The departure of Jerome Guillen, who was overseeing the oft-delayed Tesla Semi program, renews questions about when the electric trucks will be on the road as more than prototypes.

Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) announced Guillen’s departure Monday in a two-sentence filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission: “As of June 3, 2021, Jerome Guillen, president, Tesla Heavy Trucking, of Tesla Inc., departed Tesla. We thank him for his many contributions and wish him well in his future career.”

Guillen, a former Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) executive, joined Tesla in 2010 as Model S program director and was one of the longest-serving Tesla executives. He had overseen Tesla’s vehicle program, supply chain and service infrastructure. 

Early production

In 2018, Guillen was promoted to president of automotive in charge of “all automotive operations and program management,” reporting directly to Elon Musk. In that role, Guillen was considered No. 2 to Musk on the automotive side of the Tesla business, according to Electrek, a website that covers Tesla extensively.

Guillen became the president of heavy trucking in March. Electrek reported that Guillen wanted to stay in Nevada, where a Tesla Gigafactory is located in Sparks. 

He was overseeing early Semi production, including an order of 15 Semis for Pepsico’s Frito-Lay plant in Modesto, California. Those units are part of an order of 100 Tesla Semis Pepsico (NASDAQ: PEP) placed for 100 Semis in December 2017.

Tesla unveiled the Semi in September 2017 and initially said it would go into production in 2019. It has been delayed several times. Musk flashes hot and cold about the Semi, most recently saying it is still in development. The Semi uses five times as many batteries as a Tesla passenger vehicle, and battery capacity is an issue at the company.

Tesla’s first mover advantage in electric trucks is rapidly vanishing as legacy truck manufacturers Daimler, Volvo, Kenworth and Peterbilt all are taking orders for heavy-duty electric trucks. Daimler, Volvo and Peterbilt have several dozen electric trucks in customer hands for evaluation. 

Startup Nikola Corp. (NASDAQ: NKLA) expects to begin production of its battery-electric Class 8 Tre model in the fourth quarter. Imported parts kits from joint venture manufacturing partner Iveco will be assembled at a new plant under construction in Coolidge, Arizona.

Related articles:

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Analysts: Tesla Semi a ‘distraction’

Elon Musk: Tesla Semi may hit 621 miles of range

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.