I had this article in drafts before Frugal Moogal wrote a piece similarly trying to address “controversy” around the $100 refundable preorder cost for a Tesla Cybertruck and the news of 200,000 preorders. However, I have slightly different framing — despite seemingly agreeing on the same two core points — so I feel compelled to still put this piece out there.
Most importantly, I think people on both sides are putting too much in their opinions of what the figures mean — or at least it reads like that. I don’t often end up the “moderate” who sticks to the middle of an issue, but I think that’s really the place to be on this one.
Take Preorder Numbers with a Grain of Salt
The first thing to emphasize is that the $100 preorders are definitely not reservations, orders, purchases, or even firm commitments that you want the Cybertruck. I’ve heard from someone who put down a reservation with only a “20% chance” of buying it, and someone else with only a “10% chance.” I’m sure there are many others who put down a reservation with an expectation that there’s less than a 50% chance they’ll get the truck. Why? Because:
- it’s only $100
- it’s refundable
- it locks in the current Full Self Driving price.
On the other hand, I’ve seen repeatedly (so many times) that people are saying the Cybertruck is growing on them, and it has certainly grown on me for several reasons, mostly practical ones.
Nonetheless, I think the preorder numbers should be something that we all take a pure grain of salt. I don’t think there should really be any extrapolation here in terms of expected initial orders or annual sales.
… But They Mean Something!
Despite what I just wrote, preorders do mean something. At the very least, they mean that a ton of people are interested in the Cybertruck. You may not be committing anything with a refundable $100 deposit, but you’re showing some level of interest in the vehicle. I don’t presume there are many people who put down $100 despite having no interest in the vehicle or no possibility of getting it. Why would you do that?
And even considering low interest on average, 200,000 preorders show a lot of interest in this vehicle. That alone shuts down the common argument that no one wants this vehicle. That shuts down the argument that it’s “too hideous” or “too unusual.” It is appealing to hundreds of thousands of people.
In fact, it’s strikingly different visuals has probably kept people from preordering who may well get the vehicle. I haven’t preordered, but in the past couple of days I’ve thought about a couple of very serious reasons why I’m attracted to the vehicle. (No, it’s not because it’s such a manly man-vehicle … I think.)
As another anecdote, my much younger sister who lives in NYC, who doesn’t bring up Tesla much with me, asked me, “So what’s the word on this new truck? Should I get one?” I was quite surprised by that. She doesn’t even have a license! As a followup, she wrote, “I honestly like the aesthetic. It’s like a bat-SUV.” She fits quite squarely in the population Frugal Moogal described here, which may end up being the truck’s #1 demographic. I doubt many of those people put down a $100 preorder even though seem to love the truck. It’s not really how that culture rolls, from my experience.
Anyway, getting back on track, while I wouldn’t make any forecasts based on the preorder number, I do think it shows a strong level of public interest in the vehicle. Combine that with the chatter I’ve seen online about it, the fact that I think the insanely wild Cybertrukk needs some time to grow on people, and the passion with which I’ve seen people from all different groups (with different types of vehicles) expressing their love for the official vehicle of Mars, and I increasingly think this thing is going to be a real hit. But we’ll see. We have ~2 years for conjecture and speculation.
Read more Tesla Cybertruck stories.
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