Tesla could build a boring bakkie

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Is Tesla feeling the pressure from Rivian?

Despite having more than 600 000 pre-orders, Elon Musk is not totally committed to the eventual marketability of his Cybertruck.

The charismatic Tesla CEO has admitted to Automotive News, that the company’s futuristic bakkie was very much designed on a whim and intuition.

Unlike most other bakkies, there were no focus groups involved, allowing Tesla’s designers to test its design on customers – and develop it accordingly.

Musk’s mission was simply to design a bakkie which looked like something from a sci-fi movie. The original Cybertruck concept has certainly achieved that and triggered broad interest from customers who would ordinarily never have considered a bakkie.

Tesla desires greater scale in its business. Global demand for its products remains strong, but Musk is not unaware of the huge profits that are being made by the likes of Ford, FCA, GM and Toyota in the bakkie market.

Rivian has been an increasing source of worry for Tesla. The bakkie and SUV electric vehicle company is seen by many as Tesla’s most credible rival and it is launching straight into the best possible revenue stream segment: double-cabs.

There is no question that Rivian’s potential success is hastening Tesla’s Cybertruck development, with the two brands scheduled to launch their bakkies mere months apart, towards the end of 2021. The Rivian double-cab bakkie looks a lot more conventional than Tesla’s Cybertruck, and that could make it better suited at conquering traditional bakkie customers.

It appears that this reality is now crystallizing in the mind of Musk, who has admitted that although the Cybertruck’s daring design is a futurism that Tesla values, it is not resistant to the idea of building a more conservative bakkie.

Although the Cybertruck’s exoskeleton construction and angular lines are defining attributes, Musk is not immune to changing it. If the market demands something different. “There are lots of normal trucks out there that look pretty much the same; you can hardly tell the difference. And sure, we could just do some copycat truck; that's easy. So that's our fallback strategy."

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