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Business News/ Auto News / The Tesla Cybertruck Is Almost Here. What Will It Cost?
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The Tesla Cybertruck Is Almost Here. What Will It Cost?

wsj

Electric-vehicle maker is expected to provide pricing and driving-range details about its long-delayed truck on Thursday.

The Cybertruck, which drew a crowd in New York City two years ago, features an angular design that is clad in ultrahard stainless steel. Premium
The Cybertruck, which drew a crowd in New York City two years ago, features an angular design that is clad in ultrahard stainless steel.

After a two-year delay, Tesla is finally ready to start delivering its first Cybertruck pickups to customers.

The big questions now for those who have endured the wait: How much will it cost and how far can it travel on a single battery charge?

On Thursday, Chief Executive Elon Musk is expected to provide more specifics on the truck during an event at the company’s Austin, Texas-area plant to mark the official start of sales.

Four years ago, at the truck’s unveiling, Tesla offered a range of prices for the truck, from an entry-level option starting at $39,900 to a top-of-the-line configuration at $69,900. Tesla also said at the time that its highest-end version would be able to travel 500 miles or more on a single battery charge, which would make it one of the longest-range electric vehicles on the market.

Since then, Musk has said pricing and the truck’s specifications would change, citing inflation and other factors. Those comments have left buyers with some unknowns.

The Cybertruck is Tesla’s first new passenger-vehicle model in more than three years, and executives are counting on it to bring new buzz to the brand. Already, Tesla is facing fiercer competition in the EV space, including from automakers such as Ford Motor and Rivian Automotive that have beat Tesla to the market with electric pickups.

The Cybertruck’s unconventional design and reliance on novel technologies have created additional obstacles that have made the truck costly and difficult to build. The launch also comes as automakers are experiencing slowing growth in EV sales and cutting prices.

In October, Musk warned that Tesla would face “enormous challenges" as it works to increase factory output of the truck, adding that it could take more than a year for the vehicle to generate significant cash flow.

That month, Tesla disclosed that it had raised its capital-spending forecast for the year to more than $9 billion, above its initial range. The increase was partly related to costs associated with developing and launching the Cybertruck, according to Deutsche Bank.

Still, buyers have lined up for the sci-fi-inspired truck, whose imposing, angular design Musk has described as “an armored personnel carrier from the future"—one that could have been driven in the 1982 movie “Blade Runner."

More than one million people have placed a reservation for the truck, Musk said in October.

Roger Harding, a former truck driver who lives in Billings, Mont., is among them, having reserved a top-of-the-line Cybertruck in 2019.

He said he is willing to be flexible on price and range—to a point. He would consider spending as much as $100,000 for the truck, as long as it is capable of traveling at least 350 miles on a single charge and has the sports-car-like acceleration Tesla has advertised.

“We’ll see if I need to call my stockbroker or not," Harding said.

With the Cybertruck, Tesla is rolling out relatively new technologies, including a stainless-steel exterior that is unusual for the car industry and larger, cylindrical battery cells that it is making in-house.

The decision to clad the truck in ultra-hard stainless steel has further complicated the launch, in part because the metal has proven difficult to bend and manipulate into body panels, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week.

“I think it is our best product ever," Musk said on the company’s earnings call in October. However, he added, it is going to “require immense work to reach volume production and be cash-flow positive at a price that people can afford."

Ultimately, the company aims to build about 250,000 Cybertruck pickups a year, a target Musk said it isn’t likely to reach before 2025.

The truck’s rollout comes as the company is already confronting slowing sales growth. To entice buyers, it has slashed U.S. starting prices this year by as much as roughly one-third on some models, a move that has pinched profit margins in recent quarters.

With the addition of the Cybertruck, Tesla will have a total of five passenger models in its lineup.

It also has an electric semitrailer truck that is designed for long-haul trucking.

The final pricing on the Cybertruck will be critical in determining how it stacks up to direct competitors.

Rivian’s R1T pickup starts at approximately $73,000. The least costly version of Ford’s F-150 Lightning now starts at roughly $50,000.

The car market has changed sharply since the Cybertruck was first unveiled in 2019.

The average price paid for a new vehicle has soared in recent years, and higher interest rates have further stretched buyers financially. While sales of EVs industrywide are still growing, demand has softened, leading many automakers to heap on discounts to keep unsold cars from stacking up.

Rivian said earlier this year that it was trying to shift more factory production from electric trucks to SUVs, where it says demand has generally been higher. Ford cut prices on its electric Lightning pickup this summer, lowering the starting price by almost $10,000.

Tesla’s delays with the Cybertruck have already prompted some reservation-holders to move on.

Harvey Payne, who has driven a Model X sport-utility vehicle for years, placed a reservation for Tesla’s Cybertruck in 2020 and one for Rivian’s R1T in 2022.

This fall, after “radio silence" from Tesla about its truck, the extended-range version of the R1T that Payne was considering became available. He picked it up on Tuesday.

“I figure I’m at least two years down the queue before I’d ever see a truck," Payne said of Tesla’s Cybertruck. “I needed something now."

Write to Rebecca Elliott at rebecca.elliott@wsj.com

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