Tesla's Cybertruck is finally coming. It's going to rattle rivals and transform the EV market as we know it.
The Cybertruck is set to be "the Hummer of the 2020s."
The futuristic-looking truck is going to redefine what a pickup truck can look like.
Tesla's entry into the pickup-truck market could be exactly what the segment needs.
Tesla is finally ready to enter the most lucrative vehicle segment in the US: pickup trucks.
The long-awaited Cybertruck, which was revealed to much fanfare and with a shattered window in 2019, is finally heading to production this year. The Cybertruck's arrival is expected to shake up the electric-pickup-truck market — and the entire stalwart truck market — with its arresting design and high-tech features.
In the years since the Cybertruck reveal, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, has slowly dripped out details on the truck. He has previously claimed that the Cybertruck will be able to "serve briefly as a boat," and feature rear-wheel steering. It's unclear how many of these promised features will reach final production, but experts have said that it's always safe to say Tesla will push the boundaries on what their cars can do.
"This is a vehicle that competes against everybody and nobody," Ivan Drury, an automotive analyst for the car-shopping website Edmunds, said. "If the Cybertruck comes to fruition looking like it did at the debut, that should be more than enough — everything else from tech and features is just icing on the cake."
Earlier this week, Musk confirmed that the Cybertruck is slated to go on sale later this year. It will be Tesla's first completely new product in three years, coming at a time when both Tesla and the pickup-truck market at large desperately need an injection of excitement and new ideas.
"This is an imperative move for Tesla to turn around the growing image that they're becoming a very traditional automaker," Drury said. From stale designs to discounts and incentives, Tesla's critics have accused the company of losing its disruptor luster in the last year.
Cybertruck will be the Hummer of the 2020s
The boxy and futuristic design of the Cybertruck is unlike anything the automotive industry has ever seen, experts have said. It's designed to appeal to a very specific type of status-seeker — video-game enthusiasts, tech nerds, people who love 80s movies — and any drivers who want to turn heads on the street.
Creating a crazy-looking car for a new set of buyers is similar to what Hummer did for SUVs in the 90s, Drury said.
Hummer was a giant, impractical vehicle with a tank-like design that became a status symbol. It turned a previously utilitarian SUV segment into a space where car companies could still attract enthusiasts and luxury-minded buyers.
"The Cybertruck is going to be the Hummer of the 2020s," Drury said. "It's a car that's going to let people live out a new, bizarre dream of what their vehicle can be."
Why rivals should both fear and revere the Cybertruck
If Tesla is about to redefine what a pickup truck can look like and who it can appeal to, that's going to be huge for the pickup-truck market. For years, this lucrative market has played by strict rules for design, capability, and features to placate an extremely loyal buyer base.
Only a disruptor like Tesla could change that playbook, Karl Brauer, an executive analyst for iSeeCars, said.
"This is going to be an extremely disruptive moment for what is normally a very stable and conservative segment of the automotive market," Brauer said. "This is going to be Tesla's take on the pickup truck, which is enough on its own, and competitors should be very wary of that."
At the same time, he said, Tesla is likely to create entirely new truck buyers, attracting rabid Tesla fans who have never owned a pickup truck before as well as flashy buyers who want to be seen in a truck as unique as the Cybertruck, Brauer said.
That is good for Tesla in the short term because it guarantees buyers for this crucial product, but also a boon to the entire truck market. Shopping for a Cybertruck could turn a customer who never even considered buying a truck into someone who ends up test driving or buying an F-150 Lightning, Brauer said.
"There's going to be a lot of reconsideration for people on these cars when the Cybertruck hits," he said.
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