Elon Musk’s cybertruck is already a production nightmare for Tesla


The Cybertruck hasn’t even hit the market yet, and Elon Musk already is lamenting that Tesla Inc. has dug its own grave.


Its stainless steel body may be able to withstand bullets and arrows, but it’s going to be a bear putting the panels together. It will be Tesla’s first high-voltage vehicle, offering the benefit of faster charging, but also potential pitfalls. And it will be Tesla’s only product dependent on in-house battery cells that are years behind schedule.


In these respects and others, the Cybertruck will be a big step backward from how Tesla has progressed in its approach to carmaking. The last vehicle Musk spoke about the way he described the Cybertruck was the Model X, the sport utility vehicle that’s never reached high volumes because of what its chief executive officer described on several occasions as hubris.

“Model X became kind of like a technology bandwagon of every cool thing we could imagine all at once,” Musk said of the SUV in May 2017. “That is a terrible strategy. You really want to start off simple and add things over time.”


Emphasis on simplicity and designing for ease of manufacturing served Tesla well with its next product, the Model 3 sedan, and the smash-hit Model Y SUV that followed. The two were the first electric vehicles to break into the mainstream, making Tesla far and away the most valuable automaker and its CEO the world’s wealthiest man. Musk remarked when the Model 3 was starting production in 2017 that it wouldn’t have “all sorts of bells and whistles” like the Model X, which featured double-hinged doors and floating second-row seats.


Last month, on the same earnings call where Musk referred to Tesla digging its own grave, he warned that the Cybertruck “has a lot of bells and whistles.”


Tesla may eventually overcome what its CEO has described as enormous challenges making the Cybertruck in high volumes, and without burning through cash. But Musk himself has estimated this will take 12 to 18 months of “blood, sweat and tears”.   He’s also said Tesla is unlikely to reach an annualised production rate of 250,000 Cybertrucks until sometime in 2025.


Ahead of the company starting Cybertruck deliveries, one analyst has gone so far as to suggest the company should cancel the vehicle, saying it probably would be positive for Tesla’s shares.


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