Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk revived the practice of reporting reservation counts, telling his Twitter followers that orders for the carmaker’s Cybertruck have climbed to 200,000 despite a rocky reveal.
The tally, which Musk tweeted Sunday, restores another source of intrigue for investors, analysts, journalists, and fans and skeptics of the company, as the figures are used as a proxy for demand. Musk’s tweets broke with recent practice at Tesla, which had stopped giving reservation figures on quarterly earnings calls, saying the metric wasn’t relevant.
When asked about the Model Y during Tesla’s first-quarter earnings call in April, Musk responded: “We don’t want to comment on the granularity of deposits — again, people just read too much into those.”
Tesla shares closed up 1% to $336.34 on Monday. The stock slumped 6.1% on Friday after the company’s chief designer shattered two windows during a demo intended to show off the strength of the truck’s panes of glass.
Tesla has a history of unveiling future products to throngs of excited customers, then taking deposits and delivering the vehicles years later. Two years ago, Tesla showed off a Semi truck and a next-generation Roadster sports car, but neither vehicle is in production yet. This spring, Musk unveiled the Model Y crossover, which is slated to begin production next summer.
Tesla’s website allows customers to order the truck for a fully refundable $100 and says they can complete their configuration as production approaches in late 2021. Musk said in a tweet Saturday that 42% had ordered the dual-motor option, which starts at $49,900, while 41% have ordered the $69,900 triple-motor option, production of which is expected to begin in late 2022. Just 17% ordered the single-motor version, which begins at $39,900.
146k Cybertruck orders so far, with 42% choosing dual, 41% tri & 17% single motor— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 23, 2019
The $100 deposit for the Cybertruck is far cheaper than the $1,000 that was required to reserve a Model 3 sedan starting in early 2016.
Tesla never released an order or reservation figure for the Model Y. The company had $665 million in customer deposits as of Sept. 30, according to a regulatory filing.
“Reservations are not relevant for us,” then-Chief Financial Officer Deepak Ahuja said in January during the company’s 2018 fourth-quarter earnings call. “Now we do have a large reservations backlog still, which tells us that a lot of customers are still waiting for those cars. But I don’t think it’s appropriate to share the reservations number.”
In an attempt to demonstrate the Cybertruck’s toughness on Thursday, longtime Tesla lead designer Franz von Holzhausen whacked its stainless-steel door several times with a sledgehammer, failing to leave a dent. But when he threw a metallic ball at the driver’s-side front window, it shattered.
The crowd gasped. “Oh my ... God,” Musk said. “Maybe that was a little too hard.”
Von Holzhausen tried a second, softer throw — this time targeting the truck’s rear window — only to see that shatter as well.
It wasn’t immediately clear who supplied the glass or if Tesla made what it called Armor Glass completely in-house. Tesla entered the glass technology business back in 2016 and has an internal group known as Tesla Glass.
Musk said his team threw the same steel ball at the window several times before the event and didn’t scratch it. Late Friday, he tweeted out a short video of Von Holzhausen that has been viewed 6.8 million times.
Musk tweeted Sunday that when Von Holzhausen smacked the truck with the sledgehammer, it cracked the base of the glass. The CEO said Tesla should have thrown the steel ball at the window and then done the sledgehammer test. He wrote separately that although the Cybertruck would be Tesla’s last product unveil for a while, the company will make some unexpected technology announcements next year.
Meanwhile, Musk got into a back-and-forth with Ford over his claim that the Cybertruck is a “better truck than an F-150.” While releasing a series of specs last week, Musk called up a video of the pickup in a tug-of-war against Ford’s top-selling F-150. He tweeted a clip of the test on Sunday showing his vehicle pulling a screeching Ford model up a hill.
Ford thinks Musk was making an apples-to-oranges comparison. The video appears to show a two-wheel-drive version of the F-150 against an all-wheel-drive Cybertruck. Other details that could have factored in which pickup won out include curb weight and tire type.
Sundeep Madra, vice president of Ford X, the automaker’s unit for developing new business models, challenged Musk on Monday to send Ford a Cybertruck. He linked to a post by the car-enthusiast site Motor1.com that questioned whether Tesla’s test was “a fair game.” Musk responded to Madra: “Bring it on.”