The Tesla Cybertruck is popular, and it's forcing experts to reconsider their predictions.
The all-electric pickup truck, unveiled November 2019 for a production start date of late 2021, offers a striking design and a low $39,900 starting price. Analysts responded rather cautiously to the initial launch, but in the wake of positive comments and data more are voicing their belief that the Cybertruck could play a stronger role in Tesla's fortunes. Even Tesla itself this week appeared to be acting more bullish on the truck's success.
A third-party tracker suggests it has already outpaced the Model 3 sedan to reach over 500,000 pre-orders, perhaps aided by its low $100 deposit price. Although CEO Elon Musk suggested ahead of launch the design would be groundbreaking, and truck owners told Inverse that they were worried by these comments, reception among the target audience appears to be relatively warm.
This has led to the team at Loup Ventures last week adjusting its projected annual Cybertruck deliveries from five to 15 percent of Tesla's total output. It follows a positive response from Piper Jaffray analyst Alexander Potter, who in December 2019 claimed Tesla could deliver 200,000 Cybertrucks per year by 2023. Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry also claimed in January 2020 that the Cybertruck's success could lead to similar vehicles like a "Cybercar."
It's a marked change from the immediate aftermath of the launch, when the truck received a questionable response from analysts. Credit Suisse said competitors could “breathe a sigh of relief.” Bernstein’s Toni Sacconaghi described the vehicle as "weird," and RBC Capital Markets analyst Joseph Spak claimed it would appeal to the "influencer crowd."
Tesla has also showed signs it's positive on the Cybertruck, after it set an unexpectedly high delivery target for this quarter. Electrek reported this week that the company has set a North American sales target roughly in line with the fourth quarter of 2019, when the company achieved a record delivery figure of 112,000. This quarter is the first time that American buyers won't have access to any federal tax credits, a phase-out triggered after Tesla sold more than 200,000 all-electric vehicles in the country.
The company, according to the publication, expects to deliver roughly the same amount of vehicles this quarter. This is despite the fact consumers were expected to rush their orders to cash in on the tax credit, which starts at $7,500 but sat at $1,875 after a staggered phase-out. The company reportedly expects increased interest after the Cybertruck unveiling, with some opting for a currently-available car instead and others leasing to plug the gap before the Cybertruck launches.
Musk claimed in the company's most recent earnings call that demand was soaring. He told investors in January that "we've never seen this level of demand," adding "I think we will sell as many as we can make for many years." Musk later clarified that the demand is "just far more than we could reasonably make in the space of, I don't know, three or four years."
The Cybertruck's warm reception has also filtered through to analyst expectations. Loup Ventures spoke to 22 construction professionals in the midwest, and found that two-thirds were either positive or neutral about electric cars. Just three suggested they would be embarrassed to turn up to work in the car. This is despite the fact that truck owners expressed concerns ahead of the reveal, and one owner in March 2019 told Inverse that they believed the vehicle would struggle to sell "if it’s too futuristic looking."
The firm's research also found that the truck had strong awareness, with half claiming they'd heard of it. The evidence also suggests that the Cybertruck's price could be enticing, as those surveyed guessed the base model price to be around $84,000 rather than $39,900.
Gene Munster, an analyst with the firm, told Inverse in August 2019 he only expected the truck to account for five percent of Tesla's output. Following this new research, the firm has revised this prediction. It now expects the Cybertruck to account for 15 percent of Tesla's output in the first year of full-speed production, expected to be 2023.
The Cybertruck forms the third part of Tesla's plan to reach a mass market, a plan that started with the Model 3 in July 2017 and is expected to continue with the Model Y this month. But while the Cybertruck has been typically seen as a less important vehicle in this lineup, it could end up playing a bigger role than expected.