Tesla Cybertruck not coming to Australia – for now

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The Texas factory manufacturing the US electric-car specialist’s most controversial vehicle yet will not place the steering wheel on the right-hand side, Drive has been told.


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The Tesla Cybertruck electric pick-up is not currently planned for sale in Australia – or manufacture in right-hand drive ­– Drive has learned.

Drive understands a right-hand-drive version of the Cybertruck is not currently being engineered for sale in markets such as Australia, the UK and Japan.

Multiple Tesla sources have told Drive the Texas factory where the Cybertruck will be exclusively manufactured – based on plans confirmed publicly by the company to investors – has not been configured to support the production of right-hand-drive vehicles.

It is believed there is nothing stopping the factory from being tooled for right-hand drive at a later date, if Tesla changes its mind and wants to sell the Cybertruck in Australia and New Zealand.

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And a right-hand-drive version could instead be developed and produced in one of Tesla’s other factories – namely Shanghai, China and Berlin, Germany – for export markets.

But – at the time of publishing – Drive has been told there are no current plans to do either.

Helping the case for a right-hand-drive Cybertruck is that the pick-up is steer-by-wire – so there is no mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the front wheels, which in theory makes it easier and cheaper to move the steering wheel to the other side.

However an investment into a right-hand-drive version of the vehicle – and the production line – would still be required, should Tesla go down this path.

Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk have not announced either way whether the company will build the Cybertruck in right-hand drive and sell it in Australia.

It is worth noting the Tesla Australia website only allows interested buyers to join a mailing list for the vehicle, rather than place an order as on the US website.

The information conveyed to Drive by multiple sources within the company is the latest blow for fans in Australia of the Tesla Cybertruck, which was unveiled on Friday morning in its final production form.

When the wedge-shaped electric pick-up was unveiled as a concept in November 2019, buyers in Australia – as well as most other markets around the world where Tesla sells cars – could place a refundable pre-order of $150 to secure their place in the production queue.

At the time Tesla did not say explicitly if it would introduce the Cybertruck to Australia, however the ability to place a pre-order was taken by many to assume the vehicle would eventually come here.

The road to Australia for the Tesla Cybertruck soon began to crack.

In late 2021 Tesla removed the ability for buyers outside of North America – the US, Canada and Mexico – to place a pre-order for the vehicle, which by that point was running late compared to its original forecasted launch date of late 2021.

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Comments made by Elon Musk in the years since the pick-up’s reveal as a concept have indicated the Cybertruck will not meet European motor-vehicle regulations – to which Australia is more closely aligned, compared to the standards in the US – and that export markets outside the US may not be well suited to the vehicle’s size.

Earlier this year Tesla pulled the plug on right-hand-drive versions of the updated Model S sedan and Model X SUV due to “changes in the vehicle program”.

These vehicles were unveiled in early 2021 with full Australian pricing – and a planned local arrival date in 2022 – but in the two years which followed, Tesla deleted pricing from its website and removed the button to place an order, before announcing right-hand-drive models would not be built.

The latest Model S and Model X were introduced in the right-hand-drive markets of the UK and Japan, but as left-hand-drive vehicles. It is not legal to sell a new left-hand-drive vehicle in Australia.

Research by Drive shows that only 10 of the 45 markets in which Tesla sells cars are right-hand drive. It is estimated just 10 per cent of vehicles sold by the company last year have their steering wheel on the right-hand side.

For context, about 30 per cent of countries place the steering wheel on the right, accounting for approximately 25 per cent of global new-car production.

Tesla’s 10 right-hand-drive markets are Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.

The US electric-car specialist is unlikely to need right-hand-drive countries to boost demand for the Cybertruck.

CEO Elon Musk told investors in October the company is holding approximately one million pre-orders for the vehicle globally – but it only plans to build 250,000 Cybertrucks annually, and a slow production ramp-up means it doesn’t expect to reach that figure until sometime in 2025.

If all pre-orders carry through to production – which they are not expected to, particularly if the electric pick-up is not sold in Australia, and given the showroom version is $US20,000 to $US30,000 dearer than the prices announced in 2019 – it would leave new buyers with a wait time of more than four, or even five years.

The first customer deliveries took place on November 30, US time – four years to the month after its unveiling as a concept, and about two years behind Tesla’s original launch schedule.

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020.

Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines at a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

Read more about Alex MisoyannisLinkIcon

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