Shares of Tesla (TSLA 1.47%) were trading sharply lower on Friday morning after the Thursday-night reveal of the company's Cybertruck pickup fell short of expectations.
As of 11:00 a.m. EST, Tesla's shares were down about 6% from Thursday's closing price.
Investors had expected Tesla's much-touted pickup truck to be a more-or-less forthright electric challenger to the huge-selling (and hugely profitable) full-size pickups from Ford Motor (F 5.10%), General Motors (GM 2.78%), and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU).
But CEO Elon Musk had other plans.
As you can see, Tesla's Cybertruck is a jarringly angular stainless-steel-bodied behemoth that looks like it escaped from the set of a dystopian sci-fi film. While the claims for range and towing capacity and so forth are impressive -- as one would expect from Tesla -- the design of the Cybertruck and its decidedly oddball features suggest strongly that it will be a niche product at best -- and that much development work remains to be done.
At least in its current form, it's not a truck for truck buyers. That means it's unlikely to sell in anything like Detroit-pickup volumes, and investors appear to be adjusting their expectations accordingly.
Customers can reserve a Cybertruck with a deposit of just $100, a hint that Tesla might be hoping to rack up strong reservation numbers. Good early numbers might impress investors, but take note: Tesla's site warns that the first deliveries won't happen until late 2021 at the earliest, and GM and Ford are both expected to have battery-electric pickups on sale by then.
It's far too early to even guess how the competition will shape up, but -- at least right now -- auto investors seem to think that Tesla missed an opportunity.