “We understand what needs to be fixed and we are confident of addressing the manufacturing bottleneck issues in the near-term.”

Minutes before the Tesla Semi announcement, the Wall Street Journal on Friday afternoon reported some Model 3 body panels were still being shaped by hand last month, as the vehicle’s production line was still not ready to produce the targeted number of vehicles. In statements to investors, Musk has been adamant about getting the quality of the Model 3 right at launch, learning from the complex and troubled Model X launch in 2015.

In a subsequent tweet Friday, Musk admitted no problems with the Semi project, despite its unveiling being pushed from September to October, and now, to November.

After Musk tweeted he was willing to help rebuild Puerto Rico’s devastated power grid with solar energy, the island’s governor replied, “Let’s talk.” While Musk’s comments seemed vague this morning, his later statements may indicate there are bigger plans for hurricane-affected areas, similar to the company’s current initiative to use Tesla’s battery-making capabilities to Australia with its power grid. But for Tesla, getting the Model 3 out to reservation holders soon is a must. That may mean the Semi may have to wait.