“S3XY” – for many years Tesla only offered four models. All vehicles shared a common design language; ultimately they only differed in size, performance and equipment. The Cybertruck breaks with this strategy - in fact, it breaks with everything previously known from the auto industry. For Tesla, although the company is the most valuable automobile company in the world according to its share price, it is probably about more than just a fun field test.
The reasons for this are diverse. If you look at the picture of the car, some of them immediately catch your eye. The Cybertruck is an extremely special car whose design has yet to be proven. In addition, the body is made of stainless steel. This is actually quite an unfavorable material for a car because you can immediately see water stains, fingerprints, bird droppings and other dirt that inevitably comes into contact with the car on the road.
It is also the stainless steel that makes the Cybertruck a major challenge for the factory. There are said to have been numerous problems during production with the prototype, according to the “Handelsblatt”. “Bloomberg” also reports on it.
Accordingly, it is expensive and very complicated to form and weld stainless steel. Added to this is the high weight that the material has. For an electric car with an already heavy battery, this is a burden that every manufacturer should actually avoid.
But more visible than the high weight, which thwarts the plans for a vehicle that is actually capable of off-road use on hilly off-road routes, are the problems with production. With stainless steel you can see every gap, every protrusion and every flaw. Even more so than other Tesla vehicles, which are not known for their perfect workmanship anyway.
Company boss Elon Musk, who warned internally about the vehicle several times, also knows this. When it came to manufacturing, Musk ordered the utmost precision - and the engineers had to somehow find a way to comply. The prototypes already proved that this is obviously not easy.
Finished cars that meet the standard of series vehicles are now available from dealers in the USA. Fred Lambert, a well-known Tesla expert, recently visited New York. His conclusion: Even if the vehicle on display is “the best-looking Cybertruck” he has examined so far, the car is not perfect. Irregular gaps can be found on the vehicle, for example on the front fender. And Lambert confirmed: You can see everything. Immediately.
Tesla has already warned that the coming period will be very difficult for the company. In an investor meeting at the end of September, Elon Musk didn't mince words either.
When asked about the high complexity of the Cybertruck, he said: "I mean, we dug our own grave with the Cybertruck. You know, nobody probably digs their grave better than you do. And special products that only come onto the market every year are incredibly difficult to launch and produce in sufficient quantities right from the start. Success is not guaranteed either."
Tesla assumes that it will take around 18 months until the company is out of the woods and is no longer burning huge amounts of money with the Cybertruck. According to Musk, Tesla will probably not be able to bring mass production to the targeted level before 2025.
But this is not due to a lack of demand, emphasized Musk. “We have over a million people who have reserved the car,” he explained.
This is all too daring for the financial world. Philippe Houchois, an analyst at Jefferies, said the Cybertruck has already cost Tesla a year of growth and believes the automaker would be better off removing the Cybertruck from its lineup entirely even now.
The expert also justifies this by saying that the Cybertruck is jeopardizing Tesla's lead, which has always driven the company upwards on the stock market.
Houchois concludes: "It looks like Tesla will be stuck in the crawl lane for another 12 to 18 months, unable to capitalize on its rivals' delays while European OEMs launch 25,000 euro electric cars next year to the market and Chinese car manufacturers are setting a new pace with shorter product cycles."
For Tesla, the Cybertruck is also a technology carrier. And so what was already the case with the Model X could repeat itself. Tesla didn't sell much of the large SUV, but learned a lot from its production and the technology installed. The knowledge was later used for the Model 3 and created what is probably the brand's greatest success to date.
Originally - and possibly still - Tesla wanted to use the Cybertruck in the USA to attack a huge market in which the company previously had no place - light commercial vehicles. The Cybertruck is supposed to compete with the likes of the F-150 Lightning or the Silverado EV - and with the alleged pre-orders it also has real chances.
Provided that everyone who pre-orders still wants access after years of waiting. Because the pre-order could be made for just 100 US dollars - whether you then add tens of thousands of dollars is a completely different matter.
But if Tesla doesn't manage to roll the car out of the factory in sufficient quantities and with good quality, a lot is at stake for Musk and his company.
Sources: Handelsblatt, Bloomberg, Electrek, Motley Fool, Teslarati