Tesla will begin producing its much-delayed electric pickup, the Cybertruck, next year along with many other new products, the automaker’s chief executive Elon Musk said Thursday evening.
The truck, with an angular design and stainless steel skin that sets it apart from traditional pickup trucks, was delayed after an inauspicious unveiling in 2019 when a designer threw a metal ball at a window in what was supposed to be a demonstration of the robustness of the vehicle.
Instead, the window cracked.
“We’re gonna break the glass again,” Mr. Musk joked as a Cybertruck rolled onto the stage during a lavish “Cyber Rodeo” hosted by Tesla in Austin, Texas, to show off its new factory near the state capital.
“We can’t wait to build this here,” Musk, wearing a black cowboy hat, said of the truck. “Sorry for the delay. But you’re going to have this next year, and it’s going to be really awesome.
The Tesla CEO has a long history of promising products coming to fruition later than he announced or not at all, but his timeline for the Cybertruck is more specific than the one he gave investors in January, when he said delivery in 2023 was “probably.”
Cybertruck production delays have allowed rivals to hit the market earlier with pickup trucks, one of the most popular vehicle types in the United States. Ford is expected to begin shipping the Lightning, a battery-powered version of its F-150, this summer. Rivian’s electric pickup went on sale late last year to rave reviews, but the company has struggled to ramp up production, a common problem for new automakers.
Tesla invited around 15,000 people to the Cyber Rodeo, which Mr Musk, with his usual hyperbole, called “the biggest party on earth”. The factory is as big as three Pentagons, he said.
Local schools closed early so parents could avoid traffic jams caused by those flocking to the event, broadcaster KXAN reported. Actor Harrison Ford was among the guests. Tesla parked red, white and blue cars in formation to resemble the Texas state flag.
The factory is part of a global Tesla expansion that includes a recently opened factory near Berlin. With an existing factory in Shanghai, the new assembly lines could help the company repeat its growth in 2021, when it nearly doubled sales to nearly one million vehicles, far outpacing other major automakers.
“This year is all about scaling up,” Musk said. “Next year there will be a massive wave of new products.”
In 2023, Tesla will also produce a roadster, a semi-truck and “hopefully” the first version of a humanoid robot called Optimus, which Mr Musk says will do “everything humans won’t want to do”. He added that a beta version of the fully autonomous driving software would be available to North American customers this year.