Electric car maker Tesla is starting production of its Semi lorry, chief executive Elon Musk has announced.
Mr Musk confirmed via Twitter that deliveries of the lorry would commence on December 1, with Pepsi the first recipient.
“500 mile range & super fun to drive,” the billionaire said.
The Semi was first unveiled in 2017 when Mr Musk said, tongue in cheek, that it could “transform into a robot, fight aliens and make one hell of a latte” and also claimed it would “blow your mind clear out of your skull and into an alternate dimension”.
On a more serious note, he said at the time that the cost of ownership of the Semi would be 20 per cent less per mile compared with diesel trucks, while also having faster acceleration, better uphill performance and “thermonuclear explosion-proof glass”.
Autopilot and lane-keeping technology would be present, and jackknifing would be “impossible”, Mr Musk said.
The Tesla website states that the Semi accelerates from zero to about 100 kilometres an hour in 20 seconds.
“Three independent motors provide instant torque and unmatched power at any speed so drivers can merge safely and keep pace with traffic,” the company said.
“Accelerate from 0-60 mph in 20 seconds, fully loaded, and maintain highway-level speeds, even up steep grades.
“A central seating position gives the driver better visibility while an all-electric architecture reduces both rollover risk and cabin intrusion in case of an accident.”
When it comes to charging, 70 per cent of the range can be recovered in 30 minutes using Tesla’s Semi Chargers.
Tesla said charging with electricity is about 2.5 times cheaper per mile than refuelling with diesel.
“Operators can see estimated fuel savings of up to $200,000 within their first three years of ownership,” it added.
The lorry is expected to cost $180,000 in the US, although it would qualify for a tax break of up to $40,000 under a US subsidy programme approved by the Senate.
Pepsi had previously said it aims to use the lorries to ship snack foods and beverages between manufacturing and distribution centres, as well as to retailers, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, the Tesla Cybertruck is scheduled to enter production next year.
The futuristic, angular, armoured-looking vehicle was launched in 2019 and Mr Musk said it would sell for $39,900, although that was with a view to production beginning in late 2021.
It has “a nearly impenetrable exoskeleton, every component is designed for superior strength and endurance, from Ultra-Hard 30X Cold-Rolled stainless-steel structural skin, to Tesla armour glass”, according to the Tesla website.
Mr Musk tweeted last month that it would “be waterproof enough to serve briefly as a boat, so it can cross rivers, lakes & even seas that aren’t too choppy”.