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Market analyst says ‘early’ 2023 launch date for the origami-style EV pickup is already blown.
Tesla popped into the Formula SAE competition at Michigan International Speedway with a surprise showing of its Cybertruck pickup prototype this past weekend. It was a typical Elon Musk sort of move to remind Ford and General Motors—both an easy, range anxiety-free 65-75 miles away from the tri-oval track in the small town of Brooklyn, Michigan—that Tesla still owns the electric-vehicle market and will soon challenge their Ford F-150 Lightning and Chevrolet Silverado EV with its own pickup truck.
When Musk unveiled the Cybertruck at a Tesla event in 2019, he had promised it would be available by 2021, but no one who has followed the company for the last dozen or so years would be surprised over constantly blown deadlines. To be fair, Tesla is not blaming any product delays over computer chip shortages. In fact, it has avoided the sort of factory shutdowns that have hurt the “legacy” automakers during the pandemic by supplying its own chips.
At the Tesla Cyber Rodeo in Austin, Texas, on April 10, Musk announced, “we’re going to start manufacturing Cybertruck here next year.”
“Next year” is optimistic at best for the Cybertruck’s arrival. Even if you’re one of the earliest customers to plunk down a cash deposit for the origami-style EV pickup, you won’t see it any earlier than December of 2023, an industry competitive analyst says. That indicates most early deliveries will not happen until 2024.
Meanwhile, Ford has begun producing its F-150 Lightning EV pickup, with first deliveries promised before the end of this year (though the company is no longer taking orders for the 2022 model). Chevy has badged its Silverado EV a 2023 model, with deliveries to begin next year.
While Musk told the adoring Cyber Rodeo audience in Austin that the Cybertruck on the giant video screen behind him is real and not CGI, our source says the CEO has a considerable list of changes he wants made to the truck before it hits the market—a potential excuse that is true to form for the perfectionist-genius-madman. Details of the Rivian R1T at its launch and of other EV truck competitors in the works no doubt had Musk ordering his engineers and designers back to the drawing boards.
While the Cybertruck’s design of flat sheetmetal panels welded or industrial-glued together recalls the assembly plant-friendly corrugated sheetmetal 1947-81 Citroen Type H van, our competitive analyst-source says there are some exterior details that make building the pickup more complicated than its design suggests.
Historically, Tesla’s manufacturing strength has relied on its ability to efficiently build and update the batteries and computer controls, while the company has been on a constant learning curve with its body construction methods, and now it’s promising a “nearly impenetrable” exoskeleton and cold-rolled steel. With all those “legacy” automakers getting into the electric pickup truck business, and with Rivian having learned how to build trucks before it actually started building trucks, why not cut the Cybertruck from the future product lineup?
Because … pride before practicality, particularly when you have all that market cap and no credibility for meeting deadlines. Musk is not about to cut bait on a troublesome project as if Tesla were General Motors or Ford.
“Tesla needs the Cybertruck,” AutoForecast Solutions’ Sam Fiorani explains. “Bringing it to market confirms the company’s ability to develop something beyond a passenger vehicle, especially with Ford, GM, and Stellantis (Ram) offering rival products.”
Are you confident Tesla will deliver its Cybertruck in time to impact what promises to be a big market for all-electric full-size pickups? Please comment below.