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Tesla’s botched Cybertruck event is good news for Rivian, other EV truck makers

Tesla delivered the first Cybertrucks yesterday to a lukewarm reaction, given revelations on its specs, pricing, and availability. But Tesla’s miss might be other EV truck makers’ gain, as the big question marks on Cybertruck have been answered disappointingly.

At the original Cybertruck unveiling, Tesla said the truck would start at $39,900, be available in late 2021, have a payload of 3,500 pounds in a 6.5-foot bed, and a tow rating of up to 14,000 pounds max range of 500+ miles for the top-end version (which was meant to start at $69,900).

As of yesterday, we know that none of those numbers are true. The truck starts at $79,990 today (and $60,990 in 2025), has a payload of 2,500 pounds in a 6-foot bed, a tow rating of up to 11,000 pounds, and a range of 340 miles, or 470 with an additional battery that eats up a chunk of your bed space.

It seems like the only place in which Tesla exceeded its original estimation is 0-60 times for the mid- and high-spec configurations, which are .6 and .3 seconds faster, respectively. These are nice specs, and it’s awesome to see a Cybertruck beat a Porsche 911 while towing a Porsche 911. However, a truck is still not a sportscar, no matter what the quarter-mile results suggest.

And overall, the presentation at the event was just underwhelming (you can view a recording of our live-react watch party here). Not only was the event almost half an hour late and poorly lit, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk showed off his standard poor presentation skills (which have been getting worse lately with his Twitter distraction, prompting questions from investors). Worse, some cool Cybertruck features weren’t even mentioned – like Powershare bidirectional charging, which lets you run your home, camp, or another vehicle off of the Cybertruck’s battery.

Tesla even did a repeat of its window strength testing stunt from the original Cybertruck unveiling, but it pointlessly used a lobbed baseball instead of a steel ball.

All of this has led to a lot of disappointment among order holders – and made room for competing electric trucks now that we finally know answers to questions that have loomed large over the segment for years now.

Other electric trucks compare favorably with Cybertruck’s unveiled specs, pricing

Prior to now, other electric trucks have suffered from the comparison to a potential Cybertruck, with millions of preorders and a promised $40,000 base price.

With that product looming, it’s hard to look at an F-150 Lightning at a base of $50,000 (which is also $10,000 over its originally promised price) and think that you’re getting a great deal. And the Rivian R1T, which has been widely praised as easily the best pickup ever, looks like even more of a stretch at its $73,000 base price.

But now that Cybertruck specs and pricing have been officially unveiled, those comparisons become a lot better.

There is a question of whether many people were actually cross-shopping the Cybertruck versus more traditional-looking pickup trucks in the first place, but a difference in base price of more than $20,000 can make up for a lot of questionable styling.

The comparison was made directly on Reddit in a post comparing Musk’s past statements about the Lightning’s price with the actual prices of the Cybertruck – which are now much more expensive than the base and even upgraded trims of the Lightning, both of which are available now whereas the base model Cybertruck won’t come until 2025.

We’ve also seen plenty of comments, including the top comments on our own post about the Cybertruck yesterday, which aren’t happy about the Cybertruck’s base price and compare directly to the Lightning.

So despite the Cybertruck’s unconventional look, it’s clear that a lot of people are putting it into the “truck” category and comparing it against other offerings. Tesla did so too, themselves, by offering a comparison against the Lightning, F-350 Super Duty, and Rivian R1T in a tractor-pulling test during the presentation yesterday.

The market has noticed

This means that Tesla’s loss is the other trucks’ gain. If Tesla truly has 2 million order holders who were waiting to buy an electric truck until they finally saw the Cybertruck specs, surely some percentage of those holders will end up deciding to go elsewhere.

And it seems like the stock market has already made this comparison because the market isn’t looking favorably on Tesla’s unveiling, whereas other EV truck makers are up quite a bit (with Rivian leading the pack since trucks are their whole thing). The whole market is up intraday, but Rivian is up quite a bit more than the sector as a whole.

Top comment by Joel Anderson

Liked by 56 people

This wouldn’t have been a problem if they hadn’t set such unrealistic, insane expectations for this vehicle and themselves. Those of us who have been on this site since the unveiling and who doubted the specs were ridiculed relentlessly by the “true believers” who accused anyone who expressed even the slightest bit of skepticism of shorting Tesla or shilling other companies who beat Tesla to the punch.

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Even Tesla seems to have recognized that those reservation-holders might want to go elsewhere. Soon after the event, it offered Cybertruck reservation-holders $1,000 off its other EVs, seeming to recognize that it might see some flight from those 2 million reservation-holders.

There has been a lot of talk recently about EV demand, but much of it is false. EV sales are indeed still rising and rising at a good pace that is comparable to previous years. There are headwinds in the entire auto market right now, but a lot of the complaints can be shown to have ulterior motives – like potentially being used to influence upcoming tailpipe regulations.

But for electric trucks specifically, both GM and Ford have backed off on production plans for supply chain and other reasons, even though Ford just set an all-time Lightning record with a 100% year-over-year sales increase. Rivian has not reduced its production plans – in fact, it has increased them twice this year.

Given the poor reaction to the Cybertruck’s unveiled specs, maybe it’s time for those production plans to ratchet up a little further since we think there will be some customers out there looking for something else to buy.

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Avatar for Jameson Dow Jameson Dow

Jameson has been driving electric vehicles since 2009, and has been writing about them and about clean energy for since 2016.

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