Tesla to unveil long-hyped 'cyberpunk' electric pickup truck

  22 November 2019    Read: 782
Tesla to unveil long-hyped

Elon Musk has talked for years about building an electric pickup truck that would threaten Detroit’s automakers, and on Thursday he will finally take off the wrapping, the Guardian reports. 

Tesla’s so-called “cybertruck” will debut at an evening event in Los Angeles.

In a tweet on Thursday, Musk referenced his longtime ambition to build “a Tesla supertruck with crazy torque, dynamic air suspension” that “corners like its on rails” (sic).

Analysts expect the Tesla pickup, which Musk has said would combine the performance of a Porsche 911 sports car with the functionality of Ford’s industry-leading F-150 full-size truck, to debut in late 2021 or early 2022 with a starting price of under $50,000.

The vehicle will be the sixth model produced by Tesla, and its first truck. But despite the popularity of its electric vehicles, the company has struggled with profitability and ambitious production targets. Its most recent earnings report proved move hopeful, after the company rebounded from a rocky start to the year.

“Making an electric pickup truck that sells in the same price range as an F-150 and making it profitable will be tough,” said Sam Fiorani, vice-president of global vehicle forecasting at Auto Forecast Solutions.

‘Armored personnel carrier’
The pickup’s introduction will shift Tesla more toward trucks and SUVs, where Detroit’s automakers get most of their profits. Tesla has so far sold mostly Model S and Model 3 sedans, but it also offers the Model X SUV and, starting next year, the Model Y compact SUV.

Musk in October described the Tesla pickup as “closer to an armored personnel carrier from the future”. A Deutsche Bank analyst, Emmanuel Rosner, said such a design carried the risk of not appealing to traditional truck buyers and consigning Tesla’s vehicle to niche status.

Tesla has shown teaser images and Musk promised certain features on Twitter last year, saying the pickup would be similar in size to Ford’s F-150. It will have all-wheel drive with “crazy torque”, a suspension that dynamically adjusts for load and a driving range of up to 500 miles as an option, he said. In March, Musk called it a “cyberpunk truck”.

As Musk pushes to take a bite of Detroit’s profits, Ford and the larger General Motors are gearing up to challenge Tesla more directly with new offerings including the Ford Mustang Mach E electric SUV, as well as electric pickups.

Ford and GM officials often say they understand pickup buyers better than anyone, but they are not taking chances. Both companies plan to invest billions in the development of electric vehicles.

Pickups and SUVs form the heart of the US car market, and making electric versions could help Ford and GM generate the significant electric vehicle sales they will need to meet tougher emission standards and electric vehicle mandates in California and other states. The Trump administration is moving to roll back those standards, but electric trucks are a hedge if California prevails.

Tesla officials declined to comment ahead of the truck’s reveal.


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