Much has been written about the Tesla Cybertruck since it was first unveiled as a prototype in December 2019. Last week was the launch of the production version and, as expected, media coverage has skyrocketed.
This truck is an evolution of the pickup in many ways. Its bold design, numerous features, interesting solutions, and positioning in the market make it one of this year’s most important revelations. But what is its real impact on Tesla’s sales volume and global markets?
A ‘Crazy’ Vehicle With A Competitive Price
The Cybertruck is arguably Tesla’s most capable vehicle, combining true hypercar acceleration (0-60 mph in 2.6 seconds) with pickup practicality and room for five in the cabin. Thanks to the capabilities of its batteries and software, Tesla has managed to shake up not only major electric vehicle markets, but also the industry in general. The Cybertruck is the confirmation of this trend.
With an entry price of $61,000, the Cybertruck isn’t exactly cheap. The price is a far cry from the $40,000 Musk promised four years ago and is the result of inflation and real-world production challenges. However, this is a competitive base price for a vehicle with these features. The volume-weighted average retail price of electric pickup trucks sold in the US between January and September 2023 was $82,835.
Competition In The US
On the other hand, the cheapest rear-wheel-drive Cybertruck won’t be available until 2025, and it costs $11,000 more than the least expensive Ford F-150 Lightning. The Chevrolet Silverado EV will also have a price tag of several thousand dollars less, so Tesla won’t have the luxury of simply undercutting Detroit brands in a price war.
Things are different at the other end of the pricing scale. The most expensive Cybertruck, officially called the Cyberbeast, has 845 horsepower and can travel up to 320 miles on a single charge. Its price is $99,990, which in this case, works out to be more affordable than its closest rival, the GMC Hummer EV Pickup. While that truck has 1,000 hp, it’s also heavier by over 2,000 pounds and is slower than Cybertruck. The maximum range is a bit better at 381 miles, but the flagship GMC Hummer EV 3X trim starts at $106,945. Rivian is competitive price-wise, but still a bit slower than the Cyberbeast.
As such, the latest Tesla seems competitive compared to its rivals in the United States. Given its performance, capabilities, and price, it could do very well in the US market where pickup trucks rule the roads. Of course, this depends on buyers stepping away from traditional combustion engines to adopt electric power.
Americans are buying EVs. Between January and October 2023, a total of 959,000 new light-duty electric vehicles were sold in the United States. While this is a solid 60 percent increase over the same period in 2022, these vehicles only accounted for 7.4 percent of the total market. Meanwhile, battery electric vehicles were 15 percent of the European total and around 20 percent in China.
US Market Isn’t Kind To Electric Trucks
The electric pickup segment is still fairly unpopular in the States. Their sales represented less than 3 percent of total EVs through October. The F-150 Lightning sold just 16,200 units in its first 10 months, according to JATO Dynamics. While electric vehicles accounted for nearly 9 percent of total SUV sales, electric pickup trucks accounted for 1.2 percent of the segment’s total.
Will the Cybertruck bring attention to electric trucks? I’m sure, yes. However, America’s pickup culture is only as strong as its connection to gasoline. Changing this situation will require a different approach. Consumers in the truck market likely won’t take to electric power as easily as those in other segments, such as SUVs.
For Cybertruck to succeed, it must win in North America. Tesla has created the world’s best-selling car in the Model Y thanks to strong sales around the globe, but the Cybertruck doesn’t have that same global potential. Big pickups are only popular in the United States and Canada.
The author of the article, Felipe Munoz, is an Automotive Industry Specialist at JATO Dynamics.