Well, it’s finally here. After years of hype, delays, and skepticism, the Tesla Cybertruck is starting to reach customers. But the road hasn’t been smooth. This thing was controversial before it even existed.
See, back in 2019 when it was first unveiled, Tesla CEO Elon Musk hyped it up with his usual bravado. He promised a futuristic, angular beast that would outperform Ford’s bestselling F-150 pickup. But the demo went hilariously wrong when a metal ball shattered the “unbreakable” window glass on stage. Oops.
That blunder fueled even more debate over the Cybertruck’s weird design. I mean, just look at it. The thing is all sharp angles and stainless steel. It resembles an 80s sci-fi prop more than a truck. People made fun of it relentlessly, comparing it to everything from a doorstop to a PS1 video game render.
But say what you will about the design, pre-orders poured in. Over 1 million reservations so far, which is kind of insane when you think about it. Of course, we know not all of those will convert to sales.
Tesla fans get whipped up into a frenzy and impulse pre-orders without always following through. Then again, your average pickup buyer isn’t exactly the target market for this spaceship on wheels anyway. The Cybertruck is aiming for a very particular customer.
Make no mistake, this will be a niche vehicle. It starts at a steep $61,000 for the single motor rear-wheel drive version. The tri-motor all-wheel drive model tops out at around $90,000. Not exactly everyday man pricing.
And that’s before you add the controversial “self-driving” software package for another $10,000 because apparently the truck can drive itself (it can’t really).
But cost may not be the biggest barrier to success.
The Cybertruck is entering production as the economy slows, inflation bites and interest rates rise. High-priced purchases like vehicles are extremely sensitive to such headwinds.
Even hardcore fans may hesitate to drop 60 grand or more during a recession. But Tesla has never really had to deal with an economic downturn before either.
On top of all that, we have the production challenges. Tesla does not have a great track record meeting ambitious manufacturing targets on schedule. And the Cybertruck may be their most ambitious endeavour yet production-wise.
Engineers had to develop a completely new architecture since this beast is built more like an armoured personnel carrier than a conventional truck. The body is an exoskeleton made of ultra hard 30X cold rolled stainless steel.
Musk has compared it to something out of Blade Runner. The problem is translating that vision into mass production without delays or quality issues.
Tesla is building a dedicated new factory just for the Cybertruck in Austin, Texas. But construction faced setbacks thanks to supply chain shortages, regulatory hurdles and even a colony of bats.
The Cybertruck was originally supposed to launch back in 2021. That target obviously came and went. Musk then said 2023 production would begin “hopefully” this summer. Well, summer ended without a Cybertruck in sight.
Most recently, Tesla quietly updated its website to say deliveries will now start in mid-2023. I wouldn’t bet the farm on that either.
Realistically, we’re probably looking at 2024 before the Cybertruck really hits the road en masse. And even then, early models may suffer from quality glitches. That’s just how it goes with brand new vehicle architectures.
But when you step back and look at the big picture, the Cybertruck is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before from an automaker. Love it or hate it, the thing will turn heads. It’s a rolling symbol of Tesla’s ambition to push boundaries and challenge the status quo.
Will it be a runaway hit that steals sales from Ford and GM? Doubtful. As a technology statement and manifesto though, it may succeed even if the volumes are low. The Cybertruck is aiming to prove electric pickups can match or beat gas-powered trucks on performance.
So get ready for the wild ride. Because ready or not, the Cybertruck is finally here…four years later. This steel-bodied oddball is about to hit the streets. And I kind of love that something so weird is now a reality. The future of transportation just got a lot more interesting.