Tesla Builds Its First Cybertruck After Years of Anticipation: A Look at Production Challenges and Expectations

First Cybertruck Produced at Tesla’s Austin Plant

Almost four years after Elon Musk first unveiled Tesla Inc.’s debut pickup, the automaker has built its first Cybertruck at its plant in Austin, Texas.

Tesla shared the development Saturday on Musk-owned Twitter, posting a photo of workers in safety vests and helmets obscuring much of the vehicle. When Musk first showed a prototype of the wedge-shaped truck in November 2019, the plan was for production to start two years later.

Challenges in Production and Design

Musk has tempered expectations for how quickly Tesla will ramp up production, telling shareholders at the company’s annual meeting in May that the Cybertruck’s radical design poses challenges. He’s said the body will be stainless steel, which can be expensive and difficult to shape and weld.

“It’s going to be hard to make the cost affordable because it is a new car, new manufacturing method,” Musk said. “In the grand scheme of things, relative to the production rate of all the other cars we make, it will be small. But it’s still very cool.”

Initial Pricing and Specification Changes

Tesla initially said it would sell the Cybertruck in three configurations:

  • A single-motor version with more than 250 miles of range, starting at $39,900.
  • A dual-motor model with more than 300 miles of range, starting at $49,900.
  • And a tri-motor iteration with more than 500 miles of range, starting at $69,900.

However, in October 2021, the company removed pricing and specifications from its Cybertruck order page, without explanation. When asked in April this year for updated specs and pricing, Musk demurred, saying Tesla would save that information for a Cybertruck handover event he hoped to stage around the end of the third quarter.

Competition and Analyst Expectations

Since Tesla unveiled the vehicle at an event marred by the botched demonstration of supposedly bulletproof glass, Ford Motor Co. introduced an electric version of its best-selling F-150, General Motors began selling its GMC Hummer EV pickup, and Rivian Automotive Inc. launched its R1T truck.

Deutsche Bank analyst Emmanuel Rosner expects Tesla to deliver 2,000 Cybertrucks this year — a fraction of the 1.78 million vehicles he’s projecting in total. In a June 26 report, he questioned whether the product will boost the company’s profitability, citing the difficulty of optimizing production and the need for larger battery packs to enable towing.

“This could layer on an additional headwind to margin in the back half” of the year, wrote Rosner, who rates Tesla stock a buy with a $260 price target. The shares closed Friday at $281.38 and have soared 128% this year.

Tesla releases second-quarter earnings results on July 19.

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