Tesla CEO Elon Musk has given some “bad news” about the much-anticipated Cybertruck.
Speaking at the company’s annual meeting of stockholders late last week, he warned the production version of the 2019 concept would be a bit different.
“Cybertruck pricing was unveiled in 2019 and the reservation was $99, so you know a lot has changed since then,” said Mr Musk.
“The specs and the pricing will be different.
“I hate to sort of give a little bit of bad news but I think there’s no way to sort have anticipated quite the inflation that we’ve seen and the various issues but what I can say is that the Cybertruck will be one hell of a product and it’s going to be like a damn fine machine.”
He said the company will start installing the production equipment and tooling over the next couple of months at Tesla’s recently-opened plant in Austin, Texas.
“We’ll begin the installation, so aiming to be in volume production middle of next year,” he said.
The path to production for the controversial electric pickup truck has been marked by delays, with rivals like Ford, General Motors and Rivian beating Tesla to market with electric pickups of their own.
Earlier this year, the option to place a refundable $150 deposit for the Cybertruck in markets like Australia was removed.
“We have more orders of the first Cybertrucks than we could possibly fulfil for three years after the start of production,” Mr Musk said in May.
He had confirmed in January that Cybertruck production had been pushed to 2023 due to parts supply constraints. At its reveal, Tesla had said it would enter production in 2021.
Since its reveal, Tesla has made some key changes to prototypes, including adding a large windscreen wiper and exterior mirrors.
In April, Tesla previewed a Cybertruck with different wheels, though there were no door handles – Mr Musk cryptically said the car “can just tell that you’re there and knows that it needs to open”.
Specifications were removed from Tesla’s website late last year, and pricing was removed from the US site.
Before the page update, which affected all global Tesla sites, Tesla’s page for the Cybertruck listed three variants: a single-motor rear-wheel drive model, and dual- and tri-motor all-wheel drive models.
Payload was a claimed 1600kg across the range, with the tri-motor AWD offering a claimed 800km of range, 6.4t towing capacity, and a rapid 2.9-second sprint to 60mph (96.6km/h).
In the US, these were priced at US$39,900, $49,900 and $69,900, respectively (A$53,705, $67,165 and $94,085). That base price was only around $3000 more than a base Model 3 in the US at the time.
While Musk has indicated pricing will be higher, there’s been some subsequent good news for buyers in the US as the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act over the weekend, which included a change to the US$7500 tax credit for electric vehicle purchases.
All EVs built in North America will be eligible for the tax credit, regardless of whether their manufacturer has already reached the vehicle cap for this incentive, as Tesla did a few years ago.
While the Cybertruck appears on Tesla’s Australian site, Mr Musk has been unclear about whether his company would offer a smaller ute for markets like Australia and Europe.
In August 2020, he told Automotive News he was “fundamentally” making the Cybertruck as a “North American ass-kicker”, but said a more conventional-looking pickup was the “fallback strategy”.
“If it turns out nobody wants to buy a weird-looking truck, we’ll build a normal truck, no problem,” he said, conceding the Cybertruck’s polarising styling could alienate customers.
In September 2020, he also said: “We’ll probably make an international version that’s smaller.”
“It will still be cooler, it will just be smaller, because you can’t just make a giant truck like that for international markets.”
Subsequently, he appeared to rule out a smaller pickup on Twitter, posting, “Even 3% smaller is too small”.