There’s been all kinds of discussion about how the Tesla Cybertruck compares to conventional pickup trucks, and whether pickup truck drivers will buy the Cybertruck. There’s also been tons of discussion about other types of vehicles it competes with and a diverse range of reasons someone might want this truly unique vehicle. But I like to do two things: 1) cut through fluff and get down to reality, which in this case means figuring out who will go all the way and purchase a Cybertruck (or more), 2) look at such topics as comprehensively as possible (sooner or later).
It seems that now is a good time to look at the various types of people who might actually buy a Cybertruck and for what reasons.
Robotaxi & RoboXYZ operators — Rahul Sonnad of Tesla made a strong case for why the Cybertruck is the ultimate robotaxi. Short summary: it’s got a ton of cargo space, has seating for 6, is super durable, looks fine even if it does get dings and scratches, is bullet proof (to some degree), has great visibility, is very easy to spot, is a Tesla (many great networking and connectivity benefits). Aside from robotaxi service, the Cybertruck can be used in what I’m calling roboXYZ services — things like package delivery or shuttle services.
Oh yeah, note that if you put $100 in for a preorder now and select the Full Self Driving option, you lock in the $7,000 price for that. The price of Full Self Driving is expected to go up significantly, so locking in that presumably low price for just a $100 preorder deposit seems wise. That’s the core reason I put in $100 and may put in a couple hundred dollars more.
Campers (and will-be campers) — I’m not a camper. I’m not a truck person. But the first reason I became attracted to the Cybertruck is that it looks like the ultimate camping vehicle and made me want to go camping! Being able to sleep in a climate controlled space if preferred (while out enjoying the wilderness otherwise), offering power outlets for certain electrically powered essentials, providing a beautiful view through the abundant glass, featuring Netflix and other home theater options, offering the best powertrain and body for off-road or at least rural use, and having enough space for all kinds of camping and living gear, there is nothing else like it. Plus, this looks cool:
Blue-collar workers of all sorts — Some pickup truck owners who use their trucks for actual blue-collar jobs have indicated they don’t think the Cybertruck is a good replacement for their work trucks. Others have exclaimed that there’s nothing so useful and that they enthusiastically put down a preorder for one or more. It seems to depend on both what a person needs and whether they think the many advantages about the Cybertruck beat downsides that stem from the unique design.
Farmers are probably the most obvious workers in this category. While some have indicated that they don’t think the Cybertruck cuts it for their needs, others have claimed the opposite. Here’s a comment from one CleanTechnica reader who is apparently a farmer: “I ordered the tri-motor Cybertruck with FSD for my small ranch. It far exceeds the capabilities of my Ram 1500. So yes, it can be used as a truck and I will definitely buy it. It will also replace my Subaru Forester that I used whenever a truck wasn’t needed, to save fuel.”
City/suburb SUV & pickup drivers — Naturally (or unnaturally), many people buy a pickup truck or large SUV simply for its looks. Perhaps they use the trucks once in a blue moon, but it’s still important for them to stick to their cult. And whereas pickups and SUVs look like big, macho vehicles to many people, there is nothing so menacing and tough looking as the Cybertruck.
Soccer moms/dads — Similar to the above, the point here is just that there are many parents who shuttle kids from place to place in what seem like usefully large vehicles, but none of them will be able to hold a candlelight to Mr. Cyber. Aside from the 6 seats, there’s the enormous cargo space, the expected durability, and the home theater system.
Techies & sci-fi fanatics — Okay, let’s be frank, there are a lot of people who are into the Cybertruck just because of its sci-fi look and familiarity from many a movie or video game. Yes, for people who are not in that culture, the Cybertruck may look like a shocking ugly duckling, but for Halo gamers, it very well may look like the long-awaited perfect vehicle.
Greenies who want revenge — I’m not sure if this is a big thing, but it’s got to be something. Prius buyers, many of whom have happily switched to Teslas, were the butt of many jokes for years. Tesla drivers occasionally get “ICE’d” by pickup truck drivers at Superchargers, and get rolled with coal. Non-Tesla EV drivers routinely get ICE’d at public charging stations by people who just don’t care about their needs. Some of these greenies are fed up. Having the street’s most intimidating and durable vehicle is quite appealing. No more getting pushed around, bullies, I’m Spider-Man! Will this actually compel some sales? Certainly! Remember, many consumer purchases, and definitely vehicle purchases, are guided heavily by emotions and identity. Related: LOL — Elon’s Tesla Cybertruck Just Turned Manly Man-Trucks Into Princess Wagons.
