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Starting US$60,990, Tesla's Cybertruck is priced 50% higher than initial estimate

Tan KW
Publish date: Fri, 01 Dec 2023, 08:35 AM
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Tesla's long-delayed Cybertruck will be priced starting at $60,990, over 50% more than what CEO Elon Musk had touted in 2019 and a cost analysts have said will draw select, affluent buyers at least initially.

The truck is made of shiny stainless steel, shaped into flat planes with few if any curves. Musk has said it is partly inspired by a car-turned-submarine in the 1977 James Bond movie "The Spy Who Loved Me."

Cybertruck's 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 say.

Musk 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 gasoline-powered 911 in a short race.

Tesla shares fell 1% 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 showed the 'Cyberbeast' - the highest performance variant - and all-wheel drive versions would be sold for estimated starting prices of about $100,000 and $80,000. These would be available next year.

The rear-wheel drive version with an estimated starting price of about $61,000 would 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."

Seth Goldstein, equity strategist at Morningstar, had said he expected the Cybertruck to be priced from $50,000 to the low-$70,000 range.

DUG OWN GRAVE

Cybertruck, which is two years behind schedule, enters a hot and highly profitable pickup truck market to compete with the likes of Ford's F.N F150 Lightning, Rivian Automotive's RIVN.O R1T and General Motors' GM.N 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 GMC 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 (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 of what he called a "radical" product.

"We dug our own grave with Cybertruck," Musk said last month, warning that it would take a year to 18 months to make the vehicle 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 had left his social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, because of antisemitic comments.

UNIMPRESSIVE RANGE

The Cybertruck has a 6-foot-long, 4-foot-wide (1.83 m by 1.22 m) truck bed, 2,500 pounds (1,134 kg) in payload capacity, 11,000 pounds (4,990 kg) towing capacity, and a 17-inch (43 cm)ground clearance, Musk said.

The longest-range version can drive an estimated 340 miles (547 km), and comes with a "range extender" or extra battery pack that extends its range to 470 miles.

In 2019, Musk had said the truck would be priced at $40,000 and that the highest-end version would be able to travel 500 miles or more on a single charge.

The billionaire 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 "armor glass" window, only to shatter it.

Holzhausen on Thursday lobbed a baseball at the Cybertruck window that bounced off.

A few years ago, Musk had floated the idea that if people did not like the futuristic Cybertruck design, Tesla could "build a normal looking truck." On recent calls and interviews he has emphasized the model's innovation.

"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%-20%, I wouldn't expect the longest range version of the Cybertruck to achieve more than 300 miles on the road," he said, noting that the Chevrolet Silverado EV is capable of exceeding its 450-mile rated range.

 


  - Reuters

 

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