Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk first mentioned a Tesla pickup truck more than two years ago, even before the company launched its heavy-duty Semi. Thursday, in connection with the Los Angeles Auto Show, Tesla will take the wraps off the pickup near the SpaceX plant in Hawthorne, California, at 8:00 p.m. PT.
Details are scarce, although a few drawings have surfaced, about which Tesla has not commented. According to a report at Digital Trends, the company has confirmed that the Tesla pickup will be about the same size as a Ford F-150, Ram 1500 and Chevy Silverado; that is, a full-size pickup with an eight-foot bed.
The pickup is said to be powered by two motors to give it all-wheel-drive capability and is equipped with a self-leveling suspension. The high top speeds associated with electric vehicles are likely to be marketed as torque, which reportedly will be awesome.
The other electric pickup being prepped for U.S. buyers is the Rivian R1T, due to go into production next year, with first deliveries possible by the end of the year. That truck was introduced at last year’s LA Auto Show.
Musk has been calling the new all-electric pickup the Cybertruck, and the stylized logo “CYBRTRK” was registered with the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office earlier this month.
So what’s the market for these vehicles? At first, both the Rivian and Tesla pickups are likely to aim at enthusiasts willing to pay north of $50,000 for a pickup. That’s the price point Musk mentioned he wanted to aim at, but Rivian is likely to be more accurately priced with a base price of $69,000 for the 300 kW version, which sports four motors and a range of more than 230 miles.
While it’s possible to pay $100,000 for a pickup truck, that’s not where a big chunk of the market is. Last year there were nearly 8.5 million cars and light trucks in fleets and more than half (4.84 million) were trucks. More than half of the trucks (2.59 million) were in fleets of 15 or more. It will take pricey all-electric vehicles a long time to crack into that market.
Brian Moody, executive editor for Autotrader, pretty much sums up expectations and questions for Tesla’s Cybertruck:
We will be watching to see how this all-American truck – from a true American brand – will be received by traditional truck buyers. Are they loyal to American made things, or loyal only to the familiar, legacy brands from Detroit? Will electric trucks attract honest truck buyers, who prioritize rugged and reliable capability in a variety of conditions? Or will the new Tesla simply turn EV buyers into truck buyers? A Tesla pickup will force the market to rethink every definition we have for pickup truck performance.