Tesla’s (TSLA.US) electric pickup truck Cybertruck will begin deliveries next week. Price and range will determine the fate of the car.
Zhitong Finance APP has learned that when Tesla (TSLA.US) starts delivering its electric pickup truck Cybertruck to customers next week, it will answer a question that has major implications for the entire auto industry: How much will this car actually cost?
When Musk launched a mid-range version of the Cybertruck in 2019 with a range of more than 300 miles and a price of just $49,900 (just a few hundred dollars less than the average price of the Ford F-150, the best-selling pickup truck in the United States), it had The competitive price is as surprising as this car.
But that was four years ago. Today, Tesla has removed the price from the Cybertruck order page, and Musk has repeatedly warned of cost and manufacturing challenges. It is reported that inflation has increased the average amount of money purchased for a new pickup truck by 28%. Some reservation holders who plan to attend a delivery event at Tesla’s Austin, Texas, factory on November 30 worry that a significant repricing of the Cybertruck could turn it into a toy for the rich.
How much is too expensive?
If Tesla’s intention is for the Cybertruck to more or less catch up to the F-150, the Cybertruck’s price will eventually rise to about $60,000. That price may be the dividing line between whether this car is built for practicality or vanity.
Battery prices have dropped 12% since their launch in 2019, and the price of Tesla’s long-range Model 3 dropped 5%. In July this year, after Ford lowered the starting price of its electric pickup F-150 Lightning to $49,995, Musk said, “It’s a good car, just a little expensive.”
Just three months later, Musk became much more “humble,” telling analysts on an earnings call that the Cybertruck was “digging its own grave,” referring to how difficult it would be to mass-produce the Cybertruck. .
Another key factor for the Cybertruck is battery range, which is especially important for pickup truck owners since hauling heavy items on the highway can easily cut the rated range in half and larger vehicles require longer charging times. After General Motors unveiled a Chevrolet Silverado electric truck that can travel 450 miles on a charge, the Cybertruck’s 300-mile range no longer seems so impressive.
A good metric for comparing pickup trucks is vehicle cost per mile driven. A luxury adventure truck like the Rivian R1T may cost more per mile, but Tesla’s ambitions for the Cybertruck are significantly greater. Tesla says it will have the capacity to produce 250,000 Cybertrucks per year, which is more than ten times the early annual sales of the Rivian R1T and Ford F-150 Lightning. If Tesla wants to sell so many Cybertrucks, the vehicle cost per mile must reach a first-class level in order to attract a wide range of users in the pickup truck market.
At the 2019 launch event, Tesla promised to launch three Cybertruck models. Among them, the high-end version is equipped with three motors, has a cruising range of more than 500 miles, and is priced at US$69,900; the basic rear-wheel drive version has a cruising range of 250 miles and is priced at US$39,900. However, Tesla has only registered vehicle identification numbers for 2024 for dual-motor and triple-motor models. Government documents refer to dual-motor models as standard models and three-motor models as performance models.
Another challenge facing Tesla is its lean manufacturing strategy. Auto giants including General Motors and Ford offer hundreds of different models and trims to suit any customer’s needs. By comparison, Tesla only produces four models – Model 3, Model Y, Model S and Model X. Each model comes with just a few basic customization options, such as wheel size, color and battery performance. Tesla’s thinking is that the cost savings from streamlining production will outweigh the lack of choice.
This one-size-fits-all manufacturing strategy could cause problems with the Cybertruck, because the needs of the pickup’s users — such as construction workers, farmers, outdoor adventurers — don’t always overlap. That’s why most pickup brands offer a variety of options: simple work pickups starting at $40,000, six-wheel cargo pickups with extended beds, and six-wheelers with luxury cabins with back massage and leather seats.
Jessica Caldwell, director of insights at Edmunds, said the Cybertruck would need a very attractive price — similar to or less than the $50,000 starting price of the Ford F-150 Lightning — to have any chance of attracting traditional pickup buyers. Tesla’s first challenge will be to prove that the Cybertruck has the right features and then convince users to ignore the jarring design.
Jessica Caldwell said: “This will be the toughest car Tesla has ever launched. It may sell well at first because it does resonate with some buyers, but it doesn’t resonate with the mass market, which will That’s the problem.”
However, Cybertruck seems to be targeting a niche: people who already own a Tesla. A survey earlier this year showed that of 3,500 Tesla owners who planned to buy a new car in the next two years (many of whom had never owned a pickup truck before), 37% were considering buying a Cybertruck.