Innovation

Tesla Cybertruck: latest data shows it’s set to beat a major truck brand

The company's stainless steel behemoth is proving popular.

The Tesla Cybertruck, Elon Musk's striking all-electric pickup truck, looks set to beat a well-established brand.

Research from UBS, shared by Barron's last week, found 18 percent of Americans surveyed would "likely consider buying Cybertruck." The survey, conducted by analyst Patrick Hummel, interviewed 100,000 people in six countries. The findings also showed that American respondents would choose the Cybertruck over the Fiat Chrysler Ram 1500.

It's a big win for Tesla, which is entering a new market with the Cybertruck. Unveiled in November 2019, the Cybertruck turned heads with its cold-rolled 30X steel exterior that led to an angular shape. It stands in stark contrast to more established curved pickup trucks like the Ram 1500. These vehicles are well-respected among fans: the Ram truck has won MotorTrend's truck of the year five times including in 2020, and also claimed last year's car of the year award from Business Insider.

Beyond proving Tesla can enter a new market, the results could also mean positive news for Tesla's goal to become a mass-market automaker. The Cybertruck was outlined in the company's 2016 master plan as one of three vehicles that would push the company away from niche premium offerings. The Model 3 sedan, which entered production in July 2017, was the first vehicle in this series. The Model Y compact SUV, set to start deliveries this month, is the second. The Cybertruck will be the third when production starts in late 2021.

The Cybertruck will be taking on vehicles like the Ford F-series, which has been the highest-selling vehicle for the last 42 years. Tesla noted its plans to take on the F-series at the launch event, where it showed a video of the Cybertruck pulling the latter uphill in a tug-of-war.

Unfortunately, pickup truck fans may take some more convincing than such displays of performance. The UBS survey found the Chevrolet Silverado and Ford F-150 both beat the Cybertruck in head-to-head comparisons.

The survey had more good news for Tesla's other upcoming mass-market vehicle, the Model Y. The research found that 28 percent of global respondents would likely buy the Model Y, up two percent from the Model 3 back in 2018. It also found that 65 percent in China would likely buy the Model Y, a big win for the company's presence in the world's largest electric car market. Tesla started producing Model 3 vehicles at Giga Shanghai in January, its first factory outside of the United States, and the factory is also expected to start producing the Model Y.

Tesla has seen a warm reception with the Cybertruck, and evidence suggests it's on course to entice a large number of buyers. A third-party tracker found in February it had already reached over 500,000 pre-orders, an impressive feat considering the Model 3 had a similar amount of pre-orders over a year after its unveiling. It's important to note, however, that the Cybertruck costs just $100 to pre-order while the Model 3 cost $1,000.

Musk has also noted this high demand filtering through. In the company's fourth-quarter 2019 earnings call, the CEO said the company had "never seen this level of demand." Musk has been using the Cybertruck around California, social media posts have revealed.

This has led to some revised predictions. Loup Ventures tweaked its forecast earlier this month to claim that Cybertruck will account for 15 percent of Tesla's total output after production fully ramps up, expected to be in 2023, higher than its previous five percent estimate. Tesla has also set a higher delivery goal for the coming quarter, suggested as a result of increased interest after the Cybertruck launch.

It's an uphill struggle against big beasts like the F-150, but Tesla looks to be making headway.

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