Tesla debuts bizarre, angular Cybertruck

Tesla Cybertruck

Amid smoke and lasers, a hologram host introduced Elon Musk as he took the stage in Los Angeles to usher in Tesla’s first pickup, the Cybertruck.

The angular pickup looks like it came from a Blade Runner sequel where Deckard gives up chasing skin-jobs to run a landscaping service. It doesn’t have a single curve, but rather a faceted stainless-steel exoskeleton that Musk claimed to be dent-resistant and virtually bulletproof, as evidenced by surviving swings from a dead-blow sledgehammer that left sizable dings in an F-series door on stage as a prop. Despite urging from the crowd, Musk didn’t shoot the Cybertruck to prove its ability to stand up to assault but instead showed footage of frangible 9mm pistol rounds denting—but not penetrating—the truck’s skin, while similar rounds perforated a comparable sheet-metal panel.

Musk then touted the strength of the truck’s “transparent metal” glass with assistants dropping steel balls first onto modern automotive safety glass, which cracked immediately, and then onto a pane of Tesla’s “armor glass.” The pane survived the steel ball falling from varying heights, but both driver-side windows on the actual truck were shattered when attempting to demonstrate their hardiness.

After shrugging off the awkward moment, Musk told the assembled crowd that the Cybertruck will feature an adjustable air suspension with eight inches of travel and up to 16 inches of ground clearance, helping give the Cybertruck a 34-degree approach angle and a 28-degree departure angle for off-road maneuverability. Those stats apply to each of the three versions that will be available. A rear-wheel-drive, single-motor model with a range of 250+ miles will start at $39,900. An all-wheel-drive, two-motor version will start at $49,900 and bring a 300+ mile range. The longest-range, three-motor, all-wheel-drive Cybertruck will exceed 500 miles, tow in excess of 14,000 pounds, accelerate from 0–60 in 2.9 seconds, run a 10-second quarter-mile, and start at $69,900.

Tesla Cybertruck
Tesla

Twenty minutes into his presentation, Musk added, almost as an afterthought, “We also made an ATV,” which, unlike the Cybertruck, looked exactly as you’d expect. The truck’s tailgate dropped and a ramp that was stowed inside the tailgate extended so that the ATV could drive into the bed. It was quickly plugged in to charge using a bed-mounted cable. That’s another bonus of the Cybertruck: it has on-board 110- and 220-volt AC power along with an on-board air compressor, making it a rolling job site.

The doors of the truck were never opened, but a rendering of the interior shows seating for six. Based on the sloping roofline, rear seat headroom looks like it might be tight. Perhaps Tesla will call it the first crew-cab pickup coupe.

Tesla is currently taking deposits for the Cybertruck, and buyers will be able to further spec their pickup “as production nears in late 2021,” at which point only the rear-wheel-drive version will be available. By that time, Rivian, Ford, and General Motors could each have an electric pickup truck on the market.

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