Interest in Elon Musk’s radical and polarising Cybertruck is going wild, with 250,000 pre-orders now taken for the all-electric utility truck since its launch last Friday.
On Monday, the Tesla CEO and co-founder announced that in the first two days, 146,000 orders had been taken, then 187,000 as of Monday morning (Australian time), then 200,000 that afternoon.
On Wednesday, Musk announced 250,000 pre-orders – which require a fully refundable deposit of just $US100 a ($A150 in Australia) had been taken.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 27, 2019
And it could be more, according to reservation trackers who are using social media channels and forums to estimate the numbers of orders taken, such as @Alterviggo‘s Cybertruck orders chart that on Monday suggested pre-orders were reaching the vicinity of 220,000.
— Alter Viggo (@AlterViggo) November 25, 2019
The interest is significant, given the disruptive nature of the design of the Cybertruck compared to traditional utility trucks (known as utes in Australia and pick-ups in the US), and it suggests that confidence and trust in Tesla remains high.
And with numerous innovative features from its 9mm bulletproof steel exoskeleton, armoured glass, adaptive suspension, on-board power sockets, and the ability to charge an electric bike or ATV parked in its tray off the vehicle’s battery, it is perhaps easy to see why the Cybertruck has attracted so many pre-orders.
More importantly, the starting price is low, from $US39,990 ($A59,018) for the base single motor version to $69,900 ($103,293) for the top-level tri-motor version.
When Tesla announced the “mass-market” Model 3 electric sedan in 2016, interest was so high that the Californian car maker declared it was “the week that electric vehicles went mainstream”.
Model 3 garnered 325,000 reservations within the first week, collecting some $US14 billion ($20.66 billion) in $US1,000 pre-orders (these cost $A1,500 in Australia).
Since then, it has led the electric transition in the US, Europe and to a lesser extent China (where a healthy EV industry is already flourishing), and in Australia, the arrival of the Model 3 has doubled the EV market share of the laggard auto market ,which is in its 20th month decline in ICE sales.
And as Tesla noted at the time, “This interest has spread completely organically. Unlike other major product launches, we haven’t advertised or paid for any endorsements.”
And therein lies the gold: Tesla has created another vehicle that has the potential to upturn the auto market in ways that legacy car makers only dream.
The Cybertruck does have some question marks, and commentators note that it is more prototype than production vehicle.
There are no rear vision mirrors (does it need them, will it use cameras and sensors instead?), no window wipers (Tesla has just submitted a patent for a novel approach to keeping glass clean that could perhaps be used for solar panels as well as car window glass), and no indicators stalks (one test driver on the launch night noted this will be done via a touchscreen display).
Australia’s ANCAP safety chief James Goodwin has also questioned the safety of the vehicle, which is made of “undentable” 30x cold-rolled stainless steel, because it of the lack of crumple zones and the angular rake design could be more dangerous to pedestrians.