Cybertruck invite mixed reactions, as Tesla share price down 2%

Cybertruck invite mixed reactions

Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed the company’s long-awaited Cybertruck, a futuristic electric pickup truck, at a live event in Austin, Texas, on Thursday night.

The Cybertruck, which Musk claimed would be “the biggest product launch of anything by far on Earth this year”, drew mixed reactions from fans and analysts, as well as a drop in Tesla’s share price on Friday.

A better truck than a truck

Musk, who had previously teased the Cybertruck as a “cyberpunk” vehicle inspired by the movie Blade Runner, said the truck was designed to be more durable, versatile and powerful than conventional trucks. He said the Cybertruck’s hard steel body was bulletproof, and that its windows were “rock proof”. He demonstrated the truck’s strength by hitting it with a sledgehammer and throwing a metal ball at the windows, which cracked but did not shatter.

He also touted the truck’s performance, saying it could tow over 11,000 pounds, accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.6 seconds and features a “super-tough” composite bed that is six feet long and four feet wide. He added that the vehicle would “change the look of the roads” and that the “future finally looks like the future.”

The Cybertruck, which has a sharp-edged and angular design, comes in three variants: a rear-wheel drive base model, an all-wheel drive model and a “Cyberbeast” model.

The base model is expected to have a 250 mile range battery and accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 6.5 seconds, and the all-wheel drive model is expected to have a range of 340 miles and go 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.1 seconds with a top speed of 112 miles per hour.

The highest-end Cyberbeast would have the fastest acceleration and a range of 320 miles, estimated, with a top speed of 130 miles per hour.

A steep price tag and a long wait

Musk did not directly mention the pricing and battery range for the Cybertruck during the event, but Tesla’s website later revealed that the rear-wheel drive base model for the Cybertruck is now priced some 50% higher than the $40,000 the company originally aimed for before any tax breaks or other incentives.

According to Tesla’s website, the company will sell its base model rear-wheel drive version of the Cybertruck for an estimated $60,990 and a “Cyberbeast” version for $99,990, with the all-wheel drive version priced at $79,900. Deliveries to customers will start for the all-wheel drive version and Cyberbeast in 2024, the site says, and for the base model in 2025.

Tesla shares (TSLA.O) fell about 2% on Friday after the highly anticipated launch of its Cybertruck left analysts concerned about the electric vehicle’s steep price tag and a longer wait for significant financial payoff.

According to Reuters: “Cybertruck does not significantly move the financial needle for Tesla in FY24..,” Wedbush said in a note, while Bernstein analysts forecast 250 deliveries this year and 75,000 for next year, saying both “may be ambitious”.

Musk has said Tesla was likely to reach a production rate of roughly 250,000 Cybertrucks a year in 2025.

The company has repeatedly warned that it would face significant challenges in ramping the product and becoming free cash flow positive – likely not until mid-2025 – which could negatively impact profitability.

The Cybertruck, Tesla’s first new model in nearly four years, is critical to its reputation as a maker of innovative vehicles, especially at a time when the company is battling softening electric-vehicle demand and rising competition. At $235.45, Tesla was set to lose about $15 billion in market valuation on Friday.

It is currently trading at about 65 times its 12-month forward earnings estimates, according to LSEG data. The stock has nearly doubled this year, after having fallen more than 65% in 2022.

A hot pickup truck market

The 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.

The pickup truck segment is one of the most profitable and popular in the US, accounting for about 15% of the total vehicle sales in 2022. However, electric pickup trucks are still a niche market, with only about 1% of the total sales in 2022, according to Edmunds.

According to Reuters: “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,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Tom Narayan said. He added that the Cybertruck’s unconventional design could limit its appeal to traditional truck buyers, who tend to prefer more conservative and familiar styles.

Musk said the Cybertruck had received over 250,000 pre-orders as of Sunday, but did not specify how many of those were refundable deposits of $100. He also said the company was open to making changes to the design based on customer feedback. “We’re going to make it better than what you saw,” he said. “It’s going to be awesome.”

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