Tesla Cybertruck loved by non-truck owners, less so by truck owners, says survey

December 13, 2019

The recently revealed Tesla Cybertruck is running neck-and-neck in popularity with upcoming electric offerings from big-name truck brands GM and Ford, according to a survey from Autolist.

The survey also included Rivian, which is similarly popular. Among people who have never owned a truck, all four brands fared roughly equally. Among current and former truck owners, GM and Ford had an advantage, with Rivian trailing closely and Tesla quite far behind.

The survey focused on recent electric truck announcements from the four brands involved. All four trucks are expected to hit the road somewhere around 2021.

Rivian made a big splash at last year’s LA Auto Show with their announcement of the R1T, which later garnered interest and investment from Ford.

Ford is also working on their own electric F-150, independent of Rivian.

And GM tried to steal Tesla’s thunder by announcing an electric pickup on the same day that the Tesla Cybertruck was unveiled.

As we reported the other day, the Tesla Cybertruck announcement had a lot of reach, with a surprisingly high number of consumers knowing about it. This despite the truck only being announced a few weeks ago and never being seen on the road except in a few viral videos.

Autolist asked respondents which of these trucks seemed most appealing to them, and got some interesting results.

About half of respondents had owned a pickup truck before, and the other half had (and among the always-quirky world of survey responses, 1% of respondents were unsure whether they had ever owned a truck).

Among non-truck owners surveyed, the four trucks were pretty much tied. Cybertruck got 25.8% of interest, with Rivian at 24.8%, and Ford and GM tied at 24.7%

But among truck owners, traditional brands won out. Strangely, the GM electric truck came in first by quite a bit, being picked by 35% of respondents. This is odd, given that the F-150 is the most popular vehicle in America and has been for quite some time. Ford came in second with 28%, with Rivian fairly close behind at 23%. The Cybertruck was in fourth place with 14%.

Rivian’s interest stayed pretty stable between the two groups, showing that it has appealing characteristics both for the traditional crowd and the forward thinkers. They seem to have hit a good balance with a more traditional design paired with a few forward-thinking elements and good usage of its electric technology.

But the Cybertruck was clearly of much more interest to consumers who are not current truck owners. So not only is Tesla opening markets in new geographical areas with the Cybertruck, but they’re opening up new groups to the pickup truck market.

This shows ways that the two trucks can coexist without considering each other to be direct competition.  Chase Disher, analyst for Autolist, said:

What this tells us is that the upcoming Rivian and Tesla trucks can coexist on the market as newcomers without cannibalizing sales from one another. The Rivian can appeal to a more traditional truck buyer looking for something fresh, while the Tesla can appeal to those new to the segment looking for a more performance-based model.

Beyond that, respondents picked all four trucks for different reasons, showing that the models could coexist without competing too fiercely against each other.

Respondents mostly picked established brands because of brand loyalty. The top reason Ford and GM pickers gave was “prefer/trust (Ford/GM) more than others.”

Tesla pickers said their top reason for picking the Cybertruck was expected performance, but they also liked Tesla’s efficiency, Autopilot, and Supercharger network. Tesla pickers notably did not cite exterior styling as a main reason for picking the controversial truck.

Styling was a main concern of Rivian pickers, however. Fully 75% of those who chose Rivian stated that exterior styling was one of their reasons. Despite some initial whining about the strange headlight design, people are now apparently quite happy with the Rivian’s look.

Finally, when split up by age group, Cybertruck did extremely well with younger crowds, and not so well with older crowds. In the 18-28 range, Cybertruck won by a huge margin ahead of Ford, Rivian, and GM in that order. But in all other age groups, Cybertruck was the least popular model. Rivian won out among 29-35 and 46-55 year olds, and GM was most popular otherwise.

Electrek’s Take

This survey asked about four electric trucks, but we wish it would have asked about gas trucks, too.  Electric trucks don’t need to compete against each other, there’s plenty of market for them to take from gas trucks.

Of course, the “new brands vs. old brands” angle can function as somewhat of a stand-in for this competition, with presumably more of the electric-skeptical crowd picking the “old brands” over the new ones.

Nevertheless, this survey gives encouraging results for all brands, showing that they don’t need to consider each other as direct competition. Hopefully they’ll focus on the massive advantages that electric has over gas, especially for pickup trucks, and be able to take a big chunk out of the gas-guzzler market.

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