Tesla opened its massive new factory in Texas on Thursday night. The event was suitably supersized for a building “as large as three Pentagons,” with 15,000 fans on site to see Tesla CEO Elon Musk hold a “Cyber Rodeo,” a theme evident in the sheer number of cowboy hats visible on the livestream.
Musk’s biggest news of the night was that the long-delayed Cybertruck will go on sale in 2023. First shown in 2019, the angular stainless-steel pickup was supposed to go into production in 2021. With previous vehicles, Tesla has mostly been conquering fresh territory—there was no serious competition for the Model S for many years, nor the Model 3, and the Model X remains the only EV with six or seven seats.
But now there’s the buzzy upstart Rivian, with its very well-reviewed R1T adventure truck. The Hummer EV just made its comeback as an electric super truck. And next month you’ll read first drives of the Ford F-150 Lightning, arguably the most important new vehicle of the year.
In 2019 Tesla promised a $39,900 starting price for a Cybertruck with 250 miles (400 km) of range and a towing capacity of 7,500 lbs (3,402 kg), a dual-motor variant with a 10,000 lb (4,536 kg) towing capacity for $49,900, and a $69,900 tri-motor Cybertruck that can tow 14,000 lbs (6,350 kg) or travel 500 miles (800 km) on a single charge.
If it can keep to these prices, the Cybertruck is bound to succeed regardless of how good the competition is. But even Tesla has not been immune to the effect of inflation these past few years, and we’re unlikely to know any concrete pricing details until next year.
The billionaire also told the crowd that next year may see the release of his robot, Optimus. This is supposed to take over all of humanity’s dirty jobs, Musk says. In the past Musk has said there should be universal basic income because robots will take all the jobs and warned that robots will kill all humans given the chance.