Tesla has unveiled its first pickup truck, delivering on a promise by Elon Musk to build an electric version of America’s favourite vehicle and take aim at Detroit automakers’ profits.
At a launch event in Los Angeles, the Tesla chief executive said the truck, which looked liked a futuristic armoured vehicle, would have a starting price of $39,900 and a maximum range of 500 miles or more.
“We need sustainable energy now. If we don’t have a pickup truck we can’t solve it. The top 3 selling vehicles in America are pickup trucks. To solve sustainable energy we have to have a pickup truck,” he said.
A demonstration intended to show the strength of the vehicle’s “armour glass” windows went wrong when two windows shattered upon having a metal ball thrown at them.
Tesla says production is expected to begin in late 2021. Musk earlier tweeted the design was partly influenced by the Lotus Esprit sportscar that doubled as a submarine in the 1970s James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me.
Tesla’s Model 3 sedan is the world’s top-selling battery electric car and this is its first foray into pickup trucks, a market dominated by Ford’s F-150 and competitors from General and Fiat Chrysler.
Tesla has so far sold mostly Model S and Model 3 sedans but also offers the Model X SUV and starting next year the Model Y compact SUV.
Ford and GM are gearing up to challenge Tesla more directly with new offerings like the Ford Mustang Mach E electric SUV as well as electric pickups. Electric pickups and SUVs could help Ford and GM generate the significant EV sales they will need to meet tougher emission standards and EV mandates in California and other states.
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