Many problems, actually:
1. We’re talking about a primarily American market, and it’s a scary one. Look at Toyota’s truck record: The Tacoma owns almost two-thirds of the compact/midsize truck segment in the US, but the relative newcomer, the Tundra, has never penetrated the full-size segment as hoped, despite advantages in QDR. It’s still an impostor. What if Tesla’s truck is likewise marginalized despite the strong advantage of instant torque? Disaster. Toyota can soak up the impact of a disappointing model. Tesla is still a tiny company and would suffer a serious, possibly fatal, blow to its momentum.
2. The built-in-America thing can go only so far. The Tacoma has been built primarily in America, by a Japanese company. Success! The Tundra is built exclusively in America by the same Japanese company. Failure. Pedigree doesn’t ensure success.
3. Electric and rugged don’t go together. This perception could change with time, but for now, it’s hard to accept a newfangled, technology-laden powertrain passing muster in a segment obsessed with toughness. True, many trucks never see off-road use, never plow, never need to flex or bend or tow. But that doesn’t matter. It’s all about perception. If a truck is perceived as potentially vulnerable in any way, forget it.
4. Range matters more with trucks. The truck image is mated with off-road adventurism. Ain’t no Superchargers out in the woods. Might not even be electric outlets. Again, most trucks never see a single pine needle and could easily thrive on suburban electricity, but that doesn’t matter. Perception, perception, perception.
So Tesla should let some other marque risk its reputation on an electric truck — or even a hybrid truck, here in the US. If hybrid-happy Toyota hasn’t touched this concept with a 10 foot pole, you know it’s scary indeed. It’s certainly too scary for a startup company that cannot afford a flop. Let Tesla grow into a Toyota-sized company before asking it to roll the dice on ‘Merica and its odd little truck fetish. Being first to market in this case might not be the best idea. Tesla certainly wasn’t first to market with an electric car, but that hasn’t mattered for squat.