Tesla Cybertruck

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been teasing an electric pickup truck for so long that an entire genre of fan-inspired images has developed on the Internet predicting what it might look like. 

On Thursday night, we finally saw the real Cybertruck. It’s fair to say the prognosticators were wrong. At an LA-based event that was livestreamed, Tesla showed off a one-of-a-kind angular experiment of a truck—with an edgy design and extreme sports car acceleration—that will surely divide potential truck buyers.

“Trucks have been the same for a very long time,” Musk said. “We wanted to try something different.”

The all-electric pickup comes across as a modern, oversized DeLorean. The reaction on Twitter was swift, including, “I can’t unsee that truck,” and “Please explain.”

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Aside from the unexpected looks, the design replaces the traditional truck frame with a hard stainless steel “exoskeleton,” similar to airplane design. Musk showed off the strength of the truck’s body panels with an onstage demonstration of a sledgehammer swung hard at the door panels. Each time, the sledgehammer bounced off of the panels without leaving a mark.

A demonstration of the truck’s extra-strong glass didn’t go as well—a steel ball thrown at the truck windows cracked the glass, seemingly unexpectedly, but the windows didn’t break apart. Musk carried on the rest of the presentation standing in front of his brand-new creation with cracked and spider-webbed windows. 

The edgy design is decidedly unconventional for a pickup and promises to be polarizing. But the price and performance specifications seem likely to appeal to any would-be truck shopper. The base model starts under $40,000—about $10,000 less than predicted, and below the current price for some midrange versions of the most widely sold Ford F-150. The Tesla truck will come in three variations, with battery ranges of 250, 350, and 500 miles. The top-end version promises acceleration of 0 to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds, combined with the ability to tow 14,000 pounds. 

Tesla Cybertruck Versions

Single Motor RWDDual Motor AWDTri Motor AWD
Price$39,900 $49,900 $69,900
Range (miles)250+300+500+
0-60 mph (sec.)<6.5<4.5<2.9
Top Speed110 mph120 mph130 mph
Tow Capacity (lbs.)7,500+10,00014,000+
Payload (lbs.)3,5003,5003,500

See highlights from the LA Auto Show.

The Cybertruck unveiling came at the end of a busy LA Auto Show, which saw more than a dozen new EVs revealed, including the Ford Mustang Mach-E, an electric SUV inspired by the iconic Mustang.

Even though EVs command a tiny sliver of the car market, automakers increasingly believe the future lies in electrified powertrains, and the LA Auto Show is the biggest showcase for what’s coming in that arena.

The Cybertruck is the latest model from Tesla, presented with the aim to reduce the environmental impact of transportation. By moving into full-sized pickup trucks, Tesla is looking to disrupt a hot-selling vehicle segment that is also the least fuel-efficient. 

Tesla Cybertruck Dimensions

Tesla CybertruckFord F-150 SuperCrew 4WD
Length (in.)231.7231.9
Width (in.)79.879.9
Height (in.)7577.2
Bed (ft.)6.56.5
Tesla Cybertruck

As with the Ford Mustang Mach-E electric SUV, a successful electric pickup could broaden the market for EVs beyond early tech enthusiasts or people looking to make an environmental statement. Whether the edgy Cybertruck is the vehicle to do that will depend on consumer reaction.

But other electric pickups are coming. Startup Rivian has attracted hundreds of millions of dollars of investment and has repurposed an old Mitsubishi factory in Normal, Ill. Its R-1T pickup is slated to go on sale in late 2020 starting at $69,000. Michigan-based Bollinger is promising a muscular-looking 614-hp pickup for $125,000. Lordstown Motors, a fledgling truckmaker, is taking over the GM factory outside Youngstown, Ohio, to make electric pickups. It said Thursday that its first truck, the Endurance, would go on sale next fall starting at $52,500.

Ford and General Motors, however, won’t cede the lucrative pickup segment without a fight. The carmakers currently dominate the pickup truck market, combining for more than 90 percent of U.S. sales. Ford has promised an electric F-150. GM CEO Mary Barra told investors on Thursday that GM would also have an electric pickup on sale by 2021. 

Tesla will begin taking deposits immediately, as it has done for its other vehicles. The company states on its website that production will begin late 2021, with the top Tri Motor AWD model expected to be built in late 2022. 

Tesla Cybertruck

With vehicle delivery at least two years away, several competing electric trucks will beat Tesla to market, including a more conventional offering from Rivian, says Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports. 

“This truck looks more like a prop in a science-fiction movie than something you would see on a road,” Fisher says of Tesla’s truck. “Only time will tell if this will be a game changer in the huge market of full-sized pickup trucks, or a clever way for Tesla to raise cash through deposits. With this design at least two years from production, there’s still plenty of time for design changes.”

Tesla Cybertruck front
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