WASHINGTON: Tesla said Friday it was delaying the planned launch of its electric transport truck, diverting resources to step up production of its Model 3 sedan and to produce batteries for storm-ravaged Puerto Rico.
The electric carmaker’s chief executive Elon Musk announced the news on Twitter, pushing back the launch of its semi-truck which had been set to be unveiled October 26 in California.
The news comes after a slower-than-expected debut for Tesla’s Model 3, the $35,000 sedan — half the price of earlier models — which aims to bring electric vehicles to a broader market.
The company said earlier this week it had received some 450,000 pre-orders for the Model 3 but that production has been hobbled by a bottleneck in “manufacturing subsystems.”
“Tesla Semi unveil now Nov 16,” Musk tweeted Friday.
“Diverting resources to fix Model 3 bottlenecks & increase battery production for Puerto Rico & other affected areas.”
In a series of exchanges on Twitter Thursday and Friday, Musk said the company could help restore electricity to Puerto Rico — whose power system was decimated by Hurricane Maria — by using solar panels and batteries.
Responding to a tweet asking if Tesla could help, Musk answered: “The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too.”
Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosello joined the conversation, tweeting to Musk: “Let’s talk. Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your #TeslaTechnologies? PR could be that flagship project.”
Musk then responded: “I would be happy to talk. Hopefully, Tesla can be helpful.”
Tesla and Musk have for years been seeking to push the auto industry to electric to reduce the use of fossil fuels, and more recently have introduced residential and commercial solar batteries which can operate off the electric power grid.