If Tesla CEO Elon Musk knows what’s good for him — and his bottom line — he’ll arrange a product placement in a Hollywood remake of Smokey and the Bandit, probably starring Ryan Reynolds. Maybe that Stifler guy, if he’s still bankable.
America’s electric-only automaker figures it has the conventional EV passenger car and SUV markets covered, so it’s time to fulfill a promise made last year: trucks. Specifically, a pickup and a semi truck, the first of which is due for an unveiling this year.
As the New York Auto Show hoopla died down on Friday, Musk took to Twitter to give a status update on these products.
“Tesla Semi truck unveil set for September,” the CEO tweeted. “Team has done an amazing job. Seriously next level.”
One can only hope that technicians see fit to pipe C.W. McCall’s ‘Convoy’ into that venue.
The new products are part of Musk’s so-called “Master Plan, Part Deux,” which was detailed in a blog post last July. The details were — and still are — scarce, though he made it clear that an expansion into trucking and transit was a key part of Tesla’s future.
“We believe the Tesla Semi will deliver a substantial reduction in the cost of cargo transport, while increasing safety and making it really fun to operate,” Musk wrote.
It’s hard to guess the range of such a vehicle, its cost, or how long a recharging might take. Long-haul trucking companies seem perfectly happy with their diesel-powered fleets, and gassing up certainly beats juicing up a vast battery pack when lost minutes equal dollars. Still, Musk wouldn’t bother if he didn’t feel a market existed. (Or a usable range was achievable).
To make such a vehicle viable, the country’s recharging network would require an upsizing, both in voltage and in real estate.
“Given the happily consolidated nature of the domestic truck manufacturing market, the prospect of a new competitive threat, from a company with previous success in disrupting established industries nonetheless, is undoubtedly unwelcomed news,” wrote Michael Baudendistel, a Stifel Financial Corp. analyst, in a Monday report.
While the commercial truck world worries about disruption from Tesla, light truck producers are keeping an eye on the EV maker’s second planned product. Musk tweeted that the company’s pickup truck will drop the curtain in 18 to 24 months.
Whether the Tesla pickup will debut as a fullsize or midsize remains to be seen, but both markets are extremely healthy. Still, it’s not likely that someone pining for an entry-level Chevrolet Colorado will hold out for an electric model that promises a higher price and the potential for a lighter payload capacity. Using Tesla’s existing products as a guide, it’s easy to see the truck as a four-door, unibody vehicle, similar to Honda’s Ridgeline.
Green appeal remains a fickle thing, so it might not just be west coast landscapers interested in such a model.