Tesla\u2019s Cybertruck Needs a Lot of Luck to Hit Its Production Target on Schedule

For once, Tesla might begin production of a promised vehicle close to the timeline originally promised. Tesla CEO Elon Musk indicated last week during an earnings call that deliveries of the sharp-edged electric truck could begin at the end of this year—with a few caveats.

“If we get lucky, we’ll be able to do a few deliveries toward the end of this year, but I expect volume productions to begin in 2022,” Musk said during the call.

The Cybertruck was revealed a little over a year ago, in late 2019, with a promised production start in 2021. So the company might technically begin production late this year, but wider production and delivery is still expected to take place in 2022, as Musk indicated.

“We finished almost all of the Cybertruck engineering,” Musk added. “So we’re no longer iterating at the design center level or design level. We’ve got the designs fixed. We will soon order the equipment necessary to make the Cybertruck work. We’re actually going to be using even bigger Tesla machines for the rear body of Cybertruck because we’ve got, obviously, it’s a bigger vehicle and you’ve got a long truck bed. So we’ll be using an 8,000-ton casting press for the rear body casting as opposed to 6,000-ton for Model Y.”

The market success of the Cybertruck is not treated as a sure thing for Tesla by some industry observers, who point out that all previous Tesla models had landed in vehicle segments that were generally well bought by early adopters on the two coasts. Trucks—especially ones shaped like the Cybertruck—could be an entirely different experience for the automaker, because there are only so many early adopters who have the garage space for something that … may not be as commute-friendly.

Is Tesla targeting repeat EV buyers or seeking to convert repeat gas or diesel pickup truck owners? The former seems to be a more natural target, which has prompted some to paint the Cybertruck as a luxury lifestyle toy rather than something that would be purchased by devoted pickup truck buyers. A middle ground of sorts also seems likely: The Cybertruck could appeal to green-minded suburbanites with a need for a family truck who were otherwise considering another four-door gas-engined pickup.

Some industry observers suggest that it’s overly optimistic to expect first deliveries of the Cybertruck even in early 2022. This won’t prevent the automaker from showing off a few preproduction prototypes at the end of this year to create the impression of production, with true volume production yet a half a year or more away. That’s because some of the equipment for the production line sourced from manufacturing suppliers does not appear to have been secured yet.

Another question is whether the Cybertruck will keep its edgy design and unpainted stainless steel skin, with which the company has no experience working. Think back on the production hell experienced by the Model 3 with its aluminum and steel components, which required welding techniques not necessary in the Model S, whose construction largely depends on rivets and adhesives.

It’s also an open question of whether Tesla will keep the shape of the concept truck shown at its debut a little over a year ago, or whether it will water it down to appeal to a broader audience. The design had been kept under a tight lid prior to its actual unveiling, and it immediately drew a polarized reaction from the crowd—tech glitterati, EV influencers, media—and from observers all over the world.

Whether the Cybertruck will appeal to more traditional truck buyers who may eventually be interested in an electric truck is a consideration, too, because by the time volume production starts, Tesla will have a number of competitors in the EV truck category, starting with Hummer, whose production is slated to begin later this year.

Should Tesla bring the design of the concept Cybertruck into production as-is, or should it revise it? Let us know in the comments below.

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