Tesla’s long-delayed Cybertruck will be priced starting at US$60 990 (about R1.2-million), over 50% more than what CEO Elon Musk had touted in 2019 and a cost analysts have said will draw select, affluent buyers.
The bakkie, made of shiny stainless steel and shaped into flat planes, is partly inspired by a car-turned-submarine in the 1977 James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me, Musk has said.
Its new body material and unconventional, futuristic styling has added complexity and costs to production, and threatens to alienate traditional buyers of bakkies who focus on utility, experts say.
But Musk, who has priced the vehicle’s three variants between $60 990 and $99 990 (R1.9-million), said on Thursday the Cybertruck has “more utility than a truck” and is “faster than a sports car”.
He drove a Cybertruck onto a stage to cheers from the crowd and later handed over vehicles to about a dozen customers at an event in Austin, Texas.
“Finally, the future will look like the future,” he said about the vehicle’s design, showing a video of the Cybertruck towing a Porsche 911 and beating another petrol-powered 911 in a short race.
Tesla shares fell 2% in extended trading after closing off 1.6% at $240.08.
Musk did not announce the vehicle’s prices at the event, but Tesla’s website listed the prices. Its highest performance variant, the Cyberbeast, will be available next year, as will the all-wheel drive trim that starts at an estimated $80 000.
Cybertruck starting price
The cheapest rear-wheel drive version with an estimated starting price of about $61 000, will be available in 2025.
“This is going to appeal to … definitely a wealthier clientele that can afford the price point and they want something that is unique and quirky,” said Jessica Caldwell, head of insights at auto research firm Edmunds. “That just isn’t a large segment of the population that can afford that, especially where interest rates are.”
After Musk estimated in 2019 that the Cybertruck would sell for $40 000, the vehicle drew more than a million reservation holders who put down $100 deposits. He had not offered an updated price before Monday, despite rising raw material costs for EVs.
New deposits are $250, Musk said on Thursday.
The price is not a surprise to many, said Paul Waatti, an analyst at consultancy AutoPacific. Waatti said before the event that the Cybertruck would do well with a smaller audience.
Cybertruck, two years behind schedule, enters a hot bakkie segment to compete with the likes of Ford’s F150 Lightning, Rivian Automotive’s R1T and General Motors’ Hummer EV.
The Cybertruck, Tesla’s first new model in nearly four years, is critical to its reputation as a maker of innovative vehicles. At a time when the company is battling softening EV demand and rising competition, Cybertruck is also key for generating sales, though not to the extent of the company’s high-volume Models 3 and Y.
Musk tempered investor expectations about the product last month, citing problems in ramping production and warning that it would take a year to 18 months to make it a significant cash-flow contributor.
Ahead of the launch, Musk captured media attention on a different subject, giving a profanity-laced interview to the New York Times on Wednesday. He cursed advertisers who left his social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, because of antisemitic comments. On Thursday, he said about the Cybertruck: “It’s basically an incredibly useful truck. It’s not just some grandstanding showpiece like me.”
During its 2019 reveal, Tesla’s chief designer Franz von Holzhausen took a metal ball to demonstrate the truck’s unbreakable “armor glass” window, only to shatter it. Holzhausen on Thursday lobbed a baseball at the Cybertruck window that bounced off. — Akash Sriram, Hyunjoo Jin and Abhirup Roy, (c) 2023 Reuters