The Tesla Cybertruck, the all-electric pickup truck set to hit roads late 2021, has a new rollout plan.
During the company's second-quarter 2020 earnings call on Wednesday, CEO Elon Musk outlined how Tesla will use a new facility in Austin, Texas, to produce the new vehicle. The new facility, which Musk dubbed "Giga Texas," will "be doing Cybertruck there, the Tesla Semi, and we'll be doing Model 3 and Y for the eastern half of North America." The reveal came in the same week that Musk suggested Tesla is planning tweaks to alloys used with the Cybertruck.
Musk's plans reveal just how Tesla will produce the angular-designed Cybertruck, which stunned industry observers when unveiled in November 2019. The vehicle is part of Tesla's three-part plan to bring electric vehicles to a broader market, which started with the Model 3 sedan in July 2017 and continued with the Model Y compact SUV in March 2020.
During Wednesday's call, Musk described this new Texas facility:
"The location is five minutes from Austin Interational Airport and 15 minutes from downtown Austin. It's about 2,000 acres, and we're gonna make it a factory that is going to be stunning. It's right on the Colorado River. We're gonna have a boardwalk where there'll be hiking biking trail. It's going to basically be an ecological paradise. Birds in the trees, butterflies fish in the stream. And it'll be open to the public as well. So not closed in and only Tesla. So if anyone's interested in working at Giga Texas, with engineering, production, whatever the case may be, please let us know. We're going to be doing a major, major factory there."
The reveal ends months of speculation about where Tesla would place its planned central United States facility, with the other facility in the running as Tulsa, Oklahoma. Musk said he was "super impressed" by Tulsa's team and would "strongly consider" a facility in the city in the future. Work is already underway on the Austin facility, having started over the previous weekend.
The announcement also helps shed light on Tesla's global plans for production, as it plans to have three more factories in total over the next 12 to 18 months. Tesla's car production facility in Fremont, California, will be left to produce "Model S and X for worldwide consumption, and 3 and Y for the western half of North America," as well as the upcoming second-generation Roadster. Musk has previously explained that the existing Giga Shanghai and upcoming Giga Berlin would focus on Model 3 and Y for those markets, as part of a plan to produce entry-level vehicles closer to consumers.
The news comes in the same week that Musk suggested the Cybertruck may change alloy. The bizarre angular design, Musk explained after the reveal, was due to the use of ultra-hard 30X steel that can't be stamped. On Twitter this week, Musk explained that SpaceX is "rapidly changing alloy constituents & forming methods" for its rockets, later confirming that the Cybertruck's alloy would also change as well.
The Tesla Cybertruck has been seen as something of a passion project for Musk. Prior to its unveiling, he declared in a 2018 interview that "I don't care" if it has low sales figures. He also compared it to a vehicle out of sci-fi classic movie Blade Runner.
At the event, Tesla detailed three models of car:
- A $39,900 version with single-motor rear-wheel drive, set to start production in late 2022.
- A $49,900 version with dual-motor all-wheel drive, set to arrive late 2021.
- A $69,900 version with tri-motor all-wheel drive, set to arrive late 2021.
Although the car has a surprising design, Musk said in February 2020 that "we've never seen this level of demand" for an electric vehicle.
The Inverse analysis – It's perhaps fitting that the Cybertruck is set to be built in Austin. Flex Fleet found in October 2016 that there were 4.2 million pickup trucks in Texas, second only to California. The state is internationally renowned for its image of rugged cowboys, and it's perhaps no surprise that Texans need a machine that can fit the bill.
The question is whether the traditional truck owner will take an interest. Analysis from Loup Ventures in March 2020 suggested that the response could be more positive than previously assumed.