The Tesla Cybertruck is unlike anything you’ve seen before: sharp creases and angles, like something doodled by a (talented) high schooler in that boring history class, or imagined for a science fiction movie. It is also a competitively priced pickup, listed at $40,000 to $70,000 with one to three motors. Speaking of science fiction, CEO Elon Musk said delivery will be in 2021, which is as little 58 weeks away, as much as 109 weeks away. Tesla has a history of missing ship dates, and not by a small margin.
The design is so far outside the pickup truck norm, with an angled bed cover, stainless steel body, and shatterproof windows (which of course shattered during the announcement), that there is considerable belief the design will change significantly between now and the, uh, 2021 launch date. So Cybertruck may be a working name.
Specs on the Tesla Cybertruck
The Tesla Cybertruck is sized like a full-size pickup truck, which can be anywhere from 210 to 250 inches long depending on the cab size and truck bed size. For the Cybertruck, shown above overlaid on a Ford F-150, it’s 231.7 inches long with a 6.5-foot bed, 78.8 inches wide, and 75.0 inches high. So that answers the question of whether it’s a mid-size competitor (Chevrolet Colorado, Ford Ranger, Honda Ridgeline) or full-size competitor (Chevrolet Silverado, F-150, Ram 1500). It’s full-size. The Tesla has a roll-up bed cover and the tailgate drops down to act as a cargo ramp.
Most big pickups are body-on-(ladder) frame, which yields a heavier vehicle than unibody construction where there’s no separate frame. Truckers say it’s sturdier and lasts longer. Tesla is joining Honda in building a truck where the body panels — here, stainless steel — give the truck its rigidity and crash resistance.
According to the introduction presentation by Musk, the cargo bed holds 3,500 pounds. The strongest model tows 14,000 pounds, which is a serious boat or travel trailer. (Also a serious drain on travel distance.)
The entry-level Cybertruck, $39,900, has a single motor, rear drive, a range of 250-plus miles (these are all Tesla specs), a 0-60 time of 6.5 seconds, and a top speed of 110 mph. It tows 7,500 pounds. The dual-motor all-wheel-drive Cybertruck, $49,900, does 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, travels 300-plus miles on a single charge, and tows 10,000 pounds.
The top-end Cybertruck, $69,900, has three motors, runs 500-plus miles, does 0-60 in 2.9 seconds, tops out at 130 mph, and has the 14,000-pound tow capacity, more even than Ram 1500. (Which is shipping, and towing.) For this version, Musk says, production “is expected to begin in late 2022.”
Bulletproof Body, Armored Glass (Right)
Musk says the stainless steel body is bulletproof, meaning it will stop a 9mm round (“full metal jacket, 115 grain [bullet]”). The intro site being in California, which looks unkindly on ricochets hitting someone in the audience (even if it’s just journalists), a sledgehammer was used and showed a dent but not penetration. Then it was on to proving the windows are armored nicely, too …
… and wouldn’t you know it, designer Franz von Holzhausen managed to crack the driver-side window. So they tried again on the left passenger window …
… and took out that window as well. For what it’s worth, a demo dropping the same ball down a tube onto the glass from a stepladder left that glass intact. And the car’s glass cracked but the plasticized layer held the glass pieces together, with no splinters that might hurt passengers in a crash or a gunfight.
Prospects for the Tesla Truck
Tesla will not be the first to deliver an electric pickup. Startup Rivian, with lots of funding (from Ford, Amazon, and others) and a less mercurial — sorry, less colorful — guy at the helm is getting closer to production in the fall of 2020. The R1T’s specs say 750 hp and a range of 400 miles. It will tow 11,000 pounds. There’s also a similar R1S SUV.
Ford says it will spend $11.5 billion on electrification by 2020. It has $500 million in Rivian and will use Rivian technology — the skateboard chassis with the batteries, motor, and controls – on an ePickup.
Bollinger’s B2, unveiled this week at the LA Auto Show, is a rugged looker with a 614 hp engine and a price of $125,000. And General Motors just month announced it’s doing a family of premium pickups and SUVs and may resurrect the Hummer name.
Other Voices Heard
Others have upbeat thoughts on the Tesla Cybertruck.
Assuming this is really the electric pickup Tesla is going to build and not an elaborate prank, it is utterly unlike any of the upcoming electric-truck competition from Ford, General Motors, or even Lordstown [GM factory] or Rivian.
[W]hatever you think about its design, you have to be impressed by the specs. The electric pickup truck blows gas-powered pickup trucks out of the water and compares shockingly well to the Rivian R1T, the only other electric pickup with official specs.
One final piece of humor surrounding the Tesla unveiling: It was held at the same Hawthorne Municipal Airport where Ford on Sunday unveiled the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV. Elon Musk sent a congratulatory tweet to Ford saying how nice it was that Ford supports EVs. Privately, there were many reports that he was ticked that Ford’s unveiling site was within not only on the airport but within 100 yards of both the Tesla Design Studio and Musk’s SpaceX operation.
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