Tesla Cybertruck, in Austin, in April 2022 (AFP/SUZANNE CORDEIRO)
Faced with rivals already positioned in this market, Elon Musk wants to regain control with the launch, on Thursday, of Tesla’s first electric pick-up, a futuristic object that stands out in the automotive panorama.
Four years after presenting the first images of his Cybertruck, the businessman will present this inclined vehicle during an event organized at the company’s headquarters in Austin (Texas), at 8pm GMT, which will mark the delivery of the first copy.
The car is intended to be a cross between a model from the film “Blade Runner” (1982) and the “Wet Nellie”, an amphibious vehicle inspired by the Lotus Esprit, seen in “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977), according to Elon Musk .
“This is another historic moment for Tesla and Musk,” according to Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. “This launch is important to fuel the vision of a growing group.”
Often considered a pioneer, the manufacturer is entering an electric pickup market already occupied, notably by rival Rivian, but also by General Motors and Ford.
The latter launched, more than 18 months ago, the F-150 Lightning, an electric version of its best-selling model in the United States.
Very popular with American customers, pickup trucks are cars on which manufacturers achieve some of the highest margins.
If Tesla has not yet communicated a sales price, many, notably CFRA’s Garrett Nelson, cite the value of $50,000 for the base version, a price equivalent to the F-150 Lightning.
The Cybertruck has a range of 400 to 800 km depending on the model and a towing capacity of more than 6 tons.
– “Draw attention” –
For the analyst, this launch presents “a much greater risk” than for the other cars from the Texan manufacturer, even though he recognizes that Elon Musk “managed to calm expectations” after announcing his newborn with fanfare.
Elon Musk presents Tesla’s Cybertruck in Hawthorne (California), in November 2019 (AFP/Frederic J. BROWN)
The businessman estimated in particular that sales of the Cybertruck could be significantly lower than those of other models in the range, due to its atypical appearance, even though the order book has already exceeded one million.
Elon Musk plans to reach production of 250 thousand copies in 2025.
“We dug our grave with the Cybertruck,” joked the billionaire last month.
“The Cybertruck is a special product, one of those that we rarely see and that are very difficult to launch on the market, to sell in quantity, to make prosper”, described the fifty-year-old.
The vehicle body is made of stainless steel plates, used to guarantee its resistance.
“It looks cool, but it is extremely difficult to build,” according to Art Wheaton, a transportation industry expert at Cornell University.
Academics doubt that this Cybertruck will ever generate considerable sales, due to its “divisive” design.
But he sees the promise of a niche product, differentiated enough to enhance the image of the Tesla brand, citing, as an example, the Chevrolet Corvette.
“It’s a way to attract attention,” he says, from its owners, but also from the Texan manufacturer.
For Elon Musk, this is also an opportunity to turn the page after a new controversy in mid-November. The owner of X (formerly Twitter) then broadcast an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory on the platform.
The businessman traveled to Israel earlier this week, where he visited, in the company of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Kibbutz Kfar Aza, attacked on October 7 by fighters from the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas.
“We don’t believe the Tesla brand has been negatively impacted,” Dan Ives told AFP, “but the balance is fragile for Elon, who is walking a tightrope.”