Tesla’s long-awaited Cybertruck is a stainless steel behemoth that’s all sharp angles and flat surfaces hiding a lot of practical truck capability.
The all-electric pickup, unveiled Thursday evening, looks like a futuristic armored personnel carrier or a cousin of the B2 stealth bomber. It uses an ultra-hard, cold-rolled stainless exoskeleton instead of a traditional body on frame construction. The exterior panels are structural members. The architecture makes for a stronger, more rigid vehicle and, likely, a less costly production system, Tesla said.
If Tesla’s specifications make it to the production model, the truck will hold more, tow more and travel farther than most of today’s light-duty mass-market pickups, and at a lower price.
The Cybertruck will start at just $39,900 before any incentives. Tesla Chief Executive Musk said the automaker would begin producing the truck in late 2021. The company unveiled the truck at an event Thursday near Tesla’s Southern California design headquarters in Hawthorne. Tesla is already taking orders for the truck, which measures 19.3 feet in length and is 6.6 feet tall and 6.25 feet wide.
True to its Tesla DNA, it will go faster than any mass-market pickup. Faster, even, than a Porsche 911. Musk showed a film where the Cybertruck handily beat a current model 911. In another film clip, the Tesla truck towed a Ford F-150 while the F-150’s engine roared and its tires spun uselessly.
Tesla is pitching the truck’s toughness. But at one point, a demonstration of Tesla’s reputedly unbreakable Armor Glass went awry. A large stainless steel ball crushed two windows instead of bouncing off of them.
In a more successful demonstration, Tesla chief designer Franz von Holzhausen slammed a heavy sledgehammer into the driver-side front door several times without leaving a visible dent or scratch in its stainless steel hide.
Musk also showed a short film clip showing the damage a 9-mm pistol round did to a conventional pickup door – a big hole – and to a Cybertruck door – a circular dent with a pinprick in the center. “It is virtually bulletproof,” Musk said.
Here’s more about Tesla’s Cybertruck:
Tesla faces stiff competition from several well-financed competitors, including established players such as Ford, Ram and General Motors. Combined, they sell more than 2 million pickups annually in the U.S.
The lineup right now has late 2020 launches for Ford’s electric F-150 and electric pickups by two startups. Rivian, with $1 billion in financing from backers including Ford and Amazon, has a sporty adventure pickup in development. Lordstown Motors is updating the never-built Workhorse W-15 electric truck as the Lordstown Endurance.
Tesla’s Cybertruck will launch in 2021, along with electric pickups from General Motors and startup Bollinger Motors. Bollinger claims to have the most robust and most off-road capable truck of them all.
“It is not going to be anywhere near as easy for Tesla to grab market [with the pickup] as it was with the Model 3,” said Sam Abuelsamid, an auto analyst at Navigant Research.
The Cybertruck will be available with three different battery packs.
The base model will deliver 250 miles, Musk said. The midrange model will go 350 miles. And the top-of-the-line Cybertruck will deliver 500 miles.
Tesla didn’t provide horsepower or torque information.
The three trim levels, however, will start with a single-motor, rear-wheel-drive system, advance to the dual-motor, all-wheel drive, and top out with a triple motor, all-wheel-drive model.
The base model starts at $39,900. The mid-range dual motor model is $49,900 and the tri-motor begins at $69,900.
Ordering the truck equipped with Tesla’s future self-driving capabilities will add $7,000 for each trim level.
The prices are without any incentives. Tesla has lost eligibility for the federal EV tax credit because it hit the sales cap. But its vehicles still can qualify for state and local credits and rebates in some areas.
Colorado provides EV credits of up to $5,000, for instance, while a Cybertruck buyer in California could get both a $2,000 state rebate and a $1,000 electric utility rebate.
The base single motor model is Tesla-rated with a 0-60 mph acceleration time of just under 6.5 seconds.
The dual-motor model trims 2 seconds off that for a 0-60 sprint of under 4.5 seconds.
The tri-motor scorches the pavement with a 2.9-second time for a 0-60 run.
The single-motor model can tow 7,500 pounds, the dual-motor 10,000 pounds and the tri-motor 14,000 pounds.
The trucks can handle a 3,500-pound payload. Tesla did not provide information about how towing and payload will affect the range of the truck.
The Cybertruck will seat six.
With a 6.5-foot bed – Tesla calls it “the vault,” front trunk and under-bed storage, the Cybertruck has 100 cubic feet of cargo volume. There’s plenty of room in the bed for a single-seat ATV.
The tailgate is built with an internal, full-width ramp that slides out to make loading easier.
All three models have up to 16 inches of ground clearance and short front and rear overhangs, with a 35-degree approach angle and 28-degree departure angle – for improved ability to clamber over rocks, stumps and other objects.
Adaptable air suspension is standard and can raise or lower the Cybertruck up to 4 inches from its standard ride height.
A 17-inch touchscreen – a Tesla signature – serves as the information, entertainment and control center.
Tesla’s AutoPilot suite of driver assistance systems is standard.
Owners can cover the bed with a lockable tonneau that stores on-board.
There is additional storage under the second-row seats.
Power takeoffs for both 110- and 240-volt power tools and other equipment are standard, as is an on-board air compressor.