Tesla's Elon Musk has a certain talent for creating drama. And on Thursday night, he did it again with the announcement of his company's new Cybertruck. But there are still some very important questions he and Tesla need to answer now that Cybertruck is apparently coming to roads.
If you missed it, Cybertruck is the next vehicle the company is launching. It comes with a decidedly futuristic design and can seat six. It'll be an all-electric pickup truck with a 250-mile range to start. Its price starts at $39,900, but if you want more range on a single charge, you'll need to pay $49,900. A top-notch "tri-motor" version will cost $69,900.
During the Cybertruck's unveiling on Thursday night, Musk was quick to note that it comes with a hardened design that can take a beating and still not suffer from any damage. It wasn't until Tesla design Franz von Holzhausen threw a ball at the apparently reinforced window that it became clear Tesla has some work to do before it can send this truck into production in late-2021.
Indeed, I have some questions about the Cybertruck that weren't necessarily answered Thursday night. Here they are:
Is Cybertruck Real or Should We Expect Changes?
Look, I'll be the first to admit that the Cybertruck's design is outstanding and better looking than any pickup truck I've ever seen. But with a combination of durable glass and a tough exterior to go along with that decidedly unique design, I have to wonder if the Cybertruck we'll see on roads in the coming years will actually look like what we saw on Thursday night.
Just a quick glimpse at Cybertruck tells you everything you need to know about its road-readiness. A street-legal front bumper seems to be missing and the tires are clearly protruding from the wheel wells, which isn't allowed on roads in the U.S. Some other obvious, safety features, like side-view mirrors, are also missing.
I'm all for companies showcasing concept vehicles and refining designs as time goes on. But does Tesla really believe the Cybertruck in its current form would be allowed on roads? And if not, what will need to change over time to get it there? We haven't been provided a real answer.
How Will You Mitigate Delays?
Tesla's ability to keep a schedule has been one of its biggest problems over the years. With hefty demand for its vehicles and not enough production capacity to keep up, Tesla struggles each quarter to meet deadlines and get vehicles delivered to people in the timeframes they expect.
To be fair, Tesla has gotten better at that and has improved production considerably in the past couple of years. But as its Model 3 proves all too clearly, it still has plenty of work to do. And there are no signs of Tesla demand falling off anytime soon. Combine those factors with a new vehicle that promises similarly impressive demand and I wonder if Tesla is already being too aggressive with its launch timeline.
We'll have to wait and see, I suppose, but I hope Tesla can make good on what appears to be a somewhat ambitious timeline for getting the Cybertruck, with all of its complexity, on the road.
Who Will Want Cybertruck?
I'm not sure during its presentation on Thursday that Tesla did a good enough job of explaining who it thinks the Cybertruck is really designed for.
Yes, it's a pickup truck and yes it has a towing capacity of more than 7,500 pounds, but its design towards the back might make it a non-starter for construction companies that want a boxier, simpler design. And as nice as electric vehicles may be, there's no proof that they will be a desirable choice for anyone who needs the big, tough, powerful trucks offered by Dodge, Ford, and Chevy.
Right now, Cybertruck feels more like an homage to Tesla and its fans rather than one that has real and long-term appeal in a space that's decidedly different from passenger sedans.
Tesla has plenty of time to make its case for why its Cybertruck would be a desirable option, but at least right now, it's not making that case all that effectively.