Hipsters/Millennials/Gen-Zers — CleanTechnica contributor Frugal Moogal explained very well that the Cybertruck appears to appeal to younger generations much more than older generations for various reasons. My limited experience indicates the same. Perhaps it’s for some of the reasons noted above. Perhaps it’s other reasons related to generational change, culture, and inherently rebelling against your elders. Perhaps it’s simply about being open minded. Whatever it is, though, I think Millennials and Gen-Zers are much more likely to find the Cybertruck visually appealing and appealing as an all-around-utilitarian vehicle.
You may notice that the team that designed and developed the CYBRTRK is on the younger side of average human lifespans (see pic below). Perhaps they just decided to design something for their generation rather than for the neighborhood Boomer’s. (Side note: I find it interesting that, barely being a Millennial, I barely got around to putting my order in within one week of the reveal.) Of course, Elon, as a meme lord, is naturally hip with the young hipsters and has the perfect taste for this demographic.
Am I missing any notable groups? Zookeepers? Comic-
The finest in apocalypse protection technology! Flamethrower optional.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 27, 2019
But when it comes down to it …
Above are the various groups of people who might be strongly attracted to the Cybertruck (and Emma Watson), but as I already noted, many vehicle purchases are based on emotions — and aesthetics. Actually, I’ve seen it stated that there’s evidence people primarily choose their vehicles based on how they look. (I haven’t seen the actual research on this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s true, or at least half true or one-third true.) The fact is, as much as we like to think of ourselves as a thoughtful, rational species, we often aren’t. So, when it comes down to it, I think there are a couple of things that will attract or repel buyers.
Primal appeal …
I think I explained this in decent depth and style in “LOL — Elon’s Tesla Cybertruck Just Turned Manly Man-Trucks Into Princess Wagons,” so I won’t go on and on about it here. The general point is that pickup trucks are typically marketed to buyers on how macho they are — how strong, tough, durable, able to drive through rivers, and able to climb mountains they are. Truck commercials are narrated by deep and scruffy voices. Muscular men are featured in the ads. Etc., etc. The Cybertruck takes macho, scruffy, tough, durable, long-lasting, intimidating to another level. Ford F-150s and Chevy Silverados now look like Barbie jeeps covered in nail polish. The Cybertruck is the real deal. It appeals to primal, “fight” (rather than “flight”) instincts. That tugs at the strings of many a consumer, including ones who have spent a few decades absorbing the message of truck commercials. It may also push some buyers away who identify more with non-macho adjectives.
Unusual look …
The unusual look will certainly both attract and repel potential customers. Some people like to stand out, others like to blend in. Some like “weird,” others don’t. Some think it would be awesome to drive something that could be in a sci-fi movie or G.I. Joe, others wouldn’t want to be caught dead in such a vehicle. The unusual look is going to be a major factor in who clicks the “Complete Order” button and who doesn’t — even if those people justify their decisions )in either direction) based on supposedly more important rationales and superior logic.
That said … I’ve got a preorder in and I honestly do not think I’m attracted to the vehicle for any primal reasons and I don’t really like the look of the thing (though, I don’t find it hideous either). My two reasons for putting down a preorder are that I think it’ll make an ideal robotaxi (by far the most important reason) and I think it looks like a ton of fun to go camping with. That’s just a preorder, and the robotaxi thing is a big wild card, but as Rahul described, the actual utility and business potential of the Cybertruck is potentially through the roof.
Hey, where’s the forecast?
Ah, yes, I shouldn’t slip out of here without putting some wild guesses on how many people from each of those groups might go ahead and order a Cybertruck each year. Here’s a shot at that (not “double counting”/double forecasting):
- RoboXYZ: To infinity and beyond! (Honestly, if Tesla rolls out robotaxi services and true Full Self Driving years ahead of the competition, demand should be through the roof. The question will simply be how many vehicles Tesla can produce a year.)
- Campers: 50,000
- Blue-collar workers: 150,000
- Soccer moms/dads: 100,000
- Techies & sci-fi fanatics: 70,000
- Greenies who want revenge: 30,000
- Hipsters/Millennials/Gen-Zers (not counting groups above): 20,000
Comic-(duplicate of certain categories above), Con fanatics Star Wars alumni(duplicate), football and basketball players, police forces, circus entourages, rappers, door-to-door encyclopedia salesmen, people with Zombie phobias: 20,000 (possibly an overestimate, but this thing does make a wicked police vehicle)
- Emma Watson: 1 (first year only, so perhaps 0.2 or 0.1 annually)
That adds up to 440,000 Cybertrucks a year without roboXYZ, or infinity with roboXYZ capability.
— Dubai Policeشرطة دبي (@DubaiPoliceHQ) November 26, 2019
I ain’t even gon cap. Imma get that Tesla truck 😂
— T-Pain (@TPAIN) November 22, 2019
Of course you are.
You're LL Cool J.
— CleanTechnica (@cleantechnica) November 25, 2019
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All photos by Kyle Field (for CleanTechnica) or Tesla