Cybertruck most popular where Model 3 isn’t – Tesla opening new EV markets

November 28, 2019

Tesla’s Cybertruck has been having a bang-up week, with over a quarter million pre-orders since last week’s reveal.  Now we’ve got some data on where those reservations are coming from, and it looks promising for Tesla.

Rather than being popular in areas where Tesla is already popular, the Cybertruck is much more popular in areas where EV penetration is low.

EVs have had a perception of being “city cars,” for people who live in urban or suburban areas and don’t drive very far, don’t do much work, and so on.  And since most EVs on the road today are sedans, with a few crossovers just starting sales recently, these perceptions are, by and large, somewhat true.

But there’s no technological reason that should be the case, as electric drive works great for heavy duty applications.  In fact, most heavy duty equipment, ships, trains, etc. use electric motors these days, though generally with a diesel generator to provide energy.

And some people have shown us otherwise with interesting DIY products like turning a Model 3 into a “pickup”.  But for the most part, Tesla’s sales are in coastal areas, and in the cities and suburbs.

The Tesla Cybertruck is the first time we’ve gotten a chance to compare data between a sedan launch and a pickup launch from the same company.  And it turns out that, despite Tesla’s brand appeal on the coasts, the Cybertruck is breaking new ground and doing quite well in the “heartland” – where pickup trucks are traditionally more popular than sedans.

Brett Winton of ARK invest broke down the data after some “somewhat intricate google trends work”:

The map is colored based on relative interest between the two cars.  Green means those states showed more interest in Cybertruck, red means they showed more interest in Model 3.

California, the US’ largest auto market and largest EV market, still has the highest volume of Cybertruck pre-orders.  The state clocked in at an estimated 32.3k – but that’s only about half of the number of Model 3s which were reserved in California.

Meanwhile, interest in Arkansas, the Dakotas, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, West Virginia, Wyoming and Idaho are all way up.  That said, their pre-order totals are still dwarfed by California, with 7.7k cars reserved among all those states combined (though California also has a higher population than all those states combined as well).

Interest is up in other countries as well:

This graph shows total Model 3 pre-orders on the left and total Cybertruck pre-orders on the right.  Each bar shows the difference, in thousands, between Model 3 and Cybertruck pre-orders in each territory.  The bars on the left, in gray, show more Model 3 interest, while the green ones on the right show more Cybertruck interest.

Winton also estimated that the Cybertruck is about to reach its pre-order plateau.  Looking at the trend line of pre-orders, it’s going to end up somewhere around 270k, he thinks:

Another independent dataset is available, based on self-reported cybertruck reservations.  If you’ve reserved, feel free to add yourself onto the google doc.

This data estimates that pre-orders will plateau at a higher level of 400k or so.

All in all, there were more reservations for Model 3 than Cybertruck, so the raw numbers don’t look quite as impressive as the percentages.  But the spread of geographical areas the reservations are coming from is encouraging for Tesla, who might just be opening up new markets that EVs haven’t previously been popular in.

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