Tesla Cybertruck design stuns: ‘Eccentric,’ ‘eye-popping’ or ‘weird’ ‘piece of junk’?
The Tesla Cybertruck might be from the future, but it’s probably not the future.
That’s the immediate reaction from analysts after Tesla CEO Elon Musk rolled out what can only be described as one of the most stunning reveals in recent automotive history on Thursday night.
Musk debuted the pickup to a chorus of bewilderment, as the vehicle’s triangular shape, atypical truck bed and stainless steel body immediately set it apart from anything else on the market.
With a starting price of $39,900, a top-trim model range of up to 500-plus miles and 0-to-60 acceleration time of less than 2.9 seconds, the Tesla Cybertruck is unlike any other pickup. Its towing capacity ranges up to more than 14,000 pounds, and it boasts payload capacity of up to 3,500 pounds.
Some of the specs immediately came under scrutiny. Musk said the windows were bulletproof, but they shattered onstage when hit with a metal ball during a demonstration.
Musk appeared unphased afterward.
“Nobody *expects* the Cybertruck,” he tweeted about two hours after the event, as stunned watchers reacted on social media.
But will anyone actually buy it when it begins production in late 2021? (Assuming it’s on time, which Tesla products are often not.)
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Analysts immediately concluded that the Cybertruck is more of a niche vehicle than a mass-market model.
It “looks weird … like, really weird,” wrote Sanford Bernstein analyst A.M. (Toni) Sacconaghi, Jr. “Musk had warned investors that Tesla’s pickup would be ‘really futuristic, like cyberpunk Blade Runner,’ and he wasn’t kidding. Add a little bit of dirt, and you could even say it gives off a retro-future vibe a la Mad Max.”
Sacconaghi said the vehicle is “likely to be a niche offering” in the range of 50,000 sales per year, or less. He compared its potential as akin to General Motors’ discontinued Hummer.
“The truck’s ‘artisanal’ cyber styling and excessive specs (range, acceleration), will likely result in a niche product made exclusively for a very conspicuous variant of EV enthusiasts and is unlikely to seriously threaten/disrupt incumbent truck OEMs or may even fall short of broader pickup new entrants,” Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst wrote Friday in a research note, calling it “eccentric.”
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He projected that it would be a “serious challenge” for Tesla to sell 50,000 units of the Tesla Cybertruck annually within two years. By comparison, Ford often sells more than 50,000 of the industry’s best-selling F-series pickup in a single month.
“The Tesla pickup has a steel framework that is impressive and looks more out of a Blade Runner sci-fi movie which will be a hit with the company’s fanatic EV installed base globally as Musk & Co. are clearly thinking way out of the box on this model design,” Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives wrote in a research note.
But “investors will question if this is a mass market pickup going after Ford and GM … or a more niche ‘wow factor’ model that will be more limited in demand/production scale and scope.”
On social media, auto industry journalists and other observers were floored by the atypical nature of the vehicle’s design – and not necessarily in a good way.
But some people are keeping an open mind or have already fallen in love.