The Tesla Cybertruck: something for outer space – or is Elon having a laugh?

The Tesla Cybertruck: something for outer space – or is Elon having a laugh?
Martin Brown

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Martin Brown

November 2019

Elon Musk – is he the greatest showman ever?

For weeks he’s been teasing the faithful Teslerati with details about his new pick-up truck – or Cybertruck – and they have responded with some quite brilliant visualisations of what they thought the Cybertruck would look like.

But…

…well, wow!

Bet they weren’t expecting anything, anything at all like the vehicle that was presented on stage.

It’s a strangely angular machine, looking like a cross between a Delorean and the Louvre building in Paris.

But, of course, that’s exactly the play Musk loves.

The whacky, the extraordinary, the out-of-this-world: and frankly, the Cybertruck wouldn’t look out of place on the moon. Or Mars.

I did also wonder if Elon was taking us all for a ride – his sense of humour is well-known. Such as the model naming of his range of cars. Tesla Model S, 3, X and Y – geddit?

But I suspect, below the gamesmanship, there is a real requirement for this vehicle. The pick-up or truck market in the US is huge – which is where most of the Cybertruck’s sales will be heading.

The market this year is worth US$81,831m according to Statista. It’s difficult to comprehend from our European perspective how important this truck market is. The vehicles are exempt from CO2 emissions rules but widely available to personal buyers who like the rugged image the vehicles portray.

So the market is big, like the vehicles themselves.

And the biggest seller is the Ford F-Series – it’s probably not too far off the mark to say that if the F-Series failed in any way, then so would Ford. And the same goes for most of the car makers involved in this sector.

It’s lucrative. And Tesla needs lucrative to bolster profitability, which has been elusive on many occasions.

So how does Tesla fit in? The US truck market desperately needs decarbonising, and the Cybertruck offers zero emissions and sports car performance (the top model can shift to 60mph in under 3 seconds).

It can also tow 3,400kg, with a 1360kg payload – while the top model has a claimed 6,350kg towing capability.

So it can do the grunty stuff that will be crucial in this sector.

But whereas Tesla led the way in electric passenger cars where it’s had a clean run at the sector, it’s entering the pick-up truck market as another competitor.

Which might go some way to explain those angular looks. Do something different rather than me-too.

But with the Cybertruck’s US debut not slated until late 2021, the Cybertruck will not be the only EV truck strutting its stuff. Ford plans to launch its own F-Series electric truck at the same time; GM will do the same, possibly using the Hummer brand.

And then there’s Rivian. This is a California-based EV producer which has already shown us its proposed EV truck the R1T (pictured). If you’ve not heard of it, don’t worry. But Ford believes in it, and has an equity investment of $500 million and a seat on the main board.

What’s more the RIvian R1T is due…late 2020. Yes, 2020. A full year before all electric rivals.

The Tesla Cybertruck has made a huge splash today – but it might find the going tougher when the conservative US public is asked to pay for it. And the Cybertruck is just one of the many choices available.


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