Tesla Semi Chatter Brings Déjà Vu

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Originally published on TeslaMondo.

We’ve been here before. The chatter about Tesla’s move into trucking echoes the chatter from Tesla’s early years almost verbatim. People are asking the same old questions: Where’s the market for this? How can Tesla build this, never mind scale this? How will people use this? How will Tesla service this? Where’s the infrastructure for this? How does the math work for this? What about the physics? Why hasn’t anyone else done this?

And, just like years ago, journalists and stock analysts and industry insiders have their arms folded and their heads a’ waggin’ back and forth. But not quite as much, you may have noticed.

That’s because the world is a different place now. Crazy stuff happens nowadays. Rockets make repeat launches. All-wheel-drive vehicles are more efficient than rear-wheel-drive vehicles. Electric cars are the fastest-accelerating production cars of any stripe. Giant factories are energy-neutral. Davey Inc. is worth more than Goliath Inc. In a kooky world like this, anything is possible, even a hot-selling electric semi.

→ Related: 3 Tesla Unveilings: Model 3 — July, Tesla Semi — Sept, Tesla Pickup — In 18–24 Months (#ElonTweets)

→ Related: Tesla = USA’s Most Valuable Car Company (& Why)

Regarding a Tesla pickup, apparently warming up in the bullpen, here are two observations:

⊕ Tesla referred to this as a “different kind of pickup,” but that doesn’t mean anything. After all, Musk said Model 3 wouldn’t look like other cars, but it looks quite a bit like the Model S. So a “different” pickup might not be radically different. The Roadster, Model S, Model X, and Model 3 are pretty conservative on the outside, despite the totally novel innards, and wisely so.

⊕ By the time a Tesla pickup hits the streets, Tesla will have much more brand equity or, in a nightmare scenario, the girth to withstand a sales disappointment — just barely. This was TeslaMondo’s biggest misgiving about a Tesla pickup in years past. What if Tesla is shunned by this segment and its locker room mentality? The truck market is irrational, emotional, and fickle. It’s steeped in a romantic idea of rugged adventurism. Bluecollar guys with stubble and baseball hats, guys that look out of place in Tesla stores, must somehow leave behind Bob Seger and hay bales and move into a new automotive era. This will test Tesla’s marketing talents. Here’s a free assist from TeslaMondo:

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