Tesla Semi recall suggests production is still slow

Tesla has issued a new voluntary recall on the Tesla Semi, in the form of a software update to ensure that the side door warning system works properly.

The recall itself isn’t a big deal – it’s just a software update to change how a warning shows on screen – but what it does tell us is a little something about how Tesla Semi production is going.

Tesla issued its first Tesla Semi recall back in March, related to a defective parking brake module supplied by Intellipark systems. Several other truck lines with the same brake module were recalled, so this wasn’t solely a Tesla-specific issue.

That recall covered vehicles produced between November 30 and February 28, a total of 35 vehicles. This roughly matches the 36 vehicles that Tesla’s first customer, PepsiCo and its subsidiary Frito-Lay, were said to be deploying.

Today’s new recall covers 36 vehicles – just one off from the last recall, and exactly matching the previously reported number of deployments.

And according to the recall paperwork this time around, the recall covers trucks produced between November 30 and March 15.

So, that covers 15 more days worth of truck production, and one more truck produced in that time frame.

The recall states that Tesla noticed the software’s violation of FMVSS rules on June 1, and had a fix available which it began to deploy on June 6.

Which leaves us wondering – were trucks produced after March 15 on a newer software version already, and the older trucks just haven’t been updated? Or are there more trucks produced after March 15, which will get the updated software, but for some reason are not covered in the recall notification? Or has Tesla actually just produced zero trucks since March 15?

In any of these cases, it looks like Tesla Semi production is going quite slowly – if it’s going at all.

On Wednesday, we reported on the latest update from Tesla on Semi production, and noted that delivery volume was still a big question. We’ve heard about deliveries to Pepsi and Frito, and have seen various photos and videos of them driving around on public roads, but haven’t heard about deliveries to any other clients.

In this week’s update, Tesla said that volume production likely won’t start until the end of next year, citing battery supply constraints (which we’ve heard before).

But as recently as late 2022, Tesla’s plan was to reach 50,000 trucks per year by 2024, a number that seems quite unlikely given this week’s production update.

Tesla does reportedly have a line capable of producing five Semis per week, and in its last quarterly report, it said that this is the “pilot production” line for Semi, but didn’t specify any numbers for Semi production in its Q1 numbers. From what we can tease out of today’s recall update, it seems that this pilot line may still be operating well under even its pilot capacity.

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