The long-awaited Tesla pickup truck will finally be unveiled on Nov. 21 near the SpaceX rocket factory in Los Angeles, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced on Twitter.
Musk has said the electric truck, which was first announced in 2013, will have a starting price of less than $50,000. He has also claimed it will be a better truck than a Ford F-150 and a better sports car than a Porsche 911. It is not entirely clear, however, if those attributes can be expected in one version of the truck or if customers will be able to choose one or two out of the three: price, performance and/or hauling.
The design of the truck is likely to be off-putting to many traditional pickup buyers, Musk has warned. A teaser image released by Tesla shows a line of light coming out of what appears to be the truck’s hood.
Pickup trucks are the best-selling vehicles in America. The Ford F-series, in particular, has been the number one selling vehicle in America for more than 40 years. Pickup truck buyers are famously loyal to their favorite brands of trucks, though. Japanese automakers, Toyota and Nissan, both produce full-size trucks that compete with those from Ford, GM and Fiat Chrysler, but neither has made significant inroads against their Michigan-based rivals in the US market.
Ford (F) is also working on an all-electric F-150. Shortly after Musk said the Tesla truck would be “better than an F-150,” Ford (F) released a video showing a prototype electric F-150 pulling a line of freight train cars weighing over 1 million pounds.
General Motors, too, is working on an electric pickup.
Another Michigan-based company, Rivian, is also coming out with an electric pickup targeted at off-road and camping enthusiasts. Ford is a major investor in Rivian.
While pickup enthusiasts are brand loyal and may prefer to stick with well-established truck makers, like GM’s Chevrolet and Fiat Chrysler’s Ram, Tesla has more experience making electric vehicles and could be a real competitor, said Michael Harley, an auto analyst with Kelley Blue Book.
“If I were the Big Three truck makers at this point, I would be concerned,” said Harley. “Because, remember, nobody ever expected Elon Musk’s Model 3 to disrupt BMW Audi, and those guys, you know, now it’s outselling all three of those brands.”
Truck buyers are very different from luxury car buyers, though, Harley said. The most likely outcome, he said, is that Tesla will sell some trucks but not seriously threaten the domination of Ford, Ram and Chevrolet.