Starting at R1.1m, Tesla Cybertruck is priced 50% higher than expected
Analysts say the Cybertruck will draw select, affluent buyers
Tesla’s long-delayed Cybertruck will be priced starting at $60,990 (R1.1m), more than 50% more than what CEO Elon Musk touted in 2019, and cost analysts have said it will draw select, affluent buyers.
The truck, made of 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 pickup truck buyers who focus on utility, experts said.
But Musk, who has priced the vehicle’s three variants between $60,990 and $99,990, 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 truck’s design, showing a video of the Cybertruck towing a Porsche 911 and beating another petrol-powered 911 in a short race.
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.
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 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 told Reuters before the event the Cybertruck would do well with a smaller audience.
Cybertruck, two years behind schedule, enters a hot pickup truck market to compete with the likes of Ford’s F150 Lightning, Rivian Automotive’s R1T and General Motors’ Hummer EV.
Rivian’s R1T has a starting price of $73,000, while the F-150 Lightning starts at about $50,000. The larger and more powerful Hummer EV pickup costs more than $96,000.
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 electric vehicle 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 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 anti-Semitic comments.
On Thursday he said about the truck: “It’s basically an incredibly useful truck. It’s not just some grandstanding showpiece like me.”
The Cybertruck’s longest-range version can drive an estimated 547km and comes with a “range extender” or extra battery pack that extends its range to 756km.
In 2019 Musk had said the truck would be able to travel 804km or more on a single charge.
“As a truck the Ford and Chevy are more useful and certainly easier to see out of,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal research analyst at Guidehouse Insights.
“Given that Teslas almost always fall short of (range) estimates in real-world driving by anywhere from 10% to 20%, I wouldn’t expect the longest-range version of the Cybertruck to achieve more than 482km on the road,” he said, noting the Chevrolet Silverado EV is capable of exceeding its 724km rated range.
Musk has said Tesla was likely to reach a production rate of roughly 250,000 Cybertrucks a year in 2025. He did not update that on Thursday.
During its 2019 reveal, Tesla’s chief designer Franz von Holzhausen took a metal ball to demonstrate the truck’s unbreakable “armour glass” window, only to shatter it.
Holzhausen on Thursday lobbed a baseball at the Cybertruck window that bounced off.
Correction: December 5 2023
An earlier version of this story said the Cybertruck would cost R1.1bn, whereas the correct figure is R1.1m.
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