Tesla Cybertruck at Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Kyle Field.

Tesla Cybertruck Arriving! What To Expect

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Tesla Cybertruck deliveries are finally starting! Today is the day. Just about 4 years after the initial unveiling event, the first buyers will get their electric Bladerunner, apocalypse-ready Tesla Cybertrucks. Surprisingly, we still don’t have full final insight into the price range of the truck, or various other matters, but we should find out many key facts and figures today. While we wait in anticipation, below are some things I think we can expect — or discuss — about the Cybertruck. (Note that Jo Borras and I talked about many of these things, and more, for half an hour in the latest episode of EVObsession.)

Deliveries: Reportedly, the Tesla Cybertruck delivery event that Tesla is going to be livestreaming will include the delivery of 10 trucks. That matches quite closely with what Tesla did in the past with the Model S, Model X, Model 3, and Model Y. Additionally, there are rumors that deliveries will also occur today at service and delivery centers around the USA. The volume of those? No clue, but probably not very high — we would have seen a lot more Cybertrucks on semi-truck trailers if a large number of these were getting out there and being prepped for customer delivery. That said, there are Cybertrucks in various Tesla stores around the country, and word on the street is that those are customer vehicles that will soon be delivered to customers. (That’s one explanation for why these display Cybertrucks have been roped off.)

Tesla Cybertruck, Petersen Automotive Museum, by Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

Pricing: Tesla announced very appealing pricing for the Cybertruck when it was unveiled in late 2019, with the lowest price starting just below $40,000. The low pricing was probably the biggest, most notable element of that event — aside from the truck’s unique design, of course. However, several months later (I forget when exactly, but it was a long time ago), Tesla removed pricing from the website. That implies to me that pricing has gone up considerably since the truck was announced. If the low-end version is actually $40,000, I stand by my assumption that it will be a very popular vehicle. But I don’t think it will be close to $40,000 — even as a bare bones base version. I’m expecting something more like $60,000–70,000 as a base price. We will see soon.

Tesla Cybertruck, Petersen Automotive Museum, by Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

Who Will Buy It: The question from Day 1 regarding the Cybertruck is who exactly will buy it — what is the key demographic  of eventual Cybertruck buyers? This is so hard to guess because the Cybertruck is like nothing before it. It’s some kind of unique mix of a DeLorean, Tesla Model X, Hummer, Jeep, Cadillac Escalade, and Ford F-150. That’s certainly interesting, but how many previous buyers of those vehicles (or others) decide it’s time to get a Cybertruck. I have no real clue, but I’ve become more pessimistic on the forecast over time — which has seemingly put my estimate in line with Elon Musk’s: 150,000 a year if things go well. Again, much comes down to cost. If these cost $60,000, $70,000, $80,000+, there’s a much more limited market for them. There’s not the “Tesla stretch” that led to so many Model 3 and Model Y sales. Yes, a lot of pickups and luxury SUVs sell in that range, but I’m not convinced yet that many traditional pickup truck drivers are going to switch to the Cybertruck, or that many luxury SUV drivers will. I expect a ton of Tesla fan enthusiasm as the Cybertruck rolls out, but fewer conversions from reservation to sale than many are expecting. (Disclosure: I had several reservations and have been cancelling them — mine were based on the hope that Tesla FSD would be robotaxi capable by now and I really just made the reservations because Elon Musk said at the time that you’d lock in the FSD price of the day — $6000 — with a reservation. Currently, FSD costs $12,000, and a few months ago it actually cost $15,000.)

When you look at Tesla’s model-by-model sales charts (well, these are informed estimates, since Tesla doesn’t break out Model 3 sales from Model Y sales, or Model S sales from Model X sales), I think it’s unrealistic to assume the Cybertruck reaches Model Y or even Model 3 levels — certainly in the first few years, but probably ever. I expect it could sell more than the X or S, but even that is something that could be debated at length for hours. So, when considering the Cybertruck in the grand scheme of Tesla’s finances, business, and reputation, I don’t think it matters as much as we’ve often been assuming. The Model Y and Model 3 are the queen and king carrying the company. A lower-cost Tesla (Model C? Cybercar?) would be the next model to make such an impact, in my opinion.

Tesla Cybertruck, Petersen Automotive Museum, by Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

Maintenance & Service: Many expect very little maintenance and service necessary on the Cybertruck. I’m not so sure about that. Tesla is trying some big new things with the Cybertruck, and new things tend to little to new issues, bugs, etc. Whether such things pop up for you or you get into an accident (or accidentally shoot the vehicle with something beyond its bulletproof protection), what will service and repairs look like? There could be a big backlog in certain parts, especially as Tesla is trying to ramp up production — something that will very likely take at least a year. I’m concerned service and maintenance may become a problem point for Tesla and its customers. Or not. We’ll see. This is Tesla’s 4th mass production vehicle, and the company has certainly learned how to do things more efficiently and operates a very large service network.

Tesla Cybertruck, Petersen Automotive Museum, by Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

Surprises (Good & Bad): I expect there are some Easter eggs in the truck that will be fun to discover. I expect some performance aspects and capabilities will blow people away. However, I also expect some disappointment in how quickly the stainless steel looks messy, problems on certain vehicles with the panels fitting together nicely, and not as much range on the highway as many had hoped. I don’t think Tesla has made the battery progress by now that it anticipated in 2019.

Courtesy of Tesla via Twitter.

Slow Production Ramp: Based on Elon Musk and team’s comments on the last Tesla conference call, as well as previous ones, I don’t think Tesla is close to high-volume mass production of the Cybertruck. I think deliveries are beginning more because Tesla really needs to start delivering the truck 4 years after its introduction, and with the hope that the company can get through “production hell” with it by the end of next year. I think there are more challenges with the unique aspects of Cybertruck production and design that Elon Musk hadn’t anticipated or thought would be easier to solve. That’s simply par for the course these days, and he implied as much on the last quarterly conference call. Maybe the Cybertruck will be in high-volume mass production at this time in 2024, or even by July 2024, but I wouldn’t put my money on it at the moment.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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