Home » The Cybertruck Is Turning Into Tesla’s BlackBerry Storm

The Cybertruck Is Turning Into Tesla’s BlackBerry Storm

Tesla Cybertruck Blackberry Storm Topshot 2
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Want to hear something entirely predictable? During Tesla’s fourth-quarter earnings call, Elon Musk moved the goalposts for Cybertruck production once again. According to the CEO, manufacturing will start “sometime this summer” as he’s long promised, but he was careful to delineate between the start of production and mass production.

“I always try to downplay the start of production,” Musk said, according to The Verge. “It increases exponentially, but it is very slow at first.” Even then there’s no word of when in 2024 this level of “mass-production” might be.

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If the Cybertruck enters mass production in 2024—and that’s still a big if—signs point towards it being anything but a mass-market product. According to The Verge, Musk claimed last year that the Cybertruck will have different specs and a different price from when it first launched, which means that there likely won’t be a $40,000 Cybertruck at all. It’s the $35,000 Model 3 claim all over again.

At a higher price point, the Cybertruck will compete with a whole raft of much less bizarre electric pickup trucks that are already on sale from the Ford F-150 Lightning to the Rivian R1T, plus newcomers like the Chevy and GMC EV trucks and whatever Ram has up its sleeve. The Cybertruck is old news, even if it’s not even here yet; yet Tesla is intent on ramming it into production without focusing on developing other fresh high-volume products.

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This focus on the Cybertruck leaves Tesla with a rather neglected product line for the better part of a year. Tesla hasn’t launched a brand-new car since 2020, whereas companies like Hyundai and General Motors now seem to be rolling out at least one new EV every year.

In addition, Tesla hasn’t replaced a car in its lineup ever. The second-generation Roadster is currently about as real as the tooth fairy, and even the Model S has been around 2012, even if it’s received multiple upgrades since. While battery packs, motors, and interiors have been upgraded, you can’t limp an old architecture along forever, even if it was avant garde when it launched.

As it stands, competitors have caught up to Tesla on acceleration and charging speed, and are beginning to catch up on range too. It won’t be very long until Tesla’s only truly unique perk is the user-friendly Supercharger network. Hmm, a company with aging products and only one key service perk. Where have we seen that before?

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This may be a bit of a surprise to some of our younger readers, but the iPhone wasn’t always the premium smartphone to have. CNN Money reported that back in the first quarter of 2009, BlackBerry held roughly 55.3 percent of the U.S. smartphone market share, far ahead of Apple’s 19.5 percent market share.

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Granted, Android was only getting started and Symbian was still a thing, but BlackBerry got into the premium smartphone market early and established a lead. One of the key perks to owning a BlackBerry was BBM, short for BlackBerry Messenger, an encrypted (albeit not end-to-end) instant messaging service exclusively for BlackBerry users that was incredibly convenient, fairly secure, and really the first exclusively mobile instant messaging service.

Users loved BBM for its reliability and peace of mind, the same reasons Tesla owners love the Supercharging network. Suddenly, something traditionally patchwork and confusing for many people was foolproof. However, BBM alone couldn’t keep BlackBerry going as a dominant smartphone maker. By February 2011, BlackBerry was on a direct flight to irrelevance having been surpassed in sales by Apple and Android devices, with the Washington Business Journal reporting just 5.4 percent market share for BlackBerry devices.

Today, BlackBerry enjoys virtually zero smartphone market share, instead having primarily pivoted to being a software and security company.

Blackberry Storm

The death of BlackBerry’s smartphone success was caused by the same complacency we’re seeing from Tesla today. The Cybertruck could end up as Tesla’s BlackBerry Storm – something completely different from what Tesla is used to making and a flawed product that’s too little, too late.

