Ford, General Motors and Rivian all have electric pickup trucks in production, but buyers looking forward to the Tesla Cybertruck will have to keep waiting.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk during an earnings call late on Wednesday said the company won't launch any new vehicles in 2022 as it focuses on ramping up production of existing models and developing new technologies.
It means the much-hyped Cybertruck, as well as the second-generation Roadster and Semi tractor truck (remember those?), won't arrive until 2023, at the earliest.
New Tesla Roadster
"We're not introducing any new models this year," Musk said in the call. "We will, however, do a lot of engineering and tooling to create those vehicles: Cybertruck, Semi, Roadster, Optimus [nee Tesla Bot], and be ready to bring those to production hopefully next year.”
In fairness to Tesla, the company is already flat out meeting demand for its current lineup, something echoed by Musk during the call when he said, “We have enough on our plate right now, quite frankly.”
Tesla managed to deliver 936,000 vehicles in 2021, resulting in a record net income of $5.5 billion. The company has also just started production of Model Y crossovers at its new plant in Texas, which is also earmarked to build the Cybertruck. Tesla is also close to completing construction of a plant in Germany, which will build the Model 3 and Model Y.
During the call, Musk also hinted that the company is having issues developing the Cybertruck at a price people can afford. The Cybertruck was originally promised to arrive in late in 2021 with a starting price of $39,900, but Musk in the call said he, “worries about how (do we) make the Cybertruck affordable despite it having all of this awesome technology.”
Tesla has removed the ordering section for the Cybertruck from its website (you can still reserve one), which may indicate that the company is rejigging the electric pickup's price. We also know that some of the specs will be changed, as Musk in December announced a new four-motor variant that wasn't part of the original lineup announced during the Cybertruck's 2019 reveal. Previously the lineup topped out with a three-motor variant.
Musk also said in the call that the company is not working at present on a planned $25,000 model first announced in 2020.
Tesla factory, Fremont, California
Throughout the call, Musk stressed that making self-driving cars a reality has much more growth potential than car manufacturing.
"Everything pales in comparison to the value of robotaxi or full self-driving," he said. "I would be shocked if we do not achieve full self-driving safer than a human this year."
Tesla's most advanced self-driving system, known as Full Self-Driving, is still a driver-assist feature for highway driving which requires constant monitoring from the driver, since errors can occur. A beta version designed for urban roads is now available to 60,000 Tesla owners in the U.S., which is up from just 2,000 last fall.
Finally, Musk also mentioned Optimus, a humanoid robot controlled by the same AI technology being developed by Tesla's self-driving system. Musk said the robot could be in production by the end of 2023, and that he sees it as a possible solution for labor shortages. He said work in Tesla's own factories would likely be the first application for the robot and that the technology has the “potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time.”
We'll just have to wait and see.