The upcoming Tesla Cybertruck was designed with only America in mind according to CEO Elon Musk, with the polarising pickup designed foremost for the US market as a “North American ass-kicker”.
If it flops due to its controversial design, Musk told Automotive News a “copycat truck” is the company’s “fallback strategy”. He also suggested a smaller ute could follow.
“We sort of made the decision to not make this a world truck. So it doesn’t comply with a lot of specifications, like it doesn’t comply with EU’s specs and stuff… Maybe we can get, I don’t know, some exceptions to EU rules depending on how it’s classified,” he said.
It’s unclear if Musk’s statements affect the Cybertruck’s introduction here. Officially, Australian consumers can already pre-order a Cybertruck, while the Tesla website says the Cybertruck will be available globally.
In sharp contrast to the American Big 3’s use of customer insights when updating their big pickup trucks, Musk laughed at the notion of customer research and said Tesla hasn’t done any.
Musk also said he personally doesn’t pay attention to competitors, which includes electric vehicle start-ups like Rivian, Lordstown and Nikola which will soon be launching their own electric pickups.
“We just made a car we thought was awesome and looks super weird. I just wanted to make a futuristic battle tank — something that looks like it could come out of Blade Runner or Aliens or something like that but was also highly functional,” he said.
He conceded that, while it could be a “better sports car” than a Porsche 911 and a better truck than a Ford F-150, the electric ute could still fail.
He isn’t worried. “If it turns out nobody wants to buy a weird-looking truck, we’ll build a normal truck, no problem.”
Though the Cybertruck boasts avant garde, razor-edged styling, it’s been designed for heavy-duty work and boasts features like bulletproof stainless steel bodywork, an air compressor, and an on-board generator.
“We want it to be something you could use to tow a boat, a horse trailer, pull tree stumps out of the ground, go off-roading and you don’t have to worry about scratching the paint because there is no paint. You could just be smashing boulders and be fine.”
The Cybertruck will be a big ‘un, comparable in capability to the Ford Super Duty and Chevrolet Silverado HD. Tesla isn’t necessarily looking to steal market share from established players like Ford, Chevrolet and Ram, however, with the company instead trying to create a product that buyers will love.
When it enters production next year, it’ll face a segment that will have appeared almost overnight. Rivals include the Nikola Badger, Rivian R1T, Lordstown Endurance, GMC Hummer EV and an electric version of the Ford F-150, all of which are expected to launch over the next couple of years.
At least 200,000 customers have already put down refundable $100 deposits for the Cybertruck since last November, according to Musk.
In addition to a potential smaller ute, Musk said Tesla is also weighing developing either a van or minivan for its next model line.
As expected from Musk by now, he has lofty goals – he eventually wants Tesla to produce 20 million new vehicles a year. Volkswagen, currently the world’s largest automaker, built 10.8 million vehicles last year.