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In the case of the BlackBerry Storm, two big sore spots were its infuriating SurePress keyboard and shortsighted lack of Wi-Fi. In the case of the Cybertruck, the stainless steel bodywork should be incredibly difficult to repair and, as our own Jason Torchinsky reports, the whole vehicle doesn’t seem like a usable truck. The Storm was launched around the beginning of BlackBerry’s decline and the Cybertruck may launch around the time Tesla starts to fade from absolute dominance in the EV market.

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Indeed, Tesla is already losing U.S. EV market share. While Forbes reports that the marque held 79.4 percent market share in 2020, new competition means that despite plenty of sales still happening, Tesla’s U.S. EV market share was down to 68.2 percent through in 2021 and 65.4 percent in 2022. Even in an expanding market, losing 14 percent market share over just a few years is cause for alarm.

Loss in market share may have been a factor in Tesla’s recent price cuts, which have allegedly spurred demand. Musk stated on the fourth-quarter earnings call that “Thus far in January we’ve seen the strongest orders year-to-date than ever in our history.” However, as more manufacturers launch more EVs, Tesla’s share of the overall market should get smaller and smaller, as that’s generally how things work across all markets when more options are introduced. One way to prevent a critical loss of market share is to crank out new mass-market products, but Tesla doesn’t seem to be interested in that right now.

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As it sits, it’s too soon to say whether Tesla will eventually become a smaller player or burn out entirely. It’s still the world leader in EVs, and last night announced its 13th straight profitable quarter; the days of announcing Tesla’s pending doom are behind us.

However, all current signs point toward a retreat from dominance of some sort. The Cybertruck may be Elon Musk’s vanity project but without a serious investment into Tesla’s mainstream lineup of cars, it could just cost him the company’s status.

(Photo credits: Tesla, Inc., Blackberry)

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Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 year ago

“Indeed, Tesla is already losing U.S. EV market share. ”

Yes… they have a smaller share of a larger EV pie.
But in terms of the overall market for all consumer-focused vehicles, they have continued to gain market share.
If anything, Tesla is playing out more like Apple than Blackberry. A lot of their business model takes its cue from Apple.

” During Tesla’s fourth-quarter earnings call, Elon Musk moved the goalposts for Cybertruck production once again. ”

I’d rather they release it later and fully baked than release it early and half-baked. And anyone who has been paying attention, Tesla/Musk has been saying for the last while that production would start in 2023… in low numbers. What Musk was talking about on the call was volume production. Telsa typically has done slow production ramps, unlike other legacy car makers that just rush something out the door. I’m looking at you Ford, GM and Stellantis.

The point is they are getting closer to getting it out the door, but they’re not going to rush it out the door. Whether it happens as soon as you or someone else wants is of little consequence.

“The second-generation Roadster is currently about as real as the tooth fairy, ”

Hey… Don’t mess with the Tooth Fairy! She’s every bit as real as Santa Claus!

:-p

But on a more serious note, I think it’s interesting they are starting to talk about the Roadster again.

It’s not really a critical product. But it will be interesting to see what they come up with.

The Cybertruck and the Semi are far more important.

I have asthma and so does my daughter. Thus, the Semi is particularly exciting for me. I want to see large diesel trucks get replaced with BEVs as soon as possible.

Diesel commercial vehicles are some of the biggest polluters in cities. Plus they’re noisy.

JDE
JDE
1 year ago

Apple nearly died completely in the 90’s. And yes Steve Jobs was every bit the Tool that Elon Is. I personally won’t buy either product just because of those two schmucks.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
1 year ago

The Cybertruck is like the vehicular equivalent of Infrastructure Week – it’s forever right around the corner. But Tesla *does* seem to be advancing from their earlier vehicles like the Model S – instead of selling the same car for 10+ years, they are on track to preview the same truck for 10+ years before it ever gets released.

Roofless
Roofless
1 year ago

I’m down for dunking on Musk as much as anyone, but nobody’s cross-shopping the cybertruck – it’s not a “spec sheet” purchase, unless your spec sheet includes the words “wooosh” and “pew pew pew”.

