On Thursday night, Elon Musk will appear on stage at the Tesla Design Center in Los Angeles to reveal the product he is most excited about: Tesla's first electric pickup. And while the CEO has teased the truck on and off for six years with increased hype at every turn, it is still not clear what is waiting. Unlike, for example, the Model Y reveal earlier this year, Musk has played this one close to his chest.
Yes, Musk has said that he drew inspiration from Blade Runner in the design of the truck. It's also called (or at least the codename) "Cybertruck", with an appropriate science-fiction-style, vocal-dropped logo to boot. We have a rough idea of some specifications that will be offered. And we know he'll combine Porsche-level performance with tools that make a Ford F-1
Pickup trucks are currently the fastest growing segment in the United States, and they tend to sell at sky-high prices. Even with direct competition from established players (like Ford's upcoming electric F-150) and newcomers (like Rivian), there is a ton of money to be made on pickup trucks. Moving into the market seems like a no-brainer for Tesla, especially as the company is still on the hunt for sustainable profitability.
Of course, nothing is easy when it comes to Tesla. In 2018, Musk said he didn't care if people were turned off by the truck's futuristic design, which is an interesting way to market a vehicle. However, he quickly withdrew and said he could eventually get gas and diesel cars off the road. And in the same interview, Musk also said that Tesla would even consider making a more conventional pickup in the future to meet a broader customer base.
In other words, Musk has proposed as many different ideas for Tesla pickup over the years as Thursday night, at least will provide a much desired clarity. And despite Tesla's track record of missed deadlines and early production problems, the company's electric car technology leadership has ensured that what Musk reveals is destined to be what people benchmark against when evaluating the first electric pickups on the market.
Specifications and price
One thing Musk has given a ballpark for is the starting price of the Cybertruck. In June 2019, the CEO of Tesla said the truck would start at "less than $ 50,000," placing it between the starting price of the Model 3 (currently $ 39,400) and the Model S (currently $ 79,990). It's also about the same price as the long-range version of the Model Y crossover SUV ($ 48,000) to ship in late 2020, though Tesla is finally planning to sell a cheaper, shorter-range model for around $ 39,000.  It must be $ 49,000 starting price max. Preferably less, ”Musk said of the truck earlier this year. “It just can't be prohibitive. It must be something that is reasonable. "
Musk has also said that the base model will be equipped with a dual engine layout (meaning that the four-wheel drive will come standard) and a dynamic suspension that is automatically adjusted based on how much weight the truck has. He also claims that there will be a version of the truck that will reach the range of 400 to 500 miles, which means the more affordable base model could end up at close to 300 miles.
That said, Tesla has been able to squeeze increasing amounts of reach from the battery packs it has already shipped, and it also went out and bought two battery companies this year. It is not inconceivable that the base pickup can offer more than 300 miles when shipped.
One thing to look for on Thursday is whether Tesla will make versions of the truck with larger cabs or wildly different levels of levels.
Typically, Tesla's cars get better performance and range as they become more expensive. But the most expensive models are no larger or really significantly different from the cheaper versions. This is certainly not the case for most pickup trucks, which come in a variety of sizes and are deeply customizable.
The resulting decision tree is part of what makes buyers wind up spending so much more on pickup trucks, according to Jessica Caldwell, CEO of Insight for Edmunds. Tesla doesn't have to copy that playbook to sell trucks, Caldwell says, but it will help swaying customers who might otherwise buy an F-150.
“Even more buyers of truck drivers will want to use this as their daily driver, so they will want all the amenities. They will expect the cool, cool design from Tesla, but will have the things they want in another truck, Caldwell says. “People are willing to spend on this segment to pick up their toys, to support a lifestyle. It's a very expensive segment, and that's where Tesla's sweet place is. "
Musk has tweeted that the truck will have cabinets plus 240V outlet for use of" high power tools in fields all day "with" [n] o generator required. We can also expect to see Autopilot functionality, media streaming from Spotify and Netflix, and other similar software features found on the company's current cars. Whether Tesla will offer an expanded cab version, or other more typical pickup truck equipment, is something to look at on Thursday.
However, the most notable number of Musk has thrown about the Cybertruck was the proposal it will have a towing capacity of 300,000 pounds. It will represent an order of improvement over the towing capacity of most pickup machines on the market.
