Tesla Cybertruck: launch date, specs and details for cyberpunk pickup truck

The next-gen vehicle is about to launch.

Elon Musk debuted the Tesla Cybertruck on Thursday night. Read the full story: Tesla Cybertruck pics, price: “Doesn’t look like anything else,” Elon Musk says

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Tesla’s next vehicle has a launch date, and all signs add up to something surprising.

The Tesla Pickup Truck has been somewhat shrouded in mystery since it was first suggested in 2016, but it’s gradually formed something of a passion project for CEO Elon Musk. It’s going to have a “cyberpunk” design. It’s going to look like something out of Blade Runner. All of the publicized concept art guesses are wrong. In short, it could end out as one of Tesla’s most surprising designs yet.

On November 6, Musk confirmed via Twitter that the truck — which he has referred to on multiple occasions as the “cybertruck” — will be unveiled on November 21 in Los Angeles near SpaceX’s rocket factory.

That same day, a trademark filing was filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for this logo:

Tesla's Cybertruck logo.
Tesla's Cybertruck logo.

Anticipation is running high, including from Musk’s brother Kimbal:

Kimbal Musk hyping up the truck.
Kimbal Musk hyping up the truck.

As the run-up to the launch continues, Musk has refused to take his foot off the hype accelerator. During the company’s third-quarter earnings call on October 23, where Tesla reported surprisingly large profits, Musk declared that the vehicle could be the company’s best product ever.

“I think we’ve said enough about the Tesla Cyber Truck,” Musk said during the call. “We’re not going to — this is not the right forum for us to do product launches. But I think it would be — I mean, my opinion, and this could be totally wrong. I could be totally out to lunch here, but I think the Tesla Cyber Truck is our best product ever. That’s my opinion.”

For a company that counts the Model S, Model X and Model 3 in its current lineup, it’s a bold claim.

Tesla alloy wheels
What will Tesla's Pickup Truck look like?

Tesla Pickup Truck: Musk teases design and features

The upcoming vehicle forms the final third of Tesla’s strategy to reach a mass-market audience, which started with the Tesla Model 3 that launched in July 2017 and continued with the Tesla Model Y that received a full unveiling in March 2019.

“I can’t talk about the details, but it’s gonna be like a really futuristic-like cyberpunk, ‘Blade Runner’ pickup truck,” Musk said in October 2018. “It’s gonna be awesome, it’s gonna be amazing. This will be heart-stopping. It stops my heart. It’s like, oh, it’s great […] I actually don’t know if a lot of people will buy this pickup truck or not, but I don’t care.”

During a fireside chat with lieutenant general John Thompson at the Los Angeles Air Force Base in November, Musk also described it as looking like it “came off a movie set…like, ‘whoa, what is that thing.’”

The truck has earned a reputation as a passion project for Musk, even before it’s launch. Although Musk has indicated that he doesn’t care what people think about the final design, during his chat with Thompson he explained a bit more about why he’s pressing ahead with a vehicle that may hold niche value:

“People try to make products they think others would love but they don’t love themselves. If you don’t love the product, you should not expect that others will…if it’s compelling to you, it will be compelling to them.”

The Rivian R1T, as photographed in 2018.
The Rivian R1T, as photographed in 2018.

Musk’s passion project could face stiff competition when it launches, however. The Rivian R1T is an upcoming all-electric pickup truck that boasts a $69,000 price tag before subsidies, 0-60 acceleration time of three seconds, five seats, and a range of 400 miles. At Amazon’s September 25 event, the R1T was spotted sporting Alexa integration to control the car. The American automaker is reportedly considering a subscription model for its launch next year.

Where Tesla previously blazed a trail with high battery range, Rivian’s launch could put the pressure on the company’s upcoming vehicle to wow audiences.

The magic final details could propel Tesla into the spotlight, attracting rugged offroad fans to a vehicle built for the future. Musk has made a number of bold statements about the car’s functionality designed to appeal to this niche. It will be better than the Ford F-150. It will be a better sports car than the Porsche 911. It needs great functionality, a price of $49,000 or less. It “won’t look like a normal truck.”

Musk first mentioned the idea back in the July 2016 master plan. Together with the Model 3 entry-level sedan and the Model Y, the three vehicles would together be enough to bring Tesla, and by extension all electric vehicles, to a mass market. The electric pickup truck market is notably thin, bar the Workhorse W-15 with just 80 miles of range, and the Rivian R1T with an undetermined release date. This lack of competition gives Tesla an opportunity to become an instant leader once the truck hits roads in earnest.

However, Inverse interviews have revealed that pickup truck drivers are concerned about Musk’s comments. Musk has described it as “cyberpunk,” teasing an innovative design that could surprise fans. One Reddit user called “dinozero” wrote on the company’s subreddit that “every comment he’s made about the truck has made me nervous.”

Tesla’s teasers have revealed why Musk refers to it as a Blade Runner design:

Tesla truck teaser.
Tesla truck teaser.

In October, Musk revealed that most concept art guesses on the internet are wrong, including this one from Emre Husmen:

“I sent Elon a picture of a truck and I said, ‘hey man, this looks […] dope’,” Joe Rogan said in a recent podcast episode. “He’s like, ‘that’s not really our truck.’ He said…what was his words? It’s ‘more Blade Runner-esque’.”

Musk claimed a few days later that it looks “closer to an armored personnel carrier from the future.” For reference, here’s a Boxer APC used by the German Army:

Boxer APC.
Boxer APC.

