Tesla Model Y: Why Elon Musk May Tease Electric Pickup Truck at the Event

Is Tesla about to unveil its pickup truck? Rumors are running rampant ahead of the Model Y launch, the electric compact SUV set for an unveiling for Thursday, with some speculating that CEO Elon Musk could also reveal a vehicle he’s described as “cyberpunk.”

The Model Y is set for an unveiling at 8 p.m. Pacific time on March 14 at the Tesla Design Studio in Hawthorne, California. Tesla will be livestreaming the event from its website. The vehicle is set to form part of Tesla’s strategy to bring electric vehicles to more consumers instead of only selling premium-priced vehicles like the Model S and X, with the cheaper Model 3 sedan launching in July 2017 and a $35,000 model launching in February. The Model Y is expected to cost just 10 percent more than the Model 3.

The pickup truck is the third part of this strategy, first outlined in the company’s 2016 master plan. Musk has gradually ratcheted up the hype, describing it as the vehicle he’s “most excited about.” In a November 2018 list, he ranked the pickup truck as a higher priority than the Semi truck and second-generation Roadster,

“I can’t talk about the details, but it’s gonna be like a really futuristic-like cyberpunk, ‘Blade Runner’ pickup truck,” he said in an interview that month. “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.”

Tesla Pickup Truck: When Will It Launch?

Musk stated in March that the pickup truck will be unveiled later this year, drawing a distinction between the Model Y and pickup truck launch events.

That hasn’t stopped speculation that the pickup truck could make a surprise appearance, especially as Tesla has pulled off a surprise reveal before. At the November 2017 event at Tesla’s Design Studio, where the company unveiled the Semi truck, Musk unexpectedly finished the show by demonstrating the second-generation Roadster supercar due for launch in 2020.

“My guess is that it will be the ‘one more thing’ at the Model Y unveiling in March like the next-gen Roadster was at the Tesla Semi event,” Electrek editor Fred Lambert wrote in August 2018. This sentiment has been echoed by fans on Reddit, with some speculating the truck could appear alongside the Model Y.

There are a couple of issues with this theory. The first is that Musk has been relatively clear that the pickup truck will launch later this year after the Model Y. With the Roadster, Musk had teased a future launch for years, but had made relatively little commitment to a full unveiling date.

The other issue is that Tesla has already launched a lot this year. Beyond the $35,000 Model 3 and the upcoming Model Y, it’s also taken he wraps off the third-generation supercharger that’s capable of doubling recharge speeds. It’s also broken ground on a Shanghai Gigafactory, expected to start producing cars by the end of this year. The company has also started shipping the Model 3 internationally, having enjoyed big success in North America.

Analysts are also skeptical about the number of products Tesla could be announcing. Baird analyst Ben Kallo told clients in a note seen by Business Insider in February that “we believe management is cognizant of the short-term need to reassure investors on Model 3 demand and margins,” adding that throwing more cars into the mix could make things more complicated.

“The key downside to providing too much information about the Model Y and its enhanced capabilities in software and hardware is that it could steal the thunder of the still-ramping Model 3 just as it’s getting introduced into key international markets.” Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas told CNBC in February. Adding a pickup truck to the list could make matters worse.

It may be impractical and overwhelming, but revealing the pickup truck alongside the Model Y could make for a big surprise.

Supercharger V3 in action