Jonas Tells Us Why Cybertruck May Not Be Runaway Success

By Kevin Armstrong
Will the Cybertruck's appeal dwindle after release?
Will the Cybertruck's appeal dwindle after release?
MatthewDR/Twitter

Cybertruck hype reached feverish levels after Investor Day. The futuristic vehicle was on display and even took some lucky people for a test drive. However, wherever there is a parade, there will surely be rain. So, Morgan Stanley's managing director advises staff to manage expectations for clients excited about investing in Tesla.

Adam Jonas, who attended Investor Day, listed five reasons why Cybertruck may not be the vehicle Elon Musk and the Tesla team dream it will be. Instead, he thinks it will be a financial "side-show," a "cultural/zeitgeist," and an "enthusiast/cult car." Let's hear him out. He is considered a Tesla Bull, despite a quick Google search showing he's been writing a bear case for Tesla for years.

Things Have Changed for Tesla

His first point is that Tesla was a different company in 2019 when Cybertruck was unveiled. When you adjust for the multiple stock splits, Tesla is worth ten times more today. He believes the company's values and goals have changed since 2019.

Tesla has changed significantly in the past four years, and the company is focused on launching a more affordable vehicle. Musk laid out his plan for a more sustainable energy future that included getting more people into electric cars, a goal that can only be achieved if those cars are affordable for more people. Unfortunately, Cybertruck is unlikely to be under the title: affordable.

How Far Can Unique Go?

The investor's next point is calling the Cybertruck the "ultimate avant-garde vehicle." He believes that the unique aspects of Cybertruck will lose some appeal when there are several on the road.

Okay, fair point. However, how many white Teslas do you see on the road today? No one seems to mind driving the same color Model 3 and Model Y. Besides, if someone is concerned about losing that "indescribable something," as Jonas puts it, they can get a wrap. Also, with rumors that the next platform may use Cybertruck's stainless steel exterior, the company doesn't seem concerned about too many stainless steel vehicles.

Restrict Cybertruck Production

To that point, the Morgan Stanley employee wonders if Tesla should restrict the production of Cybertruck. He forecasts that the production volume could ramp up to 100,000 units per year, which means it will be 2030 by the time 500,000 are on the street. He ponders if the company should limit production to 420,699 Cybertrucks.

This makes sense if his production figures are close to reality. It could take decades to fill the millions of Cybertruck orders. Look at how much things have changed in the four years since it was announced; imagine the changes that could happen before filling all those orders. These orders may fall under the same category as the long-awaited Roadster 2.0.

Price Point Concerns

In his next point, Jonas says the employee who gave him a Cybertruck ride said the vehicle weighed 7,000 pounds, equivalent to a Chevy Silverado 3500HD. That has Jonas thinking the price will be significantly higher than the first announced $39,900.

At this point, anyone who thinks they will get a Cybertruck for forty grand better forfeit their reservation now. But Jonas's point is relevant: if the price comes in too high, the waitlist will be drastically reduced by the many who put in a reservation for a $39,900 truck.

Not a Competitor for Traditional Trucks

Based on that point, Jonas doesn't think the Cybertruck he saw and rode in "poses a significant threat to the established pickup truck market."

He could be right. It will be a difficult sell if it's big, heavy, and considerably expensive. We should also note that just days before this letter to Morgan Stanley staff, Jonas dropped Tesla as his preferred U.S.-listed automaker and now backs Ferrari NV. Yes, that Ferrari, the builder of supercars.

If you are on the waiting list for a Cybertruck, it's worth considering the points Jonas has raised. However, while Cybertruck has generated significant hype and excitement, it is essential to account for the potential challenges and limitations it may face in the market. With Tesla's changing values and goals, the Cybertruck's unique design, uncertain price point, and limited production, it remains to be seen whether it will be the ultimate game-changer in the pickup truck market. But you'll have plenty of time to decide if you want to take delivery of your Cybertruck as limited production starts this summer, with a ramp-up beginning next year.

Tesla's Supercharger Team Shakeup: Firings, Rehiring, and Future Prospects

By Karan Singh

Tesla recently fired the entire Supercharger team, including Tesla’s head of charging – Rebecca Tinucci, after she pushed back on the extreme layoffs that took place right before the cut.

The Supercharger team consisted of over 500 employees, at least after the initial layoffs. In the following days and weeks, Tesla began to rehire some of the employees that it had fired.

Some Damage Done

In the immediate aftermath of the firing of the Supercharger team, contractors and site planners were left bewildered, with no contact from the Supercharger team that was responsible for payment, planning, and decision-making.

As this has played out, new Supercharger deployments have been reduced – stations that were already being built are being completed, but no new announcements have been made since t

It was dire news at the time - but it isn’t all bad.

Returning Employees

Now, more and more of the employees that were fired are beginning to return to Tesla, some of whom are announcing that they were asked to return to Tesla in their previous capacities.

George Bahadue, Senior Manager of Site Acquisition and Business Development commented on LinkedIn:

“Two weeks ago, I was asked to return to Tesla in my previous capacity heading up the business development and site acquisition for Tesla charging – I accepted.”

His reasoning to accept the position was a quote from Rebecca Tinucci:

“You work at Tesla because you hope to have at least a small impact on our collective future – aspirationally, to leave the world better for our children and grandchildren and their children and grandchildren – by accelerating the transition to sustainable energy. And that mission is too important to allow any distractions.”

New Stations Could be Coming Soon

With the restaffing of the Supercharger team, especially with the return of George Bahadue, we can expect that new Supercharger sites may be announced in the coming weeks, as the ripple effect from the layoffs begins to settle.

The rehiring of experienced staff suggests that Tesla and Elon Musk are still committed to the vision of maintaining and expanding its Supercharger network – the largest and most reliable charging network in North America, which is crucial for the mission to move the world to renewable energy.

Tesla Cuts Model Y Output in China – Economic Slowdown and Anticipated Project Juniper Launch

By Karan Singh

Tesla recently cut Model Y output in China, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), Tesla’s production of the Model Y in China experienced a decline of approximately 18% in March, and 33% in April, versus the same time last year.

Output Cuts

These output cuts can be attributed to Tesla’s recent decision to reduce production of the Model Y at Giga Shanghai by at least 20% from March to June 2024. This was attributed to an unnamed Spokesperson by Reuters last week.

This decision could be multifaceted – the primary reason being an economic slowdown in China as price wars continue to be waged between EV manufacturers, including Tesla. On the flipside, Tesla has continued its production of the updated 2024 Model 3, colloquially referred to as the Highland, with an increase of 10%.

Project Juniper?

The second reason for this slowdown could be the incoming arrival of the Model Y refresh – also known as Project Juniper. Tesla China has already introduced an updated Model Y with a unique cloth dash with similar ambient lighting as the Model 3.

The Model 3 Highland was also introduced in China before its introduction to other markets, including North America and Europe.

Juniper Upgrade Speculation

Not much has been seen about Project Juniper at this time, but we can expect a similar suite of upgrades that match the updated 2024 Model 3 Highland – including a new front fascia design, updated doors and dynamics, steering updates, improved control arms, ambient lighting, new seats, and improved range.

There is a continued expectation that Tesla is pushing back its Model Y refresh – its best-selling vehicle – to make a bigger splash. This could include newer features – like the Cybertruck’s Steer-by-Wire, front camera, or other upgrades and changes – like the lack of stalks on the rest of the Tesla line-up.

Tesla previously confirmed we’re not seeing the Juniper Y this year, this could be the time needed to retool and upgrade lines to prepare for its introduction sometime next year.

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