Tesla’s sci-fi-inspired Cybertruck pickup generated massive hype for the brand when it was first shown in November 2019. However, now the company is expected to push the pickup’s target launch date by the end of 2021 by at least two. year will miss, the long-awaited but still elusive model has become a kind of millstone around Tesla’s neck.
Adding to the misery is the fact that battery-electric pickup rivals no longer exist just on paper, but are now made and delivered into the hands of customers. Ford has already confirmed that it has raised its production forecasts for its new F-150 Lightning BEV pickup, while the Rivian R1T and GMC Hummer EV are fast stitching the luxury end of the segment. We also expect battery-electric versions of the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra and RAM 1500 to arrive earlier than the Cybertruck, meaning Tesla’s challenger will enter a crowded market, rather than one he hoped to have all to himself.
Last week, reports emerged that Tesla has quietly removed the option to order the Cybertruck from its Australian website. Local auto news site Drive.com.au noted that Cybertruck orders were fully refundable and advised Australian reservation holders to request a refund of their A$150 deposit. Observers were quick to wonder what this move means for Cybertruck’s broader production plan and whether it points to further disruption in the future. Here we look at three possible interpretations of the Cybertruck’s removal from the Australian market and assess their relative likelihood:
Cybertruck project is cancelled
The first and most pessimistic assumption we’ve seen regarding reports of Cybertruck removal from Tesla’s Australian website is that it could herald the complete cancellation of the pickup project. If this is true, Tesla may have realized that it was not technically or financially possible to offer the Cybertruck as originally billed and, instead of publicly canceling the entire project, it will gradually remove references to it.
You could argue that Tesla has based much of its reputation on the Cybertruck, and if the brand proves unable to deliver the new vehicle, the brand could suffer significant reputational damage. Applying a gradual strategy to remove references and listings from the product could serve to mitigate the blow Tesla would suffer if Tesla canceled the Cybertruck.
However, we do not believe that this theory holds much water. Based on the evolution of the pickup design, which we discussed in more detail in June, we believe that too much active work and therefore R&D expenditure has been spent on the Cybertruck for Tesla to simply implement the plan. to let go. And while the Australian market is sizeable, Tesla is clearly less of a priority than the main sales regions in North America.
Australian Cybertruck plan changed for smaller Tesla pickup
We’ve also seen it suggest that Tesla may have chosen to take orders for the Cybertruck in Australia, as it now plans to offer a smaller, more affordable model – similar to a Toyota HiLux or Ford Ranger. – to better suit the market. This hypothetical second pickup model would likely be offered across Europe and Asia, with the full-size Cybertruck primarily targeting the North American market. This is in part consistent with comments from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who said the
Cybertruck is primarily a North American product.
It is true that smaller pickups are more popular in the Australian and European markets, but there are too many logical holes in this theory. First, the hype surrounding the new Ford Maverick and Ranger clearly shows that there is a lot of interest in mid-sized pickups in North America, so there’s no logical reason why Tesla wouldn’t sell that model alongside the Cybertruck on the continent. In addition, the huge challenge Tesla faces in bringing Cybertruck to market suggests that there is unlikely to be a secret, second pickup project waiting in the wings to follow.
Tesla rationalizes the markets Cybertruck will be sold in
From our perspective, the most likely explanation is that Tesla is simply rationalizing the markets where Cybertruck will be sold. This matches Musk’s comments about the truck’s North American focus, and allows the company to put the Cybertruck into production without necessarily worrying about getting type approval for European and Asian markets.
Notably, the option to order the Cybertruck through Tesla’s website is only offered in left-hand drive North American markets. This could indicate that the company believes it would not be cost-effective to develop a right-hand drive version for Australia, the UK or Japan, among others.
This article was first published on GlobalData’s dedicated research platform, the Automotive Intelligence Center