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Musk Provides Tesla (TSLA) Cybertruck Design Updates

Tesla, Inc.’s (TSLA) colorful CEO Elon Musk has provided updates on the company’s Cybertruck, launched with a splash in 2019, and suggested that it could end up becoming a flop in the market.

On Twitter, Musk’s favorite social media platform, the CEO wrote that the car’s doors would not have handles. Instead, it would simply recognize the owner and open the door. He also said that the Tesla team was planning to retain the same design as the one that was displayed during its 2019 launch. “Just some small tweaks here & there to make it slightly better,” he wrote.

When it was launched, the truck’s unconventional trapezoidal design and yoke, instead of a steering wheel, drew puzzled responses from analysts and Tesla watchers. Toni Sacconaghi, senior technology research analyst at Bernstein, wrote that the cybertruck was “weird … like, really weird.” 

Key Takeaways

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the company’s Cybertruck might turn out to be a failure because of its futuristic design.
  • The all-electric pickup truck was launched with great publicity back in November 2019.
  • It will have to contend with a market that is fast becoming crowded with startups and established car makers.

But the launch event’s highlight was the shattering of a demo Cybertruck’s glass windows by Tesla design leader Franz von Halzhausen with a metal ball. Musk had said the glass windows could withstand bullets from a 9mm handgun.  

As with most Tesla products, however, the public lapped up the truck and immediately submitted the $100 pre-order amounts. Musk, not one to shy away from free publicity, touted the numbers at public events and on Twitter.

But his mood on Thursday was more cautious. He said there is a chance that the all-electric truck may not succeed “because it is so unlike anything else.” He wrote, “Other trucks look like copies of the same thing, but Cybertruck looks like it was made by aliens from the future.” With a starting price of $39,900 for a rear-wheel drive (RWD) model, the truck is slated to start production later this year. 

A Market Dominated by Established Car Makers

According to sales data from Motor Intelligence, pickup trucks constituted 20.1% of total sales of new cars last year. The market for pickup trucks is dominated by established car makers. With a 36.1% share of the overall market, General Motors Company (GM) led the market, and Ford Motor Company (F) was second with a 33.8% market share.

Even as Tesla is gearing up to manufacture its truck, Ford has already raced past it to launch all-electric versions of its pickups. It released an all-electric version of the F-150, its best-selling gasoline-powered truck, earlier this year. General Motors also entered the market with its GMC Hummer EV, slated for delivery in 2023. While it does not feature the unconventional design of Tesla’s vehicle, Ford’s all-electric truck has been well-received by the market. A startup, Rivian, has also entered the all-electric pickup truck fray with the R1T, which delivers a range comparable to Tesla’s Cybertruck and also qualifies for a federal tax credit.   

Given Tesla’s previous problems with releasing products on time and increased competition, the success of its electric truck is far from given. But that is not a source of worry for Musk. “I don’t care,” he wrote on Twitter, referring to a prospect of a failure for the electric truck. “I love it so much even if others don’t.”