Tesla’s futuristic pickup truck is almost here, and it looks like it’s about to face a tough competitor.
The upcoming vehicle forms the final third of Tesla’s strategy to reach a mass-market audience, which started with the Tesla Model 3 that launched in July 2017 and continued with the Tesla Model Y that received a full unveiling in March 2019. CEO Elon Musk has been gradually ratcheting up the hype around a vehicle dubbed “futuristic” and “cyberpunk.”
“I can’t talk about the details, but it’s gonna be like a really futuristic-like cyberpunk, ‘Blade Runner’ pickup truck,” Musk said in October 2018. “It’s gonna be awesome, it’s gonna be amazing. This will be heart-stopping. It stops my heart. It’s like, oh, it’s great […] I actually don’t know if a lot of people will buy this pickup truck or not, but I don’t care.”
Musk’s passion project could face stiff competition when it launches, however. The Rivian R1T is an upcoming all-electric pickup truck that boasts a $69,000 price tag before subsidies, 0-60 acceleration time of three seconds, five seats, and a range of 400 miles. At Amazon’s September 25 event, the R1T was spotted sporting Alexa integration to control the car. The American automaker is reportedly considering a subscription model for its launch next year.
Where Tesla previously blazed a trail with high battery range, Rivian’s launch could put the pressure on the company’s upcoming vehicle to wow audiences.
The magic final details could propel Tesla into the spotlight, attracting rugged offroad fans to a vehicle built for the future. Musk has made a number of bold statements about the car’s functionality designed to appeal to this niche. It will be better than the Ford F-150. It will be a better sports car than the Porsche 911. It needs great functionality, a price of $49,000 or less. It “won’t look like a normal truck.”
Musk first mentioned the idea back in the July 2016 master plan. Together with the Model 3 entry-level sedan and the Model Y, the three vehicles would together be enough to bring Tesla, and by extension all electric vehicles, to a mass market. The electric pickup truck market is notably thin, bar the Workhorse W-15 with just 80 miles of range, and the Rivian R1T with an undetermined release date. This lack of competition gives Tesla an opportunity to become an instant leader once the truck hits roads in earnest.
However, Inverse interviews have revealed that pickup truck drivers are concerned about Musk’s comments. Musk has described it as “cyberpunk,” teasing an innovative design that could surprise fans. One Reddit user called “dinozero” wrote on the company’s subreddit that “every comment he’s made about the truck has made me nervous.”
Tesla’s teasers have revealed why Musk refers to it as a Blade Runner design:
Here’s what we know:
When will Tesla Pickup Truck be revealed?
The Tesla Pickup Truck is set to launch sometime after the Tesla Model Y. That car was revealed on March 14, 2019, with plans for the first ones to roll off the production line in the fall of 2020.
The vehicle is expected to be unveiled in November. During the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call in January, Musk suggested that the truck may be ready for an unveiling in the summer. By July 2019, Musk had revised this to suggest a September or October release date. In September, Musk pushed it back again to November.
That would possibly place a launch two years after the second-generation Roadster and Semi truck graced audiences.
How much will Tesla Pickup Truck cost?
Tesla has yet to provide any clues about pricing, but Musk seems to be teasing the vehicle as a passion project to excite people. The last time Tesla let loose in such a way was with the Model X, which features exotic design choices like its falcon wing doors. This made the sports utility vehicle a pain to manufacture, but set it apart as a fun yet functional vehicle. With the Model X starting at $79,500, a price around this range could make sense.
In June, Musk suggested on a podcast that the truck could cost $49,000:
“You’ve got to be able to get a really great truck for $49,000 or less. It’s gotta have incredible functionality from a load-carrying standpoint, look amazing,” Musk said. “The goal is to be a better truck than the F-150, in terms of truck-like functionality. And be a better sports car than a [Porsche 911].”
What is the battery range for Tesla Pickup Truck?
If there’s one place where Tesla excels, it’s battery range. The Model 3 is positioned at the entry level, but even the $35,000 version will offer a range of 220 miles, with the long-range version achieving 310 miles. With the second-generation Roadster set to stun with 620 miles of range, and the Model S already offering 393 miles of NEDC range on the high-end versions, the Pickup Truck could potentially offer a range somewhere around the mid 300s on the low end.
The Rivian R1T pickup truck, by comparison, is expected to offer 400 miles of range when production starts next year.
What Will Be the Tesla Pickup Truck Seating Capacity?
It’s unclear at this stage, but the pickup truck configuration allows for a number of seat layouts. The Toyota Hilux, something of a legend in this field, comes in two seat, four seat and five seat setups. Tesla has also been known to push the boundaries for number of seats you can expect, as the Model S sedan comes with an optional two extra child seats to create a seven seat configuration, unusual in a car of this size. With that in mind, don’t be surprised if the Pickup Truck comes with an impressive number of seats.
How will the Tesla Pickup Truck be manufactured?
The Pickup Truck is shaping up to be unlike the Model 3 and Model Y. Tesla’s most recent car, and its next upcoming car, were both built with big quantities in mind. They were designed for easy production, able to meet the projected one million car per year global demand for the Model 3. However, Musk has referred on several occasions to the “over-engineered” design of the Model X, so while the Pickup Truck is likely to ship in smaller quantities than the Model 3 with reduced regard for mass production, it may not prove the huge challenge the Model X presented.
Musk confirmed as much during the company’s second-quarter earnings call. He explained how the Model 3 sales demand is somewhere around 750,000 vehicles per year, and the Model Y will probably rank at around 1.25 million. The Model S and X rank in with around 80,000 to 100,000 per year, and then the Pickup Truck and Semi Truck receive increasingly smaller demand. Musk summed up by noting that “from a volume standpoint, they’re not all that important in the long-term.”
What has Elon Musk said about Tesla Pickup Truck?
Musk said in a November interview that “I can’t talk about the details, but it’s gonna be like a really futuristic-like cyberpunk, ‘Blade Runner’ pickup truck. It’s gonna be awesome, it’s gonna be amazing. This will be heart-stopping. It stops my heart. It’s like, oh, it’s great.” He later stated that “I actually don’t know if a lot of people will buy this pickup truck or not, but I don’t care,” before stating that “I do care, eventually” as “we wanna get gasoline, diesel pickup trucks off the road.” Musk said that “if there’s only a small number of people that like that truck, I guess we’ll make a more conventional truck in the future. But it’s the thing that I am personally most fired up about.”
Musk took to Twitter back in June to find out what people want from a Pickup Truck. Plans include dual-motor all-wheel drive, “crazy” levels of torque, suspension with dynamic load adjustment, and more. Musk also hinted that the car could use the same “Hardware 2” sensor suite that would one day enable full autonomous driving, claiming that it would parallel park and offer 360-degree cameras and sonar.
With Musk thinking hard about how such a car should feel, expect more details soon.