Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk has never been known for his understated subtlety. But his latest claims about the forthcoming Tesla pickup truck just might take the cake.
- Tesla truck expected to debut sometime this year.
- Will be priced at “$49,000, or less,” according to Elon Musk.
- It will look more like a vehicle from Blade Runner than a traditional truck, which Musk admits won’t be for everybody.
- Furthermore, Musk claims it will be better at truck stuff than an F-150, better at being a sports car than Porsche 911.
Speaking with the Ride The Lightning podcast this week, Musk was asked about the Tesla pickup, which the brand teased in May (teaser image pictured below). He kicked off his comments (around the 50-minute mark in the interview) on the truck by saying, “You’ve got to be able to get a really great truck for $49,000, or less.”
Musk then divulged that the truck teaser rendering was the front of the vehicle and that it would be polarizing since it looks like something out of “Blade Runner.” Then the hyperbole started. The Tesla pickup has to be better at truck things than a Ford F-150. What’s more, it simultaneously has to be a better sports car than the Porsche 911. These are laughably absurd assertions. Heck, I am not sure Tesla could build a truck that was better than an F-150 or a more potent sports car than a 911 — let alone do both in one truck.
Likely, Musk is overcompensating and firing a shot across the bow of Ford because not only did it recently confirm it’s working on a pure-electric variant of its best-selling F-150, it also has a $500 million deal with Rivian to build more all-electric trucks and SUVs based on Rivian’s so-called skateboard chassis. So not only will its traditional truck be offered in electric, it will have a slew of new Rivian-based electric vehicles by 2025 as well. My sense is that Musk feels threatened by those developments and is talking big to make up for it.
Let’s set armchair psychoanalysis aside for a moment, though, and revisit that claimed “$49,000, or less” starting price. I am skeptical anyone will ever actually receive delivery on a Tesla truck below the $50,000 price tag. That’s because the $35,000 Model 3 (actually $36,000) was well behind schedule and the company hasn’t delivered many. Even today, the base Model 3 is hard to come by.
Plus, Rivian’s R1T electric truck is priced starting at $61,500 — and that’s after the $7,500 federal tax incentive is factored in. So, I have a hard time believing that Tesla will be able to undercut Rivian by $11,000, especially since Teslas are no longer privy to that full Federal tax incentive as of the first of this year.
At that price, it seems unlikely that Tesla will be able to make a profit on such a sizable vehicle. Plus, where is it even going to build the truck anyhow? I mean, Tesla is already working to retool its Fremont, California production facility (instead of the Nevada Gigafactory) in order to build the Model Y — two years ahead of schedule. The pure-electric carmaker is attempting that manufacturing feat in an effort to rush a potentially popular (and profitable) new model to stores as soon as possible because it’s in financial dire straits.
Given that financial pressure, I think it’s unlikely that Tesla will be first to the electric pickup truck market. If you’d like to read about who I predict will lead the pure-electric truck charge, you can do so here.