In what is likely the most controversial automotive reveal of the last couple of decades, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk Thursday night unveiled his long-talked-about reimagining of the pickup truck.
And boy did it stir up some strong emotions in folks. But, looking like this, how could it not?
Check out our full video coverage and discussion of the Cybertruck for all the details, pricing, specs and comparisons to Ford, Chevy and Ram pickups, or read on for more details:
For months Musk has been saying the truck would look like something out of the movie Blade Runner and now we know he wasn’t kidding. My initial reaction upon seeing it was that it looked like what would happen if you tasked the original PlayStation to render a truck that’s supposed to look like a Delorean mashed up with a Chevrolet Avalanche.
I don’t necessarily mean that in a negative way. I do like the futuristic direction, and while I’m not willing to say this design is “good,” I will say kudos to Tesla for putting out a design that is different. You can call it ugly or say it looks like something out of the early days of 3D video games, but you can’t say it’s not bold.
Most car and truck prototypes and concepts that automakers actually let us see nowadays rarely go into production the same way they were dreamt up. In between they are watered down to make them more palatable and easier to manufacture at scale for our crossover-crazed culture. If and when Tesla delivers the Cybertruck, I’m fairly confident it will look like this. Plus, we’ve only known what the Cybertruck looks like for less than 24 hours and in that time frame I’ve seen more social media takes from non-car-and-truck-people on the design than I’ve seen on any vehicle in recent memory. It is highly engaging, even more highly polarizing and I’d say that’s a good thing.
Enough opinion. Let’s move on to the facts.
First of all, though the Cybertruck has some impressive specifications and some early renderings of this truck made it seem like it would be a mini version of Tesla’s semi truck, this truck is not meant to compete in the heavy duty pickup space. It is a unibody design meant to compete with half-ton pickups. And that’s an important fact to keep in mind, especially considering the design decisions made with this truck.
Second, one thing that Tesla definitely got right with the Cybertruck is starting price. The base configuration starts at $39,900. Given the materials the truck is made of and the impressive capability it has, that’s one hell of a deal. In fact, it’s such a low price point that many out there are wondering if Tesla will actually be able to deliver a production model of this truck at that price point.
Why you ask? Well, for starters the truck is made of cold-rolled steel and that ain’t cheap. During the event Musk said this is literally bulletproof metal and added that it’s the same steel his other company, Space X, is using to make its rocket for travel to Mars. To show off the durability of this steel compared to the conventional pickup, Musk brought out what looked like the door panel to a Ford F-150 and hit it with a sledgehammer. It predictably dented. (A note: that panel was likely made from aluminum so this by default is not an apples-to-apples comparison.) They took the same sledgehammer to the Cybertruck and it bounced back without leaving a mark on the Tesla pickup.
The other pricey durability feature on this truck is—supposedly—its glass. I say supposedly because when it came time to demonstrate the toughness of the “Armor Glass,” things didn’t go well. After a pane of the glass that wasn’t actually on the truck survived the drop of a steel ball from considerable height, Musk asked Tesla designer Franz von Holzhausen to chuck that same steel ball at the windows of the Cybertruck. He did. Twice. And twice the grass shattered. At least “It didn’t go through,” Musk said with a chuckle. (You can see footage of the failed demo in our video above.)
Other features on the truck include
- 4-inch suspension
- On-board power and compressed air
- Integrated roll-up bed cover
- Six-seat interior
- Yoke steering wheel
- Rear view display
And lordy at all the lightbars on this thing. For starters, there aren’t traditional headlamps. Instead you have two strips of LEDs, one on the front and one on the back, that serve as the headlights and tail lights. Then, above the windshield and at the apex of the truck’s triangular profile, there’s another lightbar. Plus, the bed is surrounded by LED strips.
The truck also has some impressive off-road specs including 16 inches of ground clearance, 35 degrees of approach angle and 28 degrees of departure angle.
So with all that being said, $39,900 is a bit hard to believe when you see what this truck can dish out at that price point.
Every configuration of the Cybertruck can haul 3,500 pounds of payload. The differences in configurations center around how many electric motors you put in the truck. Here’s how they break down:
$39,900 Single Motor:
- Rear-wheel drive
- 250 miles of range
- 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds
- 110 mph top speed
- 7,500 lbs. towing capacity
$49,900 Dual Motor
- All-wheel drive
- 300 miles of range
- 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds
- 120 mph top speed
- 10,000 lbs. towing capacity
$69,900 Tri Motor
- All-wheel drive
- 500 miles of range
- 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds
- 130 mph top speed
- 14,000 lbs. towing capacity
How does the Cybertruck compare to conventional half-ton trucks?
Each of those configurations offers a pretty impressive list of specs for the price points. But how does it really compare to the pickups on the market today? During the event, Musk put up a slide that, if true, means that owners of the Cybertruck can expect much lower cost of ownership compared to other pickups.
The slide showed that the $49,900 Cybertruck will cost owners $570 each month when adding up a $500 lease payment, $40 for electricity and $30 in maintenance costs. For comparison, Musk said the average half-ton pickup selling for $48,000 will cost owners $700 each month when adding up a $430 lease, $130 in fuel costs and $90 in maintenance costs.
As far as spec comparisons go, Tesla didn’t reveal how much horsepower or torque the Cybertruck makes and it seems like the final powertrain options aren’t all nailed down quite yet. However, we can compare towing and payload.
Here’s how each Cybertruck configuration compares to the top tow-ers in the 2020 half-ton class:
- Cybertruck Tri Motor: 14,000 lbs.
- Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with 6.2L V8: 13,400 lbs.
- Ford F-150 with 3.5L EcoBoost V6: 13,200 lbs.
- Ram 1500 with 5.7L HEMI V8: 12,750 lbs.
- Ram 1500 with EcoDiesel V6: 12,560 lbs.
- GMC Sierra with 6.2L V8: 12,100 lbs.
- Ford F-150 with 3L Power Stroke Diesel: 11,400 lbs.
- Cybertruck Dual Motor: 10,000 lbs.
- Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with 3L Duramax Diesel: 9,300 lbs.
- GMC Sierra with 3L Duramax Diesel 9,100 lbs.
- Cybertruck Single Motor: 7,500 lbs.
And here’s how the Cybertruck compares when it comes to max payload figures:
- Cybertruck (6.5-ft. box): 3,500 pounds
- Ford F-150 (8-foot box): 3,270 lbs.
- Ram 1500 (6-ft., 4-in. box): 2,300 lbs.
- Chevy Silverado (5-ft., 8-in. box): 2,250 lbs.
Those are both pretty impressive comparisons given that this is Tesla’s first go at a pickup. And when you add in the cool factor of a truck that can go 0-60 in less than 3 seconds, it makes the whole package go down a lot easier.
The big question is whether or not Tesla did enough with this truck when it comes to winning over people who love trucks. Musk has said he wasn’t particularly worried about that factor and the unveiling of this truck attests to that, including a complete lack of details on important truck things like How am I supposed to reach into or throw/load things into the bed from the side? or Are there tie downs? or How easy is it going to be to get parts?
With that in mind, folks who love truck are likely not won over at this point and it’s very hard to blame them. Then there’s simply the issue of whether or not we’ll actually see this thing go into production in its current form. Tesla says the truck won’t go into production until 2021. And the tri-motor configuration won’t go into production until 2022. By then it’s not a far-out possibility that Ford and Chevy could both have their own electric pickups on the market with specs that meet or exceed these.
Which, honestly makes all of this hype and fury feel a bit silly. Good on Tesla for taking a big swing with the Cybertruck. Now we wait to see if they knock it out of the park or if this whole thing is an infield out.