Beyond Musk, Tesla leaders are keeping tight-lipped about the product’s design. When Franz von Holzhausen, Tesla’s head designer, was asked in an October interview whether it really lives up to Musk’s expectations, he responded: “You just have to wait and see.”

Anticipations are running high for what could be a surprising reveal. Here’s what we know:

When will Tesla Pickup Truck be revealed?

The vehicle is expected to be unveiled on November 21.

The Tesla Pickup Truck was set to launch sometime after the Tesla Model Y. That car was revealed on March 14, 2019, with plans for the first ones to roll off the production line in the fall of 2020. During the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call in January, Musk suggested that the truck may be ready for an unveiling in the summer. By July 2019, Musk had revised this to suggest a September or October release date. In September, Musk pushed it back again to November.

The date places a launch two years after the second-generation Roadster and Semi truck graced audiences.

How much will Tesla Pickup Truck cost?

Tesla has yet to provide any clues about pricing, but Musk seems to be teasing the vehicle as a passion project to excite people. The last time Tesla let loose in such a way was with the Model X, which features exotic design choices like its falcon wing doors. This made the sports utility vehicle a pain to manufacture, but set it apart as a fun yet functional vehicle. With the Model X starting at $79,500, a price around this range could make sense.

Tesla Pickup Truck Artist Renderings
When one searches on Google for "Tesla pickup truck," there is no shortage of imagined renderings.

In June, Musk suggested on a podcast that the truck could cost $49,000:

“You’ve got to be able to get a really great truck for $49,000 or less. It’s gotta have incredible functionality from a load-carrying standpoint, look amazing,” Musk said. “The goal is to be a better truck than the F-150, in terms of truck-like functionality. And be a better sports car than a [Porsche 911].”

What is the battery range for Tesla Pickup Truck?

If there’s one place where Tesla excels, it’s battery range. The Model 3 is positioned at the entry level, but even the $35,000 version will offer a range of 220 miles, with the long-range version achieving 310 miles. With the second-generation Roadster set to stun with 620 miles of range, and the Model S already offering 393 miles of NEDC range on the 100 kilowatt-hour versions, the Pickup Truck could potentially offer a range somewhere around the mid 300s on the low end.

Musk stated in June 2018 that the truck will offer a 400 to 500-mile option “definitely,” also “maybe” going even higher. He also stated in February 2017 that the pickup truck could “maybe” go above 100 kilowatt-hours in terms of battery storage.

The Rivian R1T pickup truck, by comparison, is expected to offer 400 miles of range when production starts next year.

What will be the Tesla Pickup Truck seating capacity?

It’s unclear at this stage, but the pickup truck configuration allows for a number of seat layouts. The Toyota Hilux, something of a legend in this field, comes in two seat, four seat and five seat setups. Tesla has also been known to push the boundaries for number of seats you can expect, as the Model S sedan comes with an optional two extra child seats to create a seven seat configuration, unusual in a car of this size. With that in mind, don’t be surprised if the Pickup Truck comes with an impressive number of seats.

Musk also suggested in June 2018 that it will come with an especially large driver seat:

Sir, this will not be some a dainty little buttercup of a truck! Driver’s seat will be big enough to fit André the giant (love that guy).

How will the Tesla Pickup Truck be manufactured?

The Pickup Truck is shaping up to be unlike the Model 3 and Model Y. Tesla’s most recent car, and its next upcoming car, were both built with big quantities in mind. They were designed for easy production, able to meet the projected one million car per year global demand for the Model 3. However, Musk has referred on several occasions to the “over-engineered” design of the Model X, so while the Pickup Truck is likely to ship in smaller quantities than the Model 3 with reduced regard for mass production, it may not prove the huge challenge the Model X presented.

Musk confirmed as much during the company’s second-quarter earnings call. He explained how the Model 3 sales demand is somewhere around 750,000 vehicles per year, and the Model Y will probably rank at around 1.25 million. The Model S and X rank in with around 80,000 to 100,000 per year, and then the Pickup Truck and Semi Truck receive increasingly smaller demand. Musk summed up by noting that “from a volume standpoint, they’re not all that important in the long-term.”

As for the materials? In November 2018 he said it would be titanium, while in November 2019 he said the cabin would be bullet-proof.

What else has Elon Musk said about Tesla Pickup Truck?

Musk said in a November interview that “I can’t talk about the details, but it’s gonna be like a really futuristic-like cyberpunk, ‘Blade Runner’ pickup truck. It’s gonna be awesome, it’s gonna be amazing. This will be heart-stopping. It stops my heart. It’s like, oh, it’s great.” He later stated that “I actually don’t know if a lot of people will buy this pickup truck or not, but I don’t care,” before stating that “I do care, eventually” as “we wanna get gasoline, diesel pickup trucks off the road.” Musk said that “if there’s only a small number of people that like that truck, I guess we’ll make a more conventional truck in the future. But it’s the thing that I am personally most fired up about.”

Musk took to Twitter back in June to find out what people want from a Pickup Truck. Plans include dual-motor all-wheel drive, “crazy” levels of torque, suspension with dynamic load adjustment, and more. It will also pack power outlets for using 240-volt, high-power tools all day without a generator. Musk even suggested a utility port to make use of the air compression system.

Musk also hinted that the car could use the same “Hardware 2” sensor suite that would one day enable full autonomous driving, claiming that it would parallel park and offer 360-degree cameras and sonar. 

With the launch expected later in November, expect more details soon.