Tesla Cybertruck Is Already The Second Most Popular Electric Truck On The Market

Photo: Brandon Bell (Getty Images)
Photo: Brandon Bell (Getty Images)

Good morning! It’s Thursday, May 16, 2024, and this is The Morning Shift, your daily roundup of the top automotive headlines from around the world, in one place. Here are the important stories you need to know.

1st Gear: Cybertruck Already Beating Out Electric Truck Mainstays

The Tesla Cybertruck is already outselling most of the electric pickup truck market, losing out only to the Ford F-150 Lightning. In March, the Cybertruck notched 1,158 new vehicle registrations. That’s more than the Rivian R1T’s 548, the Chevy Silverado EVs’ 319, and the GMC Hummer EV’s 192. Still, everyone lagged behind the Lightning’s healthy 2,893 registrations. From Automotive News:


“In its fourth month, the Cybertruck had over a thousand registrations and outsold the R1T by more than two to one,” said Tom Libby, associate director of industry analysis at S&P Global Mobility. “And frankly, I’m a little bit surprised. The Cybertruck is very, very unique, and it’s interesting that it’s been able to do that type of volume so quickly.”

Registration data serves as a proxy to official sales numbers since Tesla doesn’t break out its U.S. sales from global deliveries. Also, Rivian doesn’t report sales by model, and other EV makers omit some model data.

Prior to going on sale, the Cybertruck had amassed a million reservations from Tesla fans who put down a $100 refundable deposit, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in October.

However, the base price of the Cybertruck rose to $60,990 when the revised price was announced at launch from $39,900 when it was first presented in November 2019. Both prices are before shipping.

In addition, Tesla started production with a special Foundation Series that starts at $99,990 before shipping. Tesla said on its website that lower trims will go on sale next year.

To more drastically undercut the Cybertruck Foundation Series, Rivian cut the base price of the R1T to $71,700, a $3,100 drop. The Lightning starts at $57,090, and a base Silverado EV will cost buyers $74,900, both including shipping. Outside of the Cybertruck, the Hummer EV is the most expensive with a $98,845 base price.

In the first quarter, 8,589 Lightnings were registered, whichrepresents a 51 percent increase year-over-year. At the same time, the Cybertruck had 1,791, and the R1T had 1,786 registrations. That works out to a 56 percent year-over-year decline. Not ideal for Rivian, no.

2nd Gear: Honda Puts $65 Billion Into EVs Through 2030

Honda has pledged to double its electrification and software investment to about $65 billion through the 2030 business year. CEO Toshihiro Mibe made the announcement the Japanese automaker would be doubling the amount it initially planned to invest in April 2022 at a press conference on May 16. From Reuters:

The company, a relative latecomer to electric vehicles, first had to ensure it could reliably procure batteries and achieve cost cuts and performance improvements before focusing on software-defined vehicles, Mibe said.

“As for strengthening software development, we realised the amount we had settled on two years ago was simply not enough, so we significantly increased that portion,” Mibe said, after a presentation that focused mostly on hardware improvements.

Models of a battery-powered vehicle series Honda will start rolling out from 2026 will have a cruising range of 300 miles (482 km) or more, Mibe said, pledging to equip the cars with an ultra-thin battery pack and a newly-developed compact e-axle.

The automaker said it aimed to cut battery procurement costs in North America by more than 20% by 2030 and reduce production expenses by about 35%, partly by boosting parts integration.

Here’s a little more on Honda’s plans for EVs:

Mibe said Honda plans to launch seven models in its EV series globally by 2030, but pointed out that the spread of EVs in North America and Europe was slowing, after reaching a plateau.

Honda unveiled plans last month to invest $11 billion in new EV and battery production plants alongside existing facilities in Ontario, Canada, as it prepares to expand in the North American market.

Honda originally launched its all-electric “0 Series” back in January at CES (I was there!) as it gears up for a long-term push to catch up with other automakers that were earlier to EVs.

3rd Gear: Volkswagen Backs Down From EV Push

Volkswagen and Honda seem to be passing each other like ships in the night because the German automaker is scaling back its electric vehicle plans. VW said last week that it will need more plug-in hybrids to compensate as EV sales slow down. From Bloomberg:

This marks just the latest adjustment VW has made to its electrification strategy after the company botched several model releases and fell behind in China, where local brands now dominate. The manufacturer has also shelved efforts to seek outside investors for its battery unit and scrapped plans for a €2 billion ($2.2 billion) EV factory in Germany.

In fact, the automaker is selling so many cars still running on combustion engines that it’s on track to overshoot its emissions allowance next year, leading Chief Executive Officer Oliver Blume to ask European regulators for leniency. It’s a sharp turnabout from only three years ago, when VW’s aggressive lobbying for EVs in the European Union opened up rifts between the company and some of its peers in the region.

VW had little choice but to lean into its electrification messaging after having bet heavily on “clean” diesel engines. That wager went sideways when the company was caught cheating on emissions tests, which forced a hard pivot to battery-powered vehicles. By 2019, then-CEO Herbert Diess announced to launch as many as 75 all-electric models over the next decade.

His EV-or-bust strategy — Diess argued that automakers needed to change quickly if they wanted to survive — rankled executives from Turin to Tokyo who wanted more time and flexibility to make the transition from combustion cars. The CEO even lauded what he saw as an early-mover advantage.

Electric mobility “has won the race,” Diess said when presenting VW’s battery strategy in 2021. “Many in the industry questioned our approach. Today, they are following suit, while we are reaping the fruit.”

Don’t worry though, EV lovers. Volkswagen hasn’t completely given up on electric cars. Blume has struck partnerships with companies like Xpeng and is preparing a brand-new EV automaker for China. VW has also apparently been discussing developing cheaper EVs with other European automakers like Renault.

VW isn’t alone in having to recalibrate as a result of the EV slowdown. Countries including Germany and Sweden have ceased or pared back subsidies for electric cars that still tend to be more expensive than combustion counterparts, which has hurt the broader sector. Gaps in public charging networks also continue to turn off potential buyers.

No matter how you slice it, folks, right now we are in a really strange time for EVs. I still think it’s probably the future, but the path there is not going to be nearly as straightforward as it once seemed.

4th Gear: Dieselgate Settlement Reached With Italians

In more Volkswagen fueling news, the German automaker and a group representing vehicle owners in Italy reached an agreement worth over $54 million to end a legal battle over the company’s “Dieselgate” emissions scandal. From Reuters:

In the settlement, over 60,000 car owners affected by the emissions fraud will be paid up to 1,100 euros each, Italian consumer group Altroconsumo said in a statement.

The scandal rocked the automotive industry in 2015 when it emerged that vehicles had been fitted with illegal software to cheat environmental emissions tests. It has cost the German carmaker more than 32 billion euros ($34.8 billion)in fines, refits and legal costs.

Volkswagen’s Italian arm confirmed the agreement.

“We continue to work in favour of our customers here in Italy. The agreement brings a years-long litigation to an end and offers a mutual solution for all parties involved,” it said in a statement.

The settlement applies to drivers who bought Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and SEAT cars with diesel EA189 engines between 2009 and 2015.

Altroconsumo started legal action against Volkswagen in 2015, in coordination with its sister organisations in Belgium, Spain and Portugal who are part of the Euroconsumers body.

Volkswagen was called on by the group to properly repay Dieselgate victims who were involved across Europe, saying that “all Dieselgate victims are equal and should be treated with equal respect.”

Reverse: I’d Rather That Wasn’t There

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