Elon Musk has already taken on the auto industry and space travel. But is he ready to take on Texas?
It seems we're going to find out, judging from the news that Tesla Motors, Musk's media-darling electric car company, is planning to build a pickup truck within the next five years. To date, Tesla has carved out a profitable niche selling eco-friendly luxury sedans to wealthy techies. It's still working on a crossover SUV for 2014 and a cheaper sedan for 2016 (not to mention dealing with a spate of battery fires). But, never short of ambition, Musk told Business Insider yesterday that Tesla intends to eventually produce a pickup modeled on the Ford F-150, America's top-selling vehicle.
Pulling that off would be a rather remarkable design feat. Ford, for its part, is aiming to have a mere hybrid version of the F-150 ready for 2020.
But making a viable Tesla pickup could be an even more daunting marketing challenge. While California, Tesla's home base and the source of half its customers, is by far the largest market for electric cars, Texas rules pickups. The state is responsible for one in six sales nationally. As Automotive News recently wrote, more pickups are sold in Dallas and Houston combined than any other state.