14 December 2023

With the delivery of the first Cybertrucks in late November, Tesla stands ready to spearhead not just a bold departure from conventional pickup truck aesthetics but a potentially revolutionary shift in the electric vehicle (EV) industry.

With its angular, geometric form, the Cybertruck redefines the look of what a pickup truck can be, yes. But more importantly, the Cybertruck represents Tesla’s audacious attempt to not only establish an entirely new automotive segment by challenging consumers to reimagine the possibilities of pickup trucks but to reshape the EV market itself by expanding that market beyond its typical customer base, propel electric trucks into the mainstream, and defend Tesla’s role as the leading disruptive innovator in the EV industry.

What is Innovative About the Cybertruck?

Several innovative technical features make Cybertruck stand out from both other EVs and from other electric pickups.

The Cybertruck seats six passengers, can tow more than 11,000 pounds, and has unique features that include a corrosion-proof stainless-steel body and bullet-proof windows.¹

But more than that, Cybertruck is built on a new 800-volt architecture. Unlike Tesla’s sedan models, which all use a 400-volt battery and powertrain, the 800-volt battery will mean faster charging speeds and greater total charge (350 KW from a 400-volt system versus the current 250KW for other Tesla models) as well as higher efficiency for Cybertruck.²

Cybertruck also doubles down on Tesla’s drive to move the entire EV industry to a 48-volt (48V) electrical standard and away from the 12V systems in current use. A move to 48V would, ironically, mean far less complex wiring for vehicles than in a 12V system because each wire can supply more power, and it could revolutionize not just the overall electrical efficiency of cars and trucks, but fundamentally reshape how automakers engineer their vehicles.

As part of this push, shortly after the delivery of the first Cybertrucks, Tesla shared its 48V plans for use by other major automakers, including their competitors.³

The Cybertruck also features a new steer-by-wire system, meaning there is no physical connection between the steering wheel and the drive wheels, so maneuvers like a U-turn can be accomplished with minimal movement and no need for hand-over-hand turning.⁴

Cybertruck as EV Game-Changer

But more than its technical innovations, according to automotive analyst Ivan Drury, the Tesla Cybertruck has the potential to be a genuine game-changer in the EV market. Beyond merely challenging existing technology and existing automakers, Drury suggests that the Cybertruck redefines the parameters of EV competition by appealing to a diverse range of consumers.

“This is a vehicle that competes against everybody and nobody,” says Drury, highlighting how Cybertruck transcends traditional categorization. He points out that Cybertruck incorporates cutting-edge technology and features that set it apart from conventional pickups, positioning it beyond the typical truck-buying demographic and appealing to a broader audience.⁵

Karl Brauer, an executive analyst for iSeeCars, agrees. “This is going to be an extremely disruptive moment for what is normally a very stable and conservative segment of the automotive market,” says Brauer, pointing out that the Cybertruck could be what propels electric trucks into the mainstream, challenging established norms and reshaping consumer expectations in the process.⁶ With over 2 million preorders for the Cybertruck, if just 15% of those reservations convert to sales, it would equal the entire annual U.S. truck sales of Toyota.⁷

And so it is not only Tesla enthusiasts who eagerly anticipate the widespread availability of the Cybertruck. The entire EV pickup truck segment could benefit from the appeal of Cybertruck, with the vehicle influencing the choices of pickup truck buyers who might consider alternatives from other automakers, including Ford, Rivian, and Chevrolet. The truck market, traditionally fairly staid, could be poised for transformation as the Cybertruck emerges as a trendsetter, creating a segment that blends innovation, style, and functionality.⁸

Cybertruck as a Strategic Move for Tesla

Tesla’s foray into pickup trucks is not merely a play for a new market segment and an expanded customer base. It is also a strategic move for the company as it aims to redefine its image as a disruptor in the automotive industry.

The Cybertruck and its accompanying innovations are a way for Tesla to meet head-on the claims by critics that they are in danger of becoming just another traditional automaker and that they have lost the disruptive edge that has made them the leader in the EV space.

It’s important to remember that, despite increasing competition in EVs, Tesla maintains a commanding position, particularly in the United States. Even as industry stalwarts such as Ford, GM, and Volkswagen make strides in introducing more plug-in models and fortifying their EV production lines, recent data shows that Tesla still held 56.5% of the U.S. market from January through October.⁹

As Tesla navigates tactics like price cuts, increased marketing spending, and dealer-like incentives to maintain its market share, the Cybertruck emerges as a crucial player in both the company’s strategy to address its current needs as well as advance—and disrupt—the entire EV industry.

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  1. Brooks, K.J., “Tesla’s new Cybertruck, starting at $60,990, has arrived,” CBS News, November 30, 2023; https://www.cbsnews.com/news/tesla-cybertruck-cost-release-date-price/
  2. Aregay, T., “Tesla Confirms Cybertruck Details: 800-Volt, 14’’ Suspension Travel, 125,000 Production Capacity & November Delivery,” TorqueNews, October 19, 2023; https://www.torquenews.com/11826/tesla-confirms-cybertruck-details-800-volt-14-suspension-travel-125000-production-capacity
  3. Ruddock, D,. “Tesla shares 48V architecture with other automakers to move the industry,” Electrek, December 7, 2023; https://electrek.co/2023/12/07/tesla-shares-48v-architecture-with-other-automakers-to-move-the-industry/
  4. Iliff, L., “10 cool Tesla Cybertruck features and innovations,” Automotive News, December 14, 2023; https://www.autonews.com/cars-concepts/tesla-cybertruck-full-cool-features-and-technology
  5. Naughton, N., “Tesla’s Cybertruck is finally coming. It’s going to rattle rivals and transform the EV market as we know it,” Business Insider, May 21, 2023; https://www.businessinsider.com/teslas-cybertruck-impact-ev-market-2023-5
  6. Ibid
  7. Reid, C., “The Cybertruck Must Be Huge—or It Will Dig Tesla’s Grave,” Wired, December 1, 2023; https://www.wired.com/story/tesla-cybertruck-success-failure/
  8. Naughton, N., “Tesla’s Cybertruck is finally coming. It’s going to rattle rivals and transform the EV market as we know it,” Business Insider, May 21, 2023; https://www.businessinsider.com/teslas-cybertruck-impact-ev-market-2023-5
  9. St. John, A. & Naughton, N., “Tesla’s losing ground in the EV market and its future all hinges on the Cybertruck,” Business Insider, November 29, 2023; https://www.businessinsider.com/tesla-ev-market-share-slipping-all-depends-on-cybertruck-2023-10
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