Starting at $60,990, Tesla’s Cybertruck is 50% more expensive than initial estimates

Nov 30 (Reuters) – Tesla’s ( TSLA.O ) long-delayed Cybertruck will start at $60,990, 50% more than CEO Elon Musk said it would in 2019, and appeal to select, affluent buyers, analysts said.

Musk said the truck, designed in the form of shiny stainless steel and flat planes, was inspired in part by a car-turned-submarine in the 1977 James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me.”

Its new body materials and unconventional, futuristic styling have added complexity and costs to production, and threaten to alienate utility-focused traditional pickup truck buyers, experts say.

But Musk, who priced the vehicle’s three variants at $60,990 to $99,990, said Thursday that the Cybertruck is “more useful than a truck” and “faster than a sports car.”

He drove the Cybertruck on a stage to cheers from the crowd, then handed off the vehicles to about a dozen customers at an event in Austin, Texas.

“Finally, the future looks like the future,” he said of the truck’s design, showing a video of the Cybertruck towing a Porsche 911 and defeating another gasoline-powered 911 in a short race.

Tesla shares fell 2% in extended trading after ending up 1.6% at $240.08.

Musk did not announce prices for the vehicle at the event, but Tesla’s website listed the prices. Its highest performance variant, the ‘Cyberbeast’, will be available next year, as will an all-wheel drive trim priced at $80,000.

A cheaper rear-wheel drive version will be available in 2025 with an estimated starting price of around $61,000.

“It definitely appeals to an affluent clientele, and they want something unique and quirky,” said Jessica Caldwell, head of insights at auto research firm Edmonds.

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“It’s not a large segment of the population that can afford it, especially where interest rates are.”

After Musk estimated in 2019 that the Cyberdrug would sell for $40,000, the vehicle attracted more than a million pre-order holders, who put down $100 deposits. Despite rising raw material costs for EVs, he did not provide updated pricing before Monday.

The new deposit is $250, Musk said Thursday.

The price didn’t come as a surprise to many, said Paul Wattie, an analyst at AutoPacific Consulting. Wattie told Reuters before the event that Cyberdrug would work best with smaller audiences.

A grandstanding showpiece

The Cybertruck, two years behind schedule, is entering the hot pickup truck market to compete with the likes of Ford’s ( FN ) F150 Lightning, Rivian Automotive’s ( RIVN.O ) R1T and General Motors’ ( GM.N ) Hummer EV.

The Rivian’s R1T has a starting price of $73,000, while the F-150 Lightning starts at around $50,000. The larger and more powerful Hummer EV pickup costs more than $96,000.

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The Cybertruck, Tesla’s first new model in nearly four years, is critical to its reputation as a maker of innovative vehicles. At a time when the company is grappling with softening electric vehicle (EV) demand and increasing competition, the Cybertruck is also important for generating sales, if not to the extent of the company’s high-volume Models 3 and Y.

Kasturi lowered investors’ expectations last month, citing problems ramping up production and warned it would take a year to 18 months to make a significant cash flow contribution.

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Ahead of the launch, Musk drew media attention for another matter, giving a scandal-filled interview to the New York Times on Wednesday. He cursed advertisers who left his social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, with anti-Semitic comments.

On Thursday, he said of the truck: “It’s basically an incredibly useful truck. It’s not some big showpiece like me.”

An unimpressive range

The longest version of the Cybertruck can drive 340 miles (547 km), and comes with a “range extender,” or additional battery pack, that extends its range to 470 miles.

In 2019, Musk said the truck could travel 500 miles or more on a single charge.

“A truck, Ford and Chevy are more useful and certainly easier to see out,” said Sam Abulsamid, principal research analyst at Guidehouse Insights.

“I don’t expect a very long-range version of the Cybertruck to reach more than 300 miles on the road, as Teslas are always underestimated (range) by 10%-20% in the real world,” he said. Chevrolet notes that the Silverado EV is capable of exceeding its 450-mile rated range.

Musk said that Tesla will reach a production rate of about 250,000 Cybertrucks a year by 2025. He did not update it on Thursday.

During its 2019 unveiling, Tesla’s chief designer Franz von Holzhausen took a metal ball to demonstrate the truck’s unbreakable “shield glass” window, only to have it shatter.

Holzhausen hit a baseball through the Cybertruck window on Thursday.

Reporting by Akash Sriram in Bengaluru and Hyunjoo Jin and Abhirup Roy in San Francisco; Written by Sayantani Ghosh; Editing by Bill Bergrod, Peter Henderson and Deepa Babington

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Akash reports on technology companies, electric vehicle companies and the aerospace industry in the US. His reporting usually appears in the autos and transportation and technology sections. He holds a Masters in Conflict, Development and Security from the University of Leeds. Akash’s interests include music, football (soccer) and Formula 1.

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