Iwannadrive637
Iwannadrive637
1 year ago

If I were a stable, pot smoking, multi billionaire genius with a stainless steel vehicle to hawk I might consider financing a family friendly sci-fi movie to make my product lovable and desired. Call the movie, “Great Scott!” The tagline could be, “This is Heavy.”

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago

Let us be honest Toyota a very successful car company relies on putting out 5 year old tech and makes billions doing it. Stelkantis puts out 20 year old platforms and are crushing it. If Tesla can fix their crap build quality and continue to improve range i bet they can get bye on modest changes. After all if you start with 100% of the market the only place to go is down. And though Tesla goes from 100% of the market that makes up 5% of car sales to 25% of the market that makes up 100% of the market because everyone goes EV that is billions.
I dont think bean counters bring a lot to running a business but a bean counter resource for Autopian would be as helpful as Mercedes wonderful partner Sheryl in the legal area

Elons Backdoor Musk
Elons Backdoor Musk
1 year ago

I’ve been saying forever that Tesla was in danger of becoming the Blackberry of EVs.

Arrogance at the C suite is a surefire path to irrelevance.

Frank Wrench
Frank Wrench
1 year ago

The Cybertruck will always look like a joke that was taken too far

Fred Fedurch
Fred Fedurch
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Wrench

We’ve been Canyonero’d.

Industrial_design_guy
Industrial_design_guy
1 year ago

I’d say it’s unlikely. I don’t think the comparison is necessarily fair, though I do see some similarities. I don’t think we’re going to see the same level of drop over such a short period of time, and the size of the electric car market is also growing, so a decline in market share doesn’t mean a decline in sales. There are many good examples of long lasting platforms, as others have pointed out, and a few cars of note include the Dodge Challenger and Charger. And other makers like BMW are endeavoring to lengthen the life of their models, following a trend that others like Volvo have long been on (mostly lack of development dollars). It does seem that they’ve also invested wisely in producing most of their components in-house, giving them margins that enable them to wage price wars against competitors. They seem to be well positioned against legacy competitors, though players like Hyundai/Kai and others are intent on moving into the electric space as fast as possible. Also, their best selling vehicles are also their newest. With semi and cyber going on, they likely don’t have much in the tank for more.

Industrial_design_guy
Industrial_design_guy
1 year ago

Er, I mean battery…

EXL500
EXL500
1 year ago

It cannot be produced as is in compliance with federal regulations. Meanwhile, their core offerings are getting stale. It may be too late to re-focus.

Ron888
Ron888
1 year ago
Reply to  EXL500

Tesla refreshing their cars or ,hell even ONE of them is something that really perplexes me. How long can they put it off? Will they continue as is for years to come?
Sure they have classic-ish coupe shapes and minimalist lines that could be considered elegant, but surely they have to update *sometime*
Could they possibly wait until sales start to dip? Are they really that brave/foolhardy?

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron888

“How long can they put it off? ”

Using companies like Ford, GM and FCA as a measure, Ford had the Panther-body cars on sale from 1979 to 2012 and the Fox was on sale from 1978 to 1993.

And GM had the last gen B-body on sale from 1978 to 1996.

Chrysler started the LX from 2005 and it looks like it’s gonna run to 2024.

So in summary, if it’s a good design that continues to sell well, I’d say the Model 3, which went on sale in in 2017, can easily run as-is with minor updates to at least 2032… to as long as the year 2050 (which would put it on par with the Ford Panther cars in terms of years on sale with just updates being done).

Dean Reimer
Dean Reimer
1 year ago

There’s a reason that’s called the “malaise era” for domestic manufacturers, though. Not refreshing your designs while your competition is releasing updates every 2-3 years makes your product a tougher sell.

Happy Walters
Happy Walters
1 year ago

If the Cyber Truck comes with a physical keyboard, though, I will still line up to buy one.

