Innovation

Tesla Cybertruck: Elon Musk says 'we've never seen this level of demand'

The company's bizarrely-shaped pickup truck could send sales soaring.

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

The Cybertruck, the bizarrely-shaped vehicle that's been turning heads on public roads, could prove to be a major hit. That's according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who declared in the company's fourth-quarter 2019 earnings call that demand for the vehicle has been unprecedented.

"What's the most bad ass futuristic armored personnel carrier? We wanted it to look like it came out of a sci-fi movie from the future," Musk said. "We've never seen this level of demand. I think we will sell as many as we can make for many years. It's going to be pretty nuts. I think actually the product is better than people realize even. They don't even have enough information to realize the awesomeness of it. It's just great."

It's a far cry from before the truck was unveiled in November 2019, when Musk declared one year prior that "I don't care" if it has low sales figures. At the vehicle's unveiling at the Tesla Design Studio in Los Angeles, Musk demonstrated the car's strong, angular design and ability to withstand a beating – a point slightly undermined when Tesla's lead designer smashed the window.

Following the event, Tesla updated its website to start taking reservations. There are three basic models:

  • A $39,900 version with single-motor rear-wheel drive, set to arrive 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.

All three are available for pre-order with a fully refundable $100 reservation. Based on Musk's comments, the company has racked up a large number of orders via this system.

The Cybertruck on stage.FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Is Musk right to think demand will continue? There may be reason to think the Cybertruck will prove popular. The best-selling vehicle in the United States has been the Ford F-series for the past 42 years. Data from Statista also shows that, with 18 percent of the market, the pickup truck is the second most popular vehicle in the United States.

But that doesn't necessarily mean Tesla will find the same levels of success. Gene Munster, analyst at Loup Ventures, told Inverse in August 2019 that he predicted the truck would only account for around five percent of the company's total car output.

The main issue could be whether Tesla can actually make that many cars over the next few years. The company needs more batteries, as Musk noted during the call, which means capacity is slim.

"We don't comment on those detailed numbers [for the Cybertruck] except the demand is just far more than we could reasonably make in the space of, I don't know, three or four years, something like that," Musk said. "The thing we're going to be really focused on is increasing battery production capacity because that's very fundamental."

Tesla has big goals to produce more vehicles and reach a mass market. Its new Giga Berlin and Giga Shanghai are aiming to reach annual production of 500,000 cars each, and the existing Fremont factory is aiming to reach a similar level. That means a focus on the Model 3 sedan and Model Y compact SUV, two of the three vehicles listed in the 2016 master plan as essential for bringing Tesla to a mass market.

But with the Cybertruck forming the third part of that plan, its high levels of demand could prove essential.

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