SAN FRANCISCO: Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said Saturday the company has amassed 146,000 orders for its Cybertruck, less than 48 hours after the polarising vehicle was first shown amid shattered glass.
The electric-car maker has a history of unveiling future products to throngs of excited customers, taking deposits, and then delivering years later.
Two years ago, Tesla showed off a Semi truck and a next-generation Roadster sports car, but neither vehicle is in production yet. This spring, Musk unveiled the Model Y crossover; that vehicle is slated to begin production next summer.
Tesla’s website allows customers to order the electric truck for a fully refundable US$100, and says they can complete their configuration “as production nears in late 2021”.
Musk said in a tweet that 42% had ordered the dual-motor option, which starts at US$49,900, while 41% have ordered the US$69,900 triple-motor option, production of which is expected to begin in late 2022.
Just 17% ordered the single-motor version, which begins at US$39,900.
The US$100 deposit for the Cybertruck is far cheaper than the US$1,000 that was required to reserve a Model 3 sedan.
Tesla’s reservation lists have long been a source of intrigue for investors, analysts, journalists, fans and sceptics of the company, as it’s often used as a proxy for demand.
But Tesla itself stopped giving reservation figures on its quarterly earnings calls, saying the metric wasn’t relevant.
“Reservations are not relevant for us,” former Chief Financial Officer Deepak Ahuja said in January, during the company’s 2018 fourth-quarter earnings call.
“Now we do have a large reservations backlog still, which tells us that a lot of customers are still waiting for those cars. But I don’t think it’s appropriate to share the reservations number.”
Tesla never released an order or reservation figure for the Model Y. The company had US$665 million in customer deposits as of Sept 30, according to a regulatory filing.
In a demonstration of the truck’s toughness, long-time Tesla lead designer Franz von Holzhausen whacked the Cybertruck’s stainless steel door with a mallet, showing that it couldn’t be dented.
But when he threw a metallic ball at the driver side front window, it shattered.
The crowd gasped. “Oh my f—ing god,” said Musk. “Maybe that was a little too hard.”
So von Holzhausen tried a second, softer throw – this time targeting the truck’s rear window – only to see that shatter as well.
It wasn’t immediately clear who supplied the glass or if Tesla made what it called “Armor Glass” completely in-house. Tesla entered the glass technology business back in 2016, and has an internal group known as Tesla Glass.
Musk said his team threw the same steel ball at the window several times before the event and didn’t even scratch the glass. Late Friday, he tweeted out a short video of von Holzhausen that has been viewed more than 5.2 million times.
The angular, futuristic design and the shattering glass generated enormous publicity for Tesla and its truck, but shares tumbled 6.1% to US$333.04 Friday, the sharpest decline in almost two months.