Shortly after Elon Musk announced the long-awaited Model Y compact SUV at the Tesla Design Studio on March 14, attendees and viewers were also treated to an early glimpse of the Tesla Pickup Truck… sort of.
The image, which Musk re-shared over the weekend, appears to depict little more than a black box, lights and a Tesla logo — even after brightening (the reference might actually be deliberate, ‘black box’ refers to a coding module which a user can still operate using input variables without understanding anything else about how it works).
Attendees and stream viewers mostly missed the reference, which perhaps explains why Musk decided to re-share the overlooked picture the next day. Musk described it as Tesla’s “cyberpunk truck” in the tweet, but as you can see more easily in the slightly altered version of the image below — which has been brightened using Photoshop — the alleged product could easily be mistaken for a mysterious image of a new gaming console, say, or a shadowy picture of an Amazon Echo.
In other words, it’s a teaser image that leaves onlookers largely in the dark about the vehicle, though some rumors indicate the pickup could be formally unveiled as early as the summer.
Elon Musk’s Pickup Truck Tease: What Could It Be?
At first glance, the picture looks like it depicts the cargo bed of the unreleased truck. But when Inverse raised the brightness of the render using Photoshop, it actually made image more perplexing. If it was indeed the Tesla Pickup’s cargo bed, the rear window of the vehicle should be visible in the far-right section of the picture. But instead, what would be the cargo bed tapers off into nothingness.
Tesla fans online have obviously attempted to decipher Musk’s cryptic image but this has only led to a mixed bag of theories. Redditor u/3LRD believes the image depicts the front of the car. He reasons that the Tesla logo would be on the hood rather than the bed and that the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration requires red taillights on all vehicles.
“We’re definitely seeing the front,” they wrote. “There’s no way the T would be on the back, and also no way the back lights would not be red. Even in a concept image, the rear lights are red. Why would they not be? It’s a GLOBAL requirement to have red brake lights.”
Users u/TheAmazingAaron and u/waytomuchsparetime, on the other hand, offered evidence for continuing to subscribe to the cargo bed theory. They made renders which show similar arrays on the Toyota Tundra and Cadillac Escalade EXT, respectively. On the other hand, seeing how adamant Musk has been about describing the Tesla Pickup as something out of Blade Runner, it’s unlikely he’ll borrow too heavily from other automaker’s designs.
What we know so far about the pickup truck’s designs could prove to be a bit controversial with some pickup truck consumers. A satellite installer and a farmer previously told Inverse that its look, at the fact that they may need special parts to repair it, would be dealbreakers for many in the market for a true performance vehicle. Even among enthusiasts for Tesla’s mission to accelerate the transition to fossil fuels, there remain skeptics that Tesla’s cyberpunk design will be able to deliver on practicality.
It’s an important potential market for Tesla. Pickup truck was the most popular type of car sold in the U.S. during the first half of 2018. The top three best-selling car models were all pickups, according to according to data from Kelley Blue Book. All of these models use a gas-powered engine, meaning Tesla would have little competition if it is able to among the first to deliver a mainstream electric pickup truck to market.