Tesla Has Finally Started Building Cybertrucks in a Slowing EV Market

(Photo Credit: LovelyMotors/Flickr)
(Photo Credit: LovelyMotors/Flickr)

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After years of delays, the first Cybertruck came off the assembly line at Tesla’s giga-factory in Texas last weekend.

But with EV sales slowing, it might be a while before the $40,000 vehicle becomes a ubiquitous presence on the road.

Get Out of My Dreams and Into My Truck

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the prototype Cybertruck way back in 2019, and despite a blunder when the apparent bulletproof windows were shattered by a lightly thrown metal ball, drivers were still intrigued. While most carmakers have designed EVs to look like their gas-powered counterparts, the aptly named Cybertruck, with its angular build and reflective stainless steel finish, is reminiscent of Blade Runner (only incapable of flight).

An unofficial, crowdsourced tally from Electrek found that nearly 2 million drivers have made a $100 refundable deposit to order the Cybertruck.

Most major car makers are winding down combustion-engine vehicle production in the next decade in favor of EVs. But besides needing a supply of lithium for batteries and a national charging infrastructure, carmakers are facing another problem: absconding buyers:

  • Market researcher Motor Intelligence found that EV sales grew by roughly 50% in the first half of 2023, far below the 71% growth rate last year. And Cox Automotive found that EV days’ supply — the time it takes a dealer to sell a new batch of inventory — went over 100 days, more than double the days’ supply for all models.
  • Obviously, EV interest is still there, but it might not be the quick, seismic shift some automakers were hoping for. Just last month, Lordstown Motor, an EV truck maker accused of inflating pre-order numbers of its vehicles, filed for bankruptcy. A Cox survey found that only 31% of dealers and 53% of buyers see EVs as the next big thing.

“EV growth will continue to outpace overall industry growth, but the days of 75% year-over-year growth are in the rearview mirror,” Cox’s research said. The hard-growth days are ahead.”

Life in the Slow Lane: Despite the initial hype, the Cybertruck doesn’t seem high on Musk’s list of future Tesla concerns. In an April earnings call, Musk wanted investors to remain realistic about the car, saying, “The start of production is always very slow, so I wouldn’t put too much stock in start of production. It’s kind of when does volume production actually happen, and that’s next year.” Musk knows that demand will be tricky going forward; that’s why he’s slashed the prices of Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y vehicles six times already this year.