Saturday, June 15, 2024

Kim Kardashian, ‘Cool Carpool Mom,’ Gets a Cybertruck as EV Market Stumbles

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Tesla gets a Kardashian bump but other EV leaders continue to swerve on the market’s uneven terrain.

Kim Kardashian is turning heads again by flaunting a new Tesla Cybertruck, marking her as one of the early adopters of the new EV. The reveal comes amidst Tesla’s stock resilience in the face of industry challenges, while Mercedes-Benz announces a significant pivot in its electric vehicle strategy, indicating a more gradual transition away from gasoline-powered vehicles than previously anticipated.

Kardashian, the billionaire mogul behind labels Skims and SKKN, shared images of the electric truck on her Instagram, dubbing herself a “Cool Carpool Mom.” The new EV is also a favorite of celebrities including Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian, Pharrell Williams, Spike Lee, and Lady Gaga. While the price tag isn’t as hefty as some other luxury vehicles, clocking in at $60,990 and $99,990, the Cybertruck’s allure lies not just in its futuristic design but in its rarity, with Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk noting an annual production cap of 200,000 to 250,000 units through at least 2025.

Its popularity is also coming amid “Rustgate” — new owner concerns that the vehicles are rusting. The automaker hit back, calling the small spots normal blemishes that result from fine iron particles that can appear during manufacturing and shipping. It’s something Tesla says is normal for all vehicles but is more noticeable on the truck’s steel body.

Kim Kardashian's Cyber Truck.
Kim Kardashian shows off her new Tesla Cybertruck | Courtesy/Instagram

While the Kardashian bump carries some weight, Tesla’s stock remains steady for numerous reasons amid a tumultuous market for its peers. The company’s stock has shown resilience, even as competitors like Rivian Automotive and Lucid Group face downturns following less-than-stellar financial forecasts. Elon Musk, in a candid critique on the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter), pointed to Rivian’s precarious financial trajectory, sparking a debate about the competitive dynamics within the EV sector.

Rivian, Lucid, Mercedes-Benz recalculate

Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said in a statement on Wednesday that the automaker firmly believes in the full electrification of the automotive industry, but recognizes “the challenging macro-economic conditions” in the short term. The company saw its share prices drop 17 percent in extended trading after announcing a drop in estimated units for the year. Rivian’s initial forecast of more than 81,000 vehicles was reduced to 57,000 — about the same as last year. According to MarketWatch, Lucid saw its revenue drop to $157.2 million — down nearly 50 percent from $258 million a year ago. Lucid’s average price calculated by units sold, was about $91,000 per vehicle in Q4 of last year, with Rivian’s price averaging around $94,000, compared to Tesla’s $44,000.

Rivian trucks.
Courtesy Rivian

This industry-wide scrutiny comes at a time when affordability and market saturation of luxury EVs pose significant challenges. Tesla’s unique position, offering relatively affordable electric vehicles, contrasts sharply with the higher average prices of Lucid and Rivian models. The necessity for more accessible EV options is underscored by the market’s saturation of luxury electric models and the negligible penetration of battery-electric vehicles in the nonluxury segment.

The market challenges have led luxury automaker Mercedes-Benz to recalibrate its electric vehicle ambitions, stepping back from its earlier commitment to an all-electric lineup by the end of the decade. The German automaker now aims for electrified vehicles to comprise 50 percent of its sales by 2030, a stark reduction from its previous target. Mercedes says it “will be able to cater to different customer needs well into the 2030s.” This strategic adjustment reflects a broader industry acknowledgment of the complex interplay between consumer demand, technological readiness, and economic realities, despite Mercedes-Benz’s notable increase in all-electric vehicle sales in 2023.

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