You might not want to count on getting a Cybertruck this year despite promises to the contrary. During a conference call discussing Tesla’s latest earnings, company chief Elon Musk said mass production of the electric pickup won’t begin until 2024. He still expects manufacturing to kick off “sometime this summer,” but warned that output would be “very slow” early on. Tesla is still in the midst of installing assembly equipment.
Tesla unveiled the Cybertruck in 2019, but has delayed its release multiple times. The company also warned that the final specs and pricing will change. The EV was originally supposed to start at $39,900 in its single-motor configuration and climb to nearly $70,000 for the tri-motor version. While the automaker is still taking deposits, it’s no longer promising specific configurations. The pandemic, a rough economy, longstanding supply chain issues and design tweaks are all expected to influence what you can ultimately buy.
This isn’t a new problem for Tesla. Production of the Model 3 started in July 2017, but was very limited until mid-2018 as the company struggled to clear factory bottlenecks. The Cybertruck poses unique challenges, however. Its signature cold-rolled steel body is said to be extra-tough, but also requires manufacturing techniques not normally used for cars. Most production is expected to take place at the Giga Texas factory near Austin, which formally opened last April.
The revised timeline may create problems. The Cybertruck is already entering a fiercer competitive landscape that includes the Ford F-150 Lightning, GMC Hummer EV and Rivian R1T. By the time Tesla’s production is in full swing, it will likely have to take on the Ram 1500 EV and Chevy Silverado EV as well as more affordable versions of existing trucks. An electric pickup is no longer the novelty it was four years ago, and it’s not clear if the finished Cybertruck will offer major advantages over its rivals.