'A niche product at best'

'A niche product at best'

Tesla Cybertruck

The Tesla Cybertruck doesn't have a seperate body and frame, like most trucks. Instead, it's strength comes from its metal skin, Elon Musk said.

Tesla's new electric truck won't be without some stiff competition. It's going up against the two market leaders in full-size trucks in America. Ford is developing its own electric F-series truck, while General Motors, which makes Chevrolet and GMC pickups, also has its own electric pickups in the works. Earlier Thursday, GM CEO Mary Barra said the auto maker expects to begin selling its electric pickup in the fall of 2021.

Rivian, a Michigan-based start up also plans to begin selling its own electric pickup next year. The company counts Amazon and Ford as major investors. Rivian founder, R.J. Scaringe, ranked third on this year's just-released Motor Trend Power List, a largely subjective ranking of relative auto industry mojo. Musk ranked 24th. Rivian's trucks will cost tens of thousands of dollars more then Tesla's, but they will look far more like trucks.

The market potential for Tesla's truck remains somewhat of a mystery. There has, to date, been little overlap between full-size pickup truck buyers and Tesla buyers. For instance, Teslas and other electric cars sell well on America's coasts, while large pickups sell best in the Midwest.

Also, Tesla's Cybertruck looks nothing like a traditional pickup. Truck buyers may want to stand out, but it's unclear they'll be comfortable with standing out quite so much.

"It will be a niche product at best and poses no threat in the pickup market as we know it today. The other downside is that this truck will have no federal tax credits by the time it comes out," said Matt DeLorenzo, senior executive editor at Kelley Blue Book.

Musk has said in the past that the pickup is something of a personal pet project and he doesn't care much if few people actually want to buy it.

Chelsea Sexton, an analyst who covers the electric vehicle market, said she doesn't believe the truck Musk showed is very close to the final production vehicle.

"From a specification standpoint, I believe that's probably what they're aiming for but, no question, that body style that is not a high volume product," she said.

Production will begin in late 2021, with production of the Tri Motor AWD version of the Cybertruck beginning a year later, according to Tesla.

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