Survey and Analysis: The Tesla Cybertruck
In November of last year, Tesla announced the release of the Cybertruck, the company’s all-electric pickup truck and the automaker’s sixth vehicle since its founding. The truck’s reception was initially lukewarm with critics describing it as “Blade Runner-esque” and “pointy” with a stainless-steel exterior and a triangular roof.
Nonetheless, Tesla is a luxury brand, associated more with indulgence than functionality. This calls into question the company’s motivation for entering a marketplace that appears a few steps removed from its established customer base.
To evaluate the marketplace for the Cybertruck, GLG identified a panel of current pickup truck owners and asked them about their sentiments regarding Tesla’s offering. We also leveraged GLG’s best-in-class expert network, partnering with our Council Member, Tom Croskey, the former Executive Director Manufacturing Strategy and Planning at General Motors, to help put the survey data in context.
While Tesla’s strong 4Q19 production and delivery number helped regain some investor confidence (TSLA market value above $100 billion), bearish investors would likely point to the company’s inconsistent execution historically; therefore with three new vehicles (Model Y, Cybertruck and Roadster) in the pipeline, it will be interesting to see how quickly Tesla can bring the Cybertruck to market.
Interest in the Cybertruck
Many of our respondents knew about Tesla’s cyber truck offering.
Are you familiar with Tesla’s new launch of their pickup truck?
Among those we surveyed, a significant percentage (43%) said they’re either extremely or very interested in purchasing a Cybertruck.
How interested are you in purchasing the Tesla Cybertruck upon its release in 2021?
Extremely interested 19%
Very interested 24%
Very uninterested 12%
Extremely uninterested 21%
Income and the Propensity to Buy
When broken down by income, a little over 30% of those with a household income of $75,000 or higher, and who currently own a pickup truck, said that they are likely to purchase a Cybertruck, versus just 21% percent of households in the lower demographic.
30% of respondents in the higher-income tiers who are also current pickup truck owners indicated they are “Likely” or “Very Likely” to purchase a CyberTruck.
21% of respondents in the lower-income tiers who are also current pickup truck owners indicated they are “Likely” or “Very Likely” to purchase a CyberTruck.
Unsurprisingly, the numbers reinforce the fact the Cybertruck is targeted towards higher-income individuals. “There’s not much Tesla can do here when it comes to reaching people with lower income,” said Croskey, “When they’re buying a vehicle, their top purchase criteria is price. It is going to be difficult to get down and get those lower-income buyers.”
Croskey is also doubtful that the higher income numbers are completely reflective of the truth: “You have to consider that respondents are much more aggressive on what they are ‘interested in buying,’ than what they typically buy and pay in the marketplace. Answers like this sometimes come from a wish list rather than a firm financial commitment.”
Among the respondents interested in Tesla’s offering, 54% identified “mileage range” as an important feature.
Croskey points out, in their purchase decision, customers will have to consider that the Cybertruck’s specified range for non-towing trips (Single Motor RWD = +250 miles; Dual Motor AWD = +300 miles; and Tri Motor AWD = +500 miles, according to Tesla’s website) is likely much lower when drivers are towing. Towing capacity scores low among those interested in a Cybertruck (29%).
What features about the Tesla Cybertruck are you most interested in?
Mileage range 54%
Electronic vehicle (EV) 51%
Price point 31%
Safety features 49%
Large cabin size 39%
Towing capacity 29%
Technology features 35%
Croskey says, “There’s no doubt Tesla is a leader in battery and efficiency performance. Competing electric trucks like Ford and GM will be close, but not likely equal. Consumers are going to be concerned about things like towing capacity and range because while Tesla has announced range and towing and hauling capacities for their vehicle, they haven’t blended those attributes.
“For example, a 300-mile EV battery range in the non-towing mode actually equates to about 100-mile range when towing. What’s your risk profile on range anxiety there? Range anxiety is basically the equivalent of the fear of running out of charge, it’s the mileage buffer you leave between your position and the nearest charging station.
“If I’m going cross-country – and I might only want to fast charge because I can fast charge in less than an hour, the last 20% of a charge takes significantly longer than the first 80% – that leaves me with an 80-mile range. If I use five or 10 miles for range anxiety, my towing range drops to 75, 60 miles. The truth is that EV trucks, whether it’s Tesla or Ford, will have significantly less towing capacity and range than a traditional internal combustion vehicle.
“The fact that over half of the survey respondents said the top thing they want to understand about the Tesla was mileage range tells me that is the issue that all the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will need to think about.”
Preorders and Sales
Elon Musk has said there have been 250,000 pre-orders for the Cybertruck, a significant number that may not play out in real sales. “I’m not that surprised by this number,” Croskey said. “But the deposits are returnable – and a lot less than the company asked for a Model 3 or Model S. I believe the conversion rate will be much less.”
About Tom Croskey
Tom Croskey was the Executive Director of Manufacturing Strategy and Planning at General Motors from March 2010 – September 2017. In that role, he was responsible for determining the location for GM manufacturing sites, and allocation of products. He also enabled effective site sections through profit and cost projections. He handled tariff and foreign exchange implications, handled JV divestiture negotiations and leveraged GM’s growth and global footprint to lower manufacturing costs.
This article is based on a survey of pickup truck owners conducted late in 2019. The information provided is for informational purposes only. The findings are not representative of the industry, rather an illustration of a sample drawn from an existing panel of consumers.
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