Even Tesla's slowest vehicles are still quite fast. But blending in anything remotely similar to that kind of capabilities can make Cybertruck something even the most loyal truck buyers stop considering.
Again, we're really in the dark here, but Musk has said that the Cyber Truck will be "a really futuristic-like cyberpunk, Blade Runner pickup. "He called the design" heart-stopping "and said the project is his" personal favorite "of all those Tesla is working on.
"I would expect it to be more curly and elegant than what we see from Detroit, which is the kind of rubbish, face-to-face, big-grille design," said Tyson Jominy, vice president of data and analytics consultancy at JD Power.
"We know it's definitely not going to look like a Silverado," Caldwell says.
Musk has suggested that the truck's design may be too far for mainstream buyers, but Caldwell suggests that the boom in truck sales may have carved out space for a company like Tesla to try something new. She also points out how players like Ford have successfully introduced new ideas into the market that once seemed like non-starters in their own right, like an aluminum body or the smaller EcoBoost engine.
"I think Tesla is in a unique position where they can almost become a pick-up truck because they don't necessarily have to stick to the same formula that people have used before," she says. "I think buyers of pickup trucks are probably more flexible than we give them credit for."
A kind of demonstration
Tesla typically offers rides in the prototype vehicles it debuts at these events. And according to the invitations that were sent out, it is intended that it should be an outdoor part of the event, so it is possible that participants get that chance.
But Musk has touted Tesla's supposed performance capabilities so much in recent years that it is hard to imagine that he will not take the chance to put on some kind of demonstration.
If that is the case, then it makes sense that he would focus on the towing capacity. And if Musk really wants to show how Cybertruck outperforms an F-150, he'll connect the case to something really massive and drag it down the stretch commonly used for test driving in front of SpaceX headquarters. Maybe he wants the truck to tow a Tesla Semi with a trailer full of F-150s. Or maybe he'll mount a Falcon 9 rocket on a large flatbed and drag it a few hundred yards.
However, Thursday night is his first chance to back up all his F-150 tasting with some action. And for its part, Ford has already shown its impending electric F-150 towing a 1 million pound train.
The death of the Tesla pickup makes
Tesla has a wide base of fans, customers and people that fall into both categories. They tend to be an imaginative, collaborative bunch. And as we get closer to the Cybertruck disclosure, they have gone completely to death trying to guess what it looks like.
Just do a Google image search for "Tesla pickup truck" before Thursday night's event, and you'll see what I mean. There has been no ending to them.
This should certainly happen, especially since it is the first truly new design we have seen from Tesla in two years. In some ways, it's been a nice reminder of how much time and effort goes into real car design, because most of these look like half-finished, half-crushed Photoshop attempts.
Expect the unexpected
This is Elon Musk we're talking about. The man who posted a tweet that eventually cost him $ 40 million. The guy who started a tunnel digging company while in traffic. The general rule of thumb with him is that there is always a chance that things go way of the script when he talks in or to the audience.
He could tease another new Tesla product. Or he could give a grand proclamation that Tesla Cybertrucks has been running on the Mars surface for four years. More likely, he wants to talk about some theoretically possible features that sound so obvious to fans and almost impossible for skeptics.
Musk will likely focus some of Thursday's events on how Autopilot will change the pickup experience. The question is how much longer he pushes it. The truck probably won't go into production until at least 2021, but Musk has already claimed that Tesla will have 1 million robot axes on public roads by 2020. If he thinks so, what does he think is possible with a fully autonomous truck, regardless of whether and with is possible in this timeframe?
We do not know where, or really when, the pickup will be built. We don't know how many of them Tesla will build. We don't know what "cyber" in "Cybertruck" means (as if words matter anymore). We also don't know how another new vehicle will stress Tesla's production capacity and customer service, both of which are stretched quite thin at the moment. Most of all, we have no idea how customers will respond to a Tesla pickup, especially if the design is really out there as Musk has said.
But despite its problems, the company has proven an ability to convert buzz to buyers, especially with Model 3. The Cyber Truck is almost a sure bet to become the latest hot item from Tesla, regardless of how it looks, or who pony up the money. And its existence is likely to make car manufacturers rethink how they look at pickup trucks, even if only slightly.
"This is a kind of game," says Jominy. "Tesla essentially attacks the Fortress of Detroit right at the gate."