Rivian, Lordstown, Tesla try to shake up pickup market with fresh designs, features


When Tesla CEO Elon Musk presented the Cybertruck in 2019, the pickup’s styling and specifications were shocking. The angular, pyramidlike shape was so extreme that some Tesla fans thought Musk might be playing a prank.

But Tesla has stood by the design, and production is set for late this year. Tesla originally promised that the Cybertruck would be ready for customer deliveries in late 2021. Reservations are believed to be in the hundreds of thousands or even more than 1 million, according to tallies compiled by fans of the EV brand. Tesla has not provided a formal number.

The company has explained that exterior by saying the Cybertruck’s thick, unpainted, cold-rolled steel cannot be easily curved. So the body panels, which form a supportive exoskeleton structure, are flat. The angular top allows for an aerodynamic shape that’s critical for EV efficiency.

Although the Cybertruck has changed since its prototype presentation, likely getting slightly smaller and more expensive, the company said it has not backtracked on its performance promises.

Tesla said its advantages over legacy half-ton pickups include six-passenger seating and a 6.5-foot bed with 100 cubic feet of lockable storage and a 3,500-pound payload capacity. Depending on the trim, the Cybertruck will be able to tow 7,500 to 14,000 pounds, Tesla said.

The automaker has touted range starting at 250 miles and surpassing 500 miles on some versions, with fast charging capability of greater than 250 kilowatts.

The most notable numbers in Musk’s original presentation were the prices: $39,900 plus shipping for the single-motor version with rear-wheel drive, $49,900 for the dual-motor with all-wheel drive and $69,900 for the tri-motor. Musk has since said prices will have to rise because costs have gone up significantly during development.

Musk had suggested in the presentation that the cost of ownership of a Cybertruck would be about half that of a combustion half-ton pickup. That could be compelling for commercial buyers, although analysts can’t imagine the wild Cybertruck proliferating on construction sites.

“Commercial truck buyers are looking for a traditional pickup,” Fiorani said. “Battery-electric pickups can provide a power source for tools, which is very beneficial to many types of work. And the torque offered by electric motors is great for towing and hauling. The Cybertruck, however, will appeal to daily drivers more than commercial truck buyers.”

But Tesla may have a strong hand when it comes to availability, having opened a factory in Texas to build the pickup. Tesla also has strong relationships with battery makers and does some in-house battery production. That makes the Cybertruck the biggest wild card among electric pickups.

“I don’t think there’s 1 million reservation holders,” DeGraff said. “I do think there’s maybe a few hundred thousand firm orders that will translate to sales, especially because Musk has been hyping this truck for what seems like an eternity.”



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