Ford spokesman Mike Levine did not respond to a request for comment, but tweeted out a GIF of a laughing Ryan Gosling.

Analysts following the reveal were skeptical the vehicle could make a dent in the lucrative pickup segment, especially with Ford and General Motors both working on their own electric pickups.

GM CEO Mary Barra said the automaker's first electric pickup truck model will go on sale in the fall of 2021. "It will be a very capable truck, I'm pretty excited about it," Barra said at an investor conference in New York on Thursday.

Ford aims to sell an electric F-series in late 2021, Reuters reported.

Electric pickups and SUVs could help Ford and GM generate the significant EV sales they will need to meet tougher emission standards and EV mandates in California and other states. The Trump administration is moving to roll back those standards, but electric trucks are a hedge if California prevails

Demand for full-size electric pickups in the near term may not be huge. Industry tracking firm IHS Markit estimates the electric truck segment - both full- and midsize models - will account for about 75,000 sales in 2026, compared with an expected 3 million light trucks overall. The Tesla pickup is not part of that estimate.

Tesla's pickup "will be a niche product at best and poses no threat in the pickup market as we know it today," Matt DeLorenzo, senior executive editor at Kelley Blue Book, said in a statement. "The other downside is that this truck will have no federal tax credits by the time it comes out.”

Tesla's Model 3 sedan is the world's top-selling battery electric car. The California-based 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.

Reactions on Twitter ranged from love to hate of Tesla's sharply angled vehicle.

"I just watched tesla release the #cybertruck and honestly? My life feels complete," wrote @aidan_tenud, while @nateallensnyde wrote "Its nice to see Elon Musk make a cardboard box car he drew in kindergarten."

Musk earlier tweeted that the design was partly influenced by the Lotus Esprit sports-car that doubled as a submarine in the 1970s James Bond film "The Spy Who Loved Me" as well as by the movie Blade Runner.

Reuters contributed to this report

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The campaign amounts to a significant effort for a vehicle that is being launched into an EV market that remains niche, despite much hype.

Year-to-date, 175,350 electric vehicles have been sold in the U.S, which is less than 2 percent of all vehicle sales, according to figures provided by Kelley Blue Book sourced from insideevs.com. Tesla dominates EVs, selling 491,602 since 2010, compared with just 9,787 by Ford.

But the Mach-E represents a mindshift for Ford, which had previously sold electrified versions of more economy-minded models, like Focus, rather than a brand like Mustang that is known for performance. “This is a huge play by Ford to get serious about EVs,” says Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Kelley Blue Book. It is as much of a corporate branding play as anything, he notes, driven by a desire to be perceived by consumers and analysts as “a forward-thinking, progessive company.”

Ford’s push follows moves by other high-performance brands to take on Tesla, including Audi, which has poured significant marketing behind its new “e-tron” SUV, the first of three battery electric vehicles the luxury brand will introduce over three years. Jaguar, meanwhile, has run TV ads for its electric I-PACE SUV, including one that uses the phrase “roar silently.”

But Brauer says Ford’s Mach-E fills a gap for U.S. buyers who prefer domestic brands and might be lured into buying an EV backed by an iconic brand such as Mustang that has been around a lot longer than Tesla.

Still, he says that does not guarantee the Mach-E will be “an overnight success.” There “is not going to be a single model that comes out in one fell swoop and turns the world into an EV-buying world,” he adds. “It’s going to be a long process of knocking down barriers and knocking down resistance from various demographics one-by-one.”

Ford is targeting a group of buyers it refers to internally as “lovers of the new,” which it refers to in internal documents as “LOTN.” 

“These are folks who are younger, more educated, more affluent,” VanDyke says. “Most of them...have never shopped Ford before. So we are absolutely interested in expanding the audience and bringing new people into the brand.”

Still, Ford wants to avoid turning off Mustang loyalists, some of whom might find anything resembling an SUV to be blasphemous for the pony car brand built on sports coupes. That is why Ford put an emphasis on reaching out to Mustang clubs, including flying members of the enthusiast groups to Detroit to get a behind the scenes look at the Mach-E. Some members of California-based Mustang clubs were scheduled to participate in Sunday’s reveal event.

Ford is also trying to leverage its network of 2,000 dealers who are “certified, trained EV dealers,” VanDyke says, referring to the vast dealer network as a “competitive advantage” over Tesla. The dealers, he says, “are completely motivated to activate their active their loyal owner base.”

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