The long-delayed Tesla Cybertruck will cost more and will have “different” specs than when the all-electric pickup was first announced in 2019, CEO Elon Musk revealed.
Originally set to go on sale in 2021, the Cybertruck now has been pushed back to “hopefully” sometime in 2023, according to the Tesla chief executive. With some sources estimating the carmaker has taken in more than 1 million advance reservations, industry analysts are wondering what delays and higher prices will actually mean for Tesla once the pickup finally does go on sale.
After praising the truck as “one hell of a product,” Musk said he had “a little bit of bad news.” And that starts with the announcement that pricing will go from what was originally laid out when Cybertruck was first revealed — though Tesla isn’t ready to give any new numbers.
Plenty of competition
The original plan was to introduce a single-motor version of the pickup for $39,900, with a peppier dual-motor model at $49,900. The high-performance, three-motor Cybertruck would start at $69,900, Tesla announced nearly three years ago.
Any increase could be problematic considering both the delays in delivering the first Cybertruck and what competitors are coming in at, in terms of pricing.
Had Tesla met its original 2021 timetable it would have beaten to market both the GMC Hummer EV and Rivian R1T. It’s now got to worry about the recent launch of the Ford F-150 Lightning — which offers a base work truck version for $39,974 plus delivery fees. By early next year, Chevrolet will launch its own Silverado EV with a base model coming in around $39,000, as well. And other competition is on the way, both from startups and more established manufacturers, Ram set to launch an EV version of its own full-size pickup in 2024.
Raw material costs pose a major problem
Tesla isn’t the only manufacturer raising EV prices, however. With the cost of raw materials — notably those needed for batteries, such as lithium, cobalt and nickel — soaring this year, the price of the typical electric vehicle has risen faster than for conventional gas-powered models.
Bank of America analyst John Murphy warned in June that such price increases could significantly slow demand for EVs if they don’t begin to level off.
Tesla in June raised the price for all of its products but the Model 3 by 10 percent.
“A lot has changed”
Musk acknowledged “A lot has changed since” Cybertruck was first unveiled, “so the specs and pricing will be different.” Nonetheless, he added, it’s still “gonna be a damn fine machine.”
While the idea of paying more might disappoint some of the Cybertruck reservation holders, the positive news is the electric pickup really will go into production — at least if Musk sticks to his latest pronouncement.
He’s been all over the map since 2019, at several points over the last year leaving analysts to speculate whether Cybertruck actually would make it into production. However, several there have been several reports of the company installing a massive press at its Texas-based gigafactory, which would be needed to handle the Cybertruck stampings.
FSD and Optimus
During his presentation, Musk offered insight into two other Tesla projects. He indicated the $12,000 Full Self-Driving system will be significantly updated, the CEO previously promising it will become a full hands-free system. But it needs to be noted that Musk has made similar forecasts for several years. If anything, Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD systems are now the target of numerous investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration after a series of crashes, some fatal.
But Musk seemed undeterred, declaring once FSD is fully functional and drawing in more buyers it will deliver a big boost to Tesla revenues. It “will really be an amplification of free cash flow.”
The South African-born entrepreneur also updated an audience of fans and investors on the status of Optimus, the company’s humanoid robot. A working version is set to be shown off during Tesla AI Day on Sept. 30.
Optimus, he said, “will be more valuable than the car long term and, in fact, it will turn the whole notion of what’s an economy on its head.”
In terms of the U.S. economy, Musk said he expects to see a recession this year, but one he believes will be “relatively mild.”