Innovation

Tesla Cybertruck release date: Elon Musk reveals a disappointing update

Tesla's all-electric pickup truck is set to complete the firm's plan to bring electric vehicles to the mass market.

The Tesla Cybertruck is coming — but it may take some time before it reaches buyers.

During the company’s second-quarter 2021 earnings call this week, the all-electric car firm explained how its upcoming pickup truck will demonstrate several manufacturing and battery design changes. But while the truck is scheduled to start hitting roads in late 2021, it will depend on how these planned changes pan out.

“With the Cybertruck, we're redefining how vehicles are made,” Lars Moravy, Tesla’s vice president of vehicle engineering, said during the earnings call.

The truck represents the third part of Tesla’s 2016 plan to bring electric vehicles to more people than ever. It started with the Tesla Model 3, a compact sedan launched in 2017 with an advertised starting price of $35,000. It continued with the Model Y compact SUV launched in March 2020 and currently starts at $53,990. It’s set to conclude with the Cybertruck with a starting price of $39,900.

Want to know more about Musk’s plans for the Cybertruck, the state of battery production at Tesla, and what comes next? Read the full transcript for Tesla’s second-quarter earnings call, only in MUSK READS+.

Tesla Cybertruck: when is the release date?

Tesla’s website lists three versions of the Cybertruck:

  • The single-motor rear-wheel-drive version retailing for $39,900. This car will start production in late 2022.
  • The dual-motor all-wheel-drive car retailing for $49,900. This car will start production in late 2021.
  • The tri-motor all-wheel-drive car retailing for $69,900. This car will start production in late 2021.

These launch dates are slightly different from those announced at the November 2019 unveiling. The biggest change is that the tri-motor model was originally to launch in 2022 and the single-motor model in 2021. Tesla CEO Elon Musk posted on Twitter after the event that just 17 percent of pre-orders were for the single-motor model.

But Moravy’s comments during the latest earnings call suggest it could get pushed back to 2022:

“The Cybertruck is currently in its alpha stages. We finished basic engineering architecture of a vehicle. With the Cybertruck, we're redefining how vehicles are made. As Elon said it carries much of the structural pack and large casting designs of the Model Y being built in Berlin and Austin. Obviously, those take priority over the Cybertruck, but we are moving into the beta phases of Cybertruck later this year, and we'll be looking to ramp that in production in Giga Texas after Model Y is up and going.”
Tesla Cybertruck ready for action.Tesla

Tesla Cybertruck: why might the release date get pushed back?

Based on Moravy’s comments in the latest earnings call, we could see a delay.

Moravy noted that the Cybertruck would start production once Tesla started building a new version of its Model Y compact SUV. This car, Musk explained, will enter “limited production” at the new Texas and Berlin factories “later this year.”

Musk described the start of manufacturing as “agony, “so hard,” and “insanely difficult.” Indeed, the CEO famously slept at Tesla’s factory during the Model 3 production ramp-up to try and meet its target production of 5,000 cars per week.

Tesla started making Model 3 cars in July 2017 and aimed to reach 5,000 per week in December 2017. The firm instead met the target in the summer of 2018.

If the Cybertruck is going to start production once the “agony” of Model Y production is over, it will likely take some time.

In some ways, it’s not surprising. The Model Y and Cybertruck are both pioneering new manufacturing techniques that could slow down production.

  • They will feature a casted front and rear body. At the moment, the Model Y vehicles built in California feature a casted rear that reduces the total number of parts needed for manufacturing. Casting the front and rear with a giant machine could reduce manufacturing complexity.
  • The cars may feature Tesla’s advanced 4680 cells, unveiled in September 2020, designed to reduce prices and increase battery range. These cells are designed to work as part of a structural pack, where the battery forms a more integral part of the car’s structure.

Elsewhere in the call, Musk explained that the firm is “challenged” with these 4680 cell designs. With the race to mass-produce a new Model Y and refine new manufacturing techniques, it’s perhaps little surprise that the Cybertruck looks more like a 2022 vehicle.

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