Just as Blade Runner’s dystopian future catches up with real life, Elon Musk has produced a Tesla truck that makes the sci-fi film look like prophecy.
The Cybertruck, a pointed wodge of stainless steel, is Tesla’s attempt to gain a foothold in a high margin market. Pick-up truck sales are rising in the US, even among households with nothing to tow and no plans to drive off-road. Multiple electric versions are about to be released. It makes sense for Tesla to pick a design that stands out — even if it has to weather jokes about video games, DeLoreans and triangles to do so.
In the first half of the year, US pickup sales rose 2 per cent to 1.2m. The full year is expected to be the best in more than a decade. It is also the most profitable sector for carmakers due to the huge array of extras that can be added on. The median price for non-business pick-up trucks has increased from around $35,000 to more than $45,000, according to research by JD Power and Associates.
Tesla’s truck costs $39,900 for the basic model. That is more affordable than Amazon-backed Rivian's $69,000 vehicle. And while Rivian expects its trucks to have a range of 400 miles, Tesla is predicting up to 500 miles. But it will struggle to compete with models from General Motors and Ford, maker of the best selling pick-up truck in the US. Tesla shares fell 6 per cent after the vehicle was presented.
Tesla’s stock price is still recovering from Mr Musk’s self-made disasters last year. An unexpected $143m net profit in third-quarter earnings gave the price a boost. But a dip in revenue from $6.8bn last year to $6.3bn means profits came from cost cuts rather than rising sales.
The Cybertruck is unlikely to reverse that trend. The vehicle promises all sorts of cool features — although the less said about the armoured glass broken in a live demonstration the better. Yet it may be too outré to make a dent in the pickup market. Tesla’s sedan stood out because it looked sleek and luxurious. The Cybertruck is neither.
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