Tesla’s long-delayed Cybertruck will be priced at $60,990, over 50% more than CEO Elon Musk had touted in 2019, and cost analysts have said it will only draw select, affluent buyers. Experts say that the futuristic bakkie enters a hot market segment but will need to compete with more valuable and mainstream models from Ford, Chevrolet, and Rivian Automotive. Its new body material and unconventional, futuristic styling have added complexity and costs to production and threaten to alienate traditional buyers of bakkies who focus on utility, they say.
At a Cybertruck Delivery Event on Thursday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk handed over keys to the first customers to receive the Blade Runner-esque truck. During the event, he drove onto the stage in one of the vehicles and then displayed a video showing it towing a Porsche 911 and beating another gasoline-powered 911 in a race.
The cheapest Cybertruck will be the single-motor rear-wheel drive model that Musk originally floated in 2021 for $39,900, the same as the entry-level Model 3. The company will also sell a higher-performance Cybertruck called the “Cyberbeast” for an estimated $79,000 and an all-wheel drive version for $99,900, per the product pages on its website. Both will be available in 2025.
Amid Tesla’s recent woes, including a slowdown in demand for its flagship Model 3 sedan, the Cybertruck is a crucial vehicle to generate new sales and restore confidence in its ability to deliver high-volume models. But even at its discounted starting price, the truck will need help attracting enough buyers to make a dent in the billions of dollars in debt it has accrued.
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Musk has sought to bolster confidence in the brand by emphasizing that the Cybertruck is an innovative and practical vehicle, not simply a concept car. He compared it to the X-Men jet-pack, which was initially developed to be used as a weapon but became a versatile and popular piece of technology.
Unlike the X-Men jet pack, built on an existing vehicle platform and underwent extensive testing to prove its capabilities, the Cybertruck is designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle with motors and battery packs. Musk has said that should help cut development and manufacturing costs.
The Cybertruck, made of shiny stainless steel shaped into flat planes, is partly inspired by a car-turned-submarine in the 1977 James Bond movie “The Spy Who Loved Me,” he has said. In the film, a modified Lotus Esprit named Wet Nellie was used as the submarine car. Doug Redenius, a co-founder of the Ian Fleming Foundation, who authenticated one of the cars used in the movie, says eight were used for underwater shots, but only this one survived.
The Cybertruck’s unusual design has added complexity and costs to production. At the same time, its gimmicky features and a lack of a traditional dashboard have made it harder to engineer safety and comfort features that have become standard on most vehicles. Analysts have predicted it will sell fewer than a million units over the model’s life, well short of the one million goal set by Musk in 2020.