They hit its steel alloy body with a sledgehammer. They shot it with a 9-millimeter handgun gun. They showed off the toughness of its glass by dropping weights on it from a decent height. And they did it dressed as macho cybergoths.
This was the Tesla Cybertruck unveiling on Thursday night.
“Welcome to the cybertruck unveil,” Musk said, triumphantly lifting his arms above his head, a little after 8 p.m. local time from the Tesla headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
Let