Investing

Tesla (TSLA) Delivers First Cybertrucks to a Rousing 'Ho-Hum'

Tesla vehicles
jurvetson / Flickr

Well after U.S. markets closed Thursday, Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) delivered the first handful of its long-awaited Cybertrucks to customers. Tesla stock, which closed trading down 1.66% for the day, dropped another 2.1% in after-hours trading and traded down 1.35% in Friday’s premarket session.

Maybe the company’s announcement that the lowest-priced version of the Cybertruck would cost $60,990 when it becomes available in 2025. That’s 50% higher than the price CEO Elon Musk floated four years ago.

What that buys is a single-motor, rear-wheel drive version with a range of 250 miles. For $79,990, buyers get a dual motor, all-wheel drive version with a range of 340 miles (this is the one that was delivered Thursday and will be the only version available in 2024). The Cyberbeast is a tri-motor, all-wheel drive version with a range of 320 miles for a tidy $99,990. The $7,500 EV credit on the single-motor and dual-motor versions is not included in the price.

Analysts’ reactions

Source: oatawa / iStock via Getty Images

Deliveries for this year are de minimis. Morgan Stanley estimates 50 deliveries in 2023, rising to 30,000 next year and 78,000 in 2025. RBC Capital Markets is not impressed either: “Cybertruck is more of a ‘halo’ product, in our view, to attract consumers to the brand for the mainstream vehicles Model 3 and Model Y.”

The Financial Times notes that the ratio of Cybertruck stories written this year to actual 2023 deliveries is 219-to-1: “The value to Tesla from making weird-looking novelties that people gawp at isn’t solely economic. It’s not economic at all, even at a starting price that’s 56 percent higher than the one announced in 2019.”

Competition

In the U.S. market, Cybertruck’s main challengers are Rivian Automotive Inc. (NASDAQ: RIVN) and Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F). Rivian expects to ship 54,000 units by the end of 2023, most of which will be the company’s R1T electric pickup. A base version of the truck carries a sticker price of $73,000.

Ford’s cheapest F-150 Lightning electric pickup has a base price of $49,995. Through October, Ford has sold 15,972 Lightning trucks in 2023.

General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) has just begun to deliver its Silverado EV (18 delivered year to date), and sales of its Hummer EV are up 55% year over year, but total a mere 1,216 units sold.

Cybertruck preorders

Source: Tesla Inc.

Tesla has received a reported 2.1 million preorders for the Cybertruck. How many of those will actually be filled is up for discussion. Musk has said the vehicle is “insanely difficult” to build. And Tesla is notorious for over-promising and under-delivering on timelines.

Even if Tesla can build 30,000 Cybertrucks next year and 78,000 in 2025, that’s barely 5% of the existing preorders. Of course, not all those preorders will turn into sales, but more than a few percent will. How long will customers be willing to wait for delivery?

At last look, Tesla stock traded down 2.3% in Friday’s premarket session with about 90 minutes to go before the opening bell.

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