LOS ANGELES: Tesla Inc on Thursday unveiled its first-ever pickup truck, fulfilling a promise by its Chief Executive Elon Musk to build an electric version of America`s favourite vehicle and one that threatens the heart of Detroit automakers` profits.
During the launch in Los Angeles, Musk said that the cybertruck looked liked a futuristic armoured vehicle. It will come with a price tag of USD 39,900 and a maximum range of 500-plus miles, he added .
"We need sustainable energy now. If we don`t have a pickup truck we can`t solve it. The top 3 selling vehicles in America are pickup trucks. To solve sustainable energy, we have to have a pickup truck," Tesla CEO said on Thursday, according to Reuters.
The production of Tesla's newly-launched electric ‘cybertruck' is expected to begin in 2021.
Musk had earlier said in a tweet that the truck's design was partly influenced by the Lotus Esprit sportscar that doubled as a submarine in the 1970s 007 movie "The Spy Who Loved Me".
The truck marks the first foray by Tesla, whose Model 3 sedan is the world`s top-selling battery-electric car, into pickup trucks, a market dominated by Ford Motor Co`s F-150, along with models by General Motors Co, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.
The launch of the first electric pickup has shifted Tesla more toward trucks and SUVs.
The automaker has so far sold mostly Model S and Model 3 sedans, but also offers the Model X SUV and starting next year the Model Y compact SUV.
Tesla is facing tough competition from Ford`s 450-horsepower F-150 Raptor truck, which was launched in 2009 and whose sales have since risen annually.
According to Ford spokesman Mike Levine, the annual demand is well above 19,000 vehicles and the No 2 U.S. automaker has never had to offer incentives on the model, which costs in the high $60,000 range. Besides, Ford also offers the more expensive F-150 Limited, its most powerful and luxurious pickup.
Both Ford and GM are also gearing up to challenge Tesla more directly with new offerings like the Ford Mustang Mach E electric SUV as well as electric pickups.
(With Agency inputs)