Now that people know what the Tesla Cybertruck looks like and how much it costs, they must be asking how many the company will be able to deliver. Or when the production will start. The reveal event provided no answers to any of these questions. Anyway, it is at the bottom of the pre-order page. And it says:
“You will be able to complete your configuration as production nears in late 2021. Tri Motor AWD production is expected to begin in late 2022.”
It’s unfortunate that we did not learn anything in regard to the production of the truck in terms of volume or location. However, we did take a guess at all of this prior to the grand reveal and you can read that in unaltered form (unchanged following the debut) below.
Our production predictions prior to Cybertruck debut
It would not make sense to produce the electric pickup truck in any other country other than the US. It is the biggest market for this sort of vehicle. Apart from that, the Chicken Tax would also make it even harder for the Cybertruck to compete with gasoline and diesel vehicles.
All this makes Fremont the factory that will have to handle its production. But is it up to the task? How much investment will it need to be able to do that?
Tesla intends to reach a 400,000-vehicle production in Fremont in 2019, but Elon Musk said in 2016 that it would be feasible to produce one million cars there, even if it was up to discussion whether that was wise. That would imply more than doubling the aimed production for 2019.
At that point, the Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai was just a distant dream. Now, it is starting to pump out its first Model 3 units in a factory that was not adapted to produce electric cars, as NUMMI was until it became Fremont.
It is worth remembering the Shanghai plant will be able to produce 250,000 at this first stage and that the plans are for it to deliver 500,000 EVs in its second stage of development. That could help to expand Tesla sales to markets in which it is still not present, such as Brazil. It could also help rearrange production for it to make more sense.
The production of the Model Y will happen in the US and China. If it were not for the trade war between these countries, it would make sense to have it made in only one of them. From a financial perspective, the cheapest Tesla vehicles should come from the country that is able to deliver it at the most competitive costs. That would free capacity for the pickup truck in Fremont. The US did not restrict car imports before the Trump administration apart from the Chicken Tax.
In the US, the Model Y assembly is slated to begin in late 2020. In China, that will probably start earlier than that, but we cannot tell for sure. What we can say is that the only vehicle Tesla really needs to produce in the US, for strategic and tax reasons, is the pickup truck.
Will we see the Model 3 and Model Y production move entirely to China? Will Tesla invest in making 1 million units in Fremont? Does it make sense to have such a massive car factory in California with Gigafactory 3 already producing and Gigafactory 4 in a few years in Berlin?
As we expected, with the Model Y production starting by the end of 2020, the Cybertruck made in Fremont will be produced in late 2021 and possibly just delivered in 2022 if everything goes as planned. Perhaps too late against competitors such as the Rivian R1T.