Tesla’s ambitious new experiment – the “Cybertruck” – was unveiled last week on Thursday, 21 November 2019 to a mixed response. Amid polarised online reactions to the new electric pick-up truck, with both the good and not so good media stories coming out of the launch and its following days, the market is trying to figure out whether this is actually a product with legs.
Here’s a quick summary of five things that happened which you should know before you buy Tesla stock or pre-order your Cybertruck.
- The space age arrived
Perhaps, the most surprising moment of a headline-grabbing launch was the look of the truck itself. Unlike anything seen before on terrestrial roads, let alone vehicles which are available on Tesla’s production line, the Cybertruck looks like it drove right out of an 80s sci-fi. Which it kind of did! Though, many people online have compared it to the DeLorean of ‘Back To The Future’ fame (which was, ironically, a failed venture in its day), celebrity CEO of Tesla Elon Musk has also mentioned ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ as inspirations for the design.
Along with the doubts that have been raised about the strange look, some analysts have pointed out that this showroom version is probably not roadworthy in the US, given it has no side-view mirrors and potentially no crumple zone. However, no information about the production model has yet been given, leaving buyers potentially unsure of what exactly they’re getting. The extremely utilitarian design may have prices down to a surprising low of USD39,900 for the cheapest model, but the jury is out on whether such an ostentatious look can attract the traditional US pick-up truck buyer.
- The windows shattered
If the pictures of the Cybertruck were odd enough for any product launch, they were about to get weirder.
In a press conference that has since gone viral, Tesla attempted to demonstrate the durability of the reinforced vehicle with a demonstration in which a steel ball was thrown at the window. The demonstration ended in a catastrophe. However, when the ball shattered the window not once, but on both the attempts, Musk gave the rest of the conference standing in front of a seriously worse-for-wear car, the only upside of which was, as pointed out by Musk, “at least the ball didn’t go through.”
- The share market was not impressed
As images of Musk’s gobsmacked expression spread around the globe, investors started shedding his company’s stock. The share price for Tesla fell 6% on the day of the presentation and have continued to slide downwards to a low of 327 USD on Tuesday. Analysts point towards the combined effect of the failed demonstration and the experimental appearance of the car for the shareholders anxiety. However, taking the longer-term view, the stock is still trading at some of its highest prices for the year, compared with a very poor second quarter when the price fell below USD180. Without any new product launches on the horizon, Musk will need something else to turn his stakeholder’s confidence around.
- The pre-order numbers
The press conference launched not only the Cybertruck concept, but also pre-orders for the vehicle, which opened last week for a $100 refundable fee. Musk announced via Twitter on Saturday, 23 November 2019 that Tesla had received 146k pre-orders within 2 days, and 200K by the end of the week. It seems that consumers were not daunted by the media’s chilly reception of the new product, or the fact that it isn’t slated for production until late 2021. This disconnect between buyer’s interest and the share price suggests that stakeholders may have underestimated Mr Musk’s knowledge of his market.
- Cybertruck vs. Ford F-150 Tow Battle
Everything we have discussed until now was all that happened last week. This week, it’s about the battle of the trucks. Musk and co. took the Cybertruck prototype out for a field test, in which they fastened it up to the leading soon-to-be competitor – Ford’s F-150 – and videoed the Cybertruck towing it uphill, while the Ford tried driving the other way.
The impressive display has been met with some scepticism online, with some pointing out that the display is more of a contest of mass than horsepower (if Tesla is significantly heavier than the F-150, then the relative torque and engines of each will have far less bearing on the contest than its weight).
However, no one was more sceptic than Ford themselves, with one executive taking to twitter to ask for a Cybertruck with which they would repeat the test under fairer conditions, to which Musk responded, “Bring it on.”
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