Hgrunt
Hgrunt
1 year ago

One of the big downsides of announcing a vehicle years before it goes on sale, is that it will look old by the time it comes out, especially if it’s as avant-garde as the Cybertruck. Then again, the spending power of Tesla fans and people who like to be seen, shouldn’t be underestimated.

Tesla isn’t terribly interested in expanding their product lineup, probably because there is still strong demand for the existing cars. There’s precedence for this, because the Dodge Charger is still quite popular even though it’s looked the same for 8 years.

They’re supposedly working on an “affordable” car below the Model 3, but I imagine production will begin several years late, start with the most expensive version, and the lowest cost model will be quietly dropped after a short period like what happened with the Model 3

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 year ago
Reply to  Hgrunt

“They’re supposedly working on an “affordable” car below the Model 3, ”

I’m not even sure if they’re truly working on it yet. I think they’re still deciding on the approach they’re gonna take with it. Will it be a derivative of the 3? Or be its own platform developed in a lower-cost place?

I recall reading some talk of them designing and building it either in China or India. Most likely it will be in China.

But I think we are at least 5 years away from having a Tesla below the 3. Before a sub-3 model happens, other things need to happen first… such as getting the Cybertruck and Semi production ramped up. And also getting the new Roadster finalized and out the door.

Plus there is also a planned update that is supposed to happen for the 3 and Y soon.

All those things will keep Tesla busy for the next 3-4 years.

Chris D
Chris D
1 year ago

A Chinese built pickup will not have very many fans in the US, especially when it’s as different as the Cybertruck. The CT has the potential to be fantastic, and it can also end up as a dismal flop.
Its shape creates lots of engineering issues – where are the tie-downs, and the steps up to the bed? It looks clean because there are no side view mirrors, door rub strips, antenna, tailgate handle, backup lights, turn signals, rear side marker light, reflectors, trailer hitch, tiedown hooks or license plates. Add those necessities and the “look” is gone.

Angel "the Cobra" Martin
Angel "the Cobra" Martin
1 year ago

My issue is with the way Tesla is gauged. Why is their market share based on EV sales and not car sales? Is the EV really that different from an ICE or hybrid? Is Tesla losing market share of from 79% to 65% in the past 2 years surprising to anyone? Tesla’s share of the auto market in that same span went from .9% to 3.2%. If the CT has 500 miles of range and around $75K I’ll buy, otherwise it’s the Silverado EV. I’ll just wait around and see what happens.

JamesRL
JamesRL
1 year ago

The Cybertruck is made of stainless steel, and it’s production date has been pushed back multiple times, and it’s going to cost more than originally planned.

The Cybertruck is the new Delorean.

It’s only a matter of time until Elon gets caught up in a sting trying to be a coke mule…

We can only hope he brings us something as cool as the Yugo when get gets back into the car business.

Chris D
Chris D
1 year ago
Reply to  JamesRL

The Delorean is a classic. The Cybertruck – who knows what its legacy will be, or if it will ever exist?
It looks like the tailgate is too tall, and the view out the back window is very narrow, with the sloping roof and high tailgate. This was a cool idea when sketched on an envelope, but there is a reason why after about a hundred years of trucks that this shape has never been used.
And would anyone risk carrying bricks or lumber in the back of their new Tesla, fit a lumber rack to it, or haul a load of scrap metal to the dump in it?

Sklooner
Sklooner
1 year ago

Did Elon hire the people responsible for Duke Nukem Forever ?

Acevedo12
Acevedo12
1 year ago
Reply to  Sklooner

Speaking of which, when is Gearbox gonna do something with that IP? Duke has been MIA for over a decade at this point and missed the old school fps renaissance.

Doom, Wolfenstein, and Shadow Warrior all got successful reboots and he’s nowhere to be seen. Hell, even Blood and PowerSlave Exhumed got rereleases.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  Acevedo12

I’m still waiting for Half Life 3

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