Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, promised a “very satisfying” design with Blade Runner cues for his company’s pickup truck. Here in Los Angeles in November 2019, wild Tesla Cybertruck will naturally excite loyal heart episodes and provoke traditionalists everywhere. The automotive world has never seen a brutal wedge design like this since the Seventy concept car, and it’s safe to say there have never been pickups like this outside of science fiction film sets.
First things first: Yes, that’s what production trucks will see when they start rolling in the line in 2021. The similarity to other oblique-faced vehicles made of stainless steel that promises the future must be a coincidence.
Musk began his presentation with a group of pickup side profile pictures for decades to highlight how unchanged the shape really is. And the Tesla change came in a triangular cabin pickup truck where the exterior body panel was actually a “30X Cold-Rolled ultra-hard steel bulletproof structural exoskeleton.” Say goodbye to body-on-frame construction; it is the same material used on the StarsX spacecraft. We just started here.
It looks big, but it’s more of a hoax from a crazy design than it really is. Cybertruck has a length of 231.7 inches (with a bed of 6.5 feet), a width of 79.8 inches, and a height of 75 inches, which places it in the normal range of a half-ton truck currently dependent on the length of the bed.
To prove how tough his body was, Musk invited Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen on the stage to slap the Ford and Cybertruck pickup doors with a sledgehammer. Ford is very dent. Tesla does not.
Clearly, Tesla Cybertruck also offers parting with traditional internal combustion pickup trucks with an electric powertrain trio: single motor rear wheel drive, all dual motor wheel drive, and all tri motor wheel drive.
The latter is something that Tesla is working on for a while with the prototype of the Tesla Model S boxes, and given the advantage of torque vectoring off the piste we are not surprised to see it available here. Horsepower and torque figures are not yet available.
Likewise, definite battery specifications have not yet been released, but RWD trucks will have a range of 250+ miles, dual motor AWD will reach 300+ miles, and tri-motor AWD trucks promise 500 miles to provide the longest range of electric vehicles sold today.
In terms of raw capabilities, Musk claims Cybertruck will run the tables. The load capacity is said to be 3,500 pounds, far into the area of heavy duty trucks, and the most important towing figures are as follows:
- Single-motor RWD: 7,500+ pounds
- Dual-motor AWD: 10,000+ pounds
- Tri-motor AWD: 14,000+ pounds
The 300,000 pounds that Musk talked about last year were not found. But we will take realism where we can get it in this case. The AWD tri-motor powertrain will produce Tesla’s standard fast acceleration in the form of 2.9 seconds to 60 mph and 10.8 seconds a quarter of a mile – plus a surprising top speed of 130 mph.
And thanks to the standard air suspension, it will also offer up to 16 inches of ground clearance and a 33-degree approach angle like a Jeep for off-road travel. The approach angle is the same as the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, and the angle of departure is the best from the Jeep Gladiator.
The bed, in fact there is a hidden bed in that triangle that turns into a lockable trunk of 100 cubic feet with a roller cover, it is not the only storage on board. There is also a puckered and (presumably optional) compartment along the roof line tilted down behind the rear side windows. Speaking of which, they are made of armored glass that accidentally broke during the stage show when von Holzhausen threw a steel ball at him. Musk seemed sincerely surprised and said that it was the first time the glass was broken during that particular test.
Being a Tesla, there are a lot of extras. Yes, Musk really states that the exoskeleton body can stop a 9mm round, although there is no information on a specific armor classification. The trimotor truck will come with a standard autopilot to offer you the most advanced ADAS offer on the market. There will be outputs on board 110 volts and 220 volts plus an air compressor to power electric and pneumatic tools. It seats six people with a jump seat at the front-middle point. The press photos also show a rectangular steering wheel and a single screen mounted in the center on the board, as well as a panoramic glass roof. There is another photo in the press kit that shows some planned extras, such as a bed tent and a folding kitchen, definitely not a land-centered Rivian photo, no sir.
And, of course, Musk did his usual “one more thing” trick to show a second new product on stage on Thursday night. Tesla will manufacture an electric ATV called Cyberquad that comfortably fits the Cybertruck’s bed and can charge its largest battery. It also has at least one working prototype, as another assistant climbed one onto the stage and put it in bed through a convenient folding ramp at the back door.
Perhaps the most striking is the initial price. The RWD base Tesla Cybertruck will start at $ 39,900, a surprise to many who expected a sticker of around $ 50,000 minimum. That’s where the AWD dual-engine truck will start, while the three-engine stomp will cost almost $ 70,000 with no options. It is available to order now with a $ 100 deposit, and the configurator is live on the Tesla website. Production is scheduled to begin in 2021 for the two cheapest versions and by the end of 2022 for the trimotor truck.
It would be forgiven if all this feels like a feverish dream: the harassed presentation certainly had that feeling sometimes, and no one expected that the Cybertruck really looked like it came out of the Blade Runner set. In a hypothetical 2024 electric truck market where customers can choose between the mostly conventional
Rivian RT1 and the Ford F-150 BEV, which will probably look like a truck, it is fair to question the demand for something like this. Musk is also making some typically strong claims in a segment that doesn’t really suffer fools. Or are we all dumb and Musk is showing us the future? We know this: the next decade will be interesting.