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Tesla Truck Debut: The Future is Now

Chris Kaiser

Tesla’s long-awaited pickup truck was finally unveiled last night, and today the whole automotive world is abuzz. Check out all the specs below.

Back in June, Elon Musk set some very audacious targets for Tesla’s then forthcoming pickup truck. Musk said it would be more capable than an F-150 and nimbler than a 911. These goals were both laudable and a more than a little grandiose, especially for an electric truck. People were understandably skeptical. Last night Musk debuted Tesla’s “Cybertruck,” at the LA Autoshow, and, per usual, he gave the automotive world plenty to discuss and dissect.

Not of this World

Musk has made no secret of his abiding love for science fiction and the film Blade Runner in particular. And yet, both the public and the press were unprepared for Tesla’s Cybertruck.

Cybertruck
Cybertruck on Tesla.com

To say the Cybertruck has a radical design doesn’t come close to doing it justice. The initial impression is closer to outright incredulity. Something like, “Wow … seriously? Are we being pranked here? Really … this is for real?” Angular doesn’t begin to describe this thing. The press has been tossing around words like brutal, wacky, and, more politely, “concept-like.” Musk and his design team leaned hard into the Blade Runner aesthetic. The Tesla Cybertruck looks very much like a 1980’s idea of truck from 2019. Can a vehicle be both visionary and ugly? Visionary because it’s ugly? And be ugly because it’s so danged visionary? Yes, yes, and yes.

The Cybertruck comes in one color only, silver. And yup, that is indeed stainless steel you’re seeing for the body paneling. The same as the stuffed used in SpaceX’s Starship. It’s bulletproof, in case that comes up. This is also a unibody design, 231.7 in. long, including the 6.5 ft. bed, 79.8 in. wide and 75 in. tall. A proper full-size footprint.

Looks Weird, But those Numbers!

While the rival the Porsche Taycan might have the slightest of edges on the track versus the Model S, the Model S remains the fastest factory car for the money by a good margin. And that has been another of Musk’s many ambitious goals: to not only electrify the American fleet, but do so by making fast, and perhaps more importantly, affordable cars. So, let’s take a look at how the Cybertruck stacks up.

Cybertruck
Cybertruck on Tesla.com

While Tesla’s Cybertruck might not hit the targets set out this past June, but it does come with some outright awesome numbers. There will be three ranges will be available, targeted at the neatly round numbers of 200+, 300+, and 500+ miles. All trims will come with an air suspension and a max clearance of 16 inches. The top trim will come with a 14,000 lb. towing capacity (down slightly from the 300,000 lbs. Musk floated earlier this year), a 3,500 lb. payload, and a top speed of 130mph. The 0-60 number is appropriately ludicrous. With the “plaid” three-motor powertrain, the Cybertruck will post 2.9 seconds. That is powerful and that is fast. Though we’ll have to wait to drive it before saying whether it bests a 911 in the handling department….

The Cybertruck will also come with some cool add-ons including a bed-mounted tent for overlanding. The rendering on display at the LA Autoshow featured what looks like camping accessories that pull out from the bed of the truck. It looks like Musk isn’t ceding the playing field to Rivian when it comes to outdoor fun. In fact, Tesla designed its own electric ATV in conjunction with the Cybertruck.

Cybertruck
Cybertruck on Tesla.com

The target price for the base model could’ve been the most radical thing about Tesla’s Cybertruck if not for the body design. At $39, 900, the base Tesla truck (rear-wheel drive, single electric engine) would be competitive with the rest of the combustion engine segment and impressively low for a full-size electric pickup. But considering the difficulty Tesla has had at hitting the $35,000 mark for the Model 3, we won’t be holding our breath. The top trim, 500-mile ranger version, featuring three electric motors and all-wheel drive, is targeted for $69,900. Right in line with competitor Rivian’s truck.

So, Why Exactly are the Windows Broken?

Plays are rehearsed, movie productions have table reads, soldiers and first responders drill myriad scenarios. As the saying goes, you do not rise to the occasion, you fall to the level of your training. Practice, in other words, makes perfect. These are known things. And yet, Elon Musk’s shoot from the hip approach was on full display when it came time to showcase the new Cybertruck’s durability. Murphy’s law was in full effect.

CyberTruck
CyberTruck on Tesla.com

Musk claimed that the Cybertruck will be bulletproof, even going as far as showing impact footage from Tesla’s ballistics testing. Pretty cool stuff. But that wasn’t all, Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen was invited on stage to help demonstrate the Cybertruck’s toughness.

Franz took a sledgehammer to the door of an ordinary pickup with predicable results. The Cybertruck’s door shrugged off the same blow with nary a blemish to be seen. Hard not to be impressed there. But then Musk asked Franz to demonstrate the “shatter-proof” transparent metal glass of the Cybertruck.

What looked like two escapees from Burning Man helped with this one by dropping a metal ball on regular automotive glass from ten feet. It predictably shattered. On the pane of Tesla glass, the metal ball bounced right off. So far so good.

Tesla Cybertruck
Tesla_Cybertruck on USA Today

Then our man Franz took a metal ball in hand, and, with his best minor-league windup, chucked it into the window of the Cybertruck. To the surprise of both Franz and Musk, the window was smashed like regular automotive glass. “Well, maybe that was a little too hard,” said Musk. Franz tried it on the rear passenger window with similar results.

Musk was quick on his feet: “We’ll fix it in post,” he said. Should’ve quit while they were ahead is probably more like it. But operating safely within his limits does not seem to be in Musk’s DNA.

Musk Shatters Expectations for Good and Ill

From overly ambitious production estimates to boldly designed, crazy fast vehicles to sketchy real-world beta testing, Musk has consistently run Tesla following the Silicon Valley dictum of move fast and break things. Apparently, the things getting broken include the windows of his prototype vehicles.

Cybertruck
Cybertruck on Tesla.com

The Cybertruck offers bold looks and bold numbers. The question is, will truck lovers be won over by the impressive capabilities or repelled by the radical design? We’re excited to know either way.

The Tesla Cybertruck is slated to go into production in 2021.

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Chris Kaiser
Chris Kaiser

Chris’ greatest passions include topiary, spelunking, and pushing aging compact cars well past 200,000 miles on cross-country road trips. His taste in cars runs from the classic and esoteric to the deeply practical with an abiding affection for VW Things, old Studebakers, and all things hybrid-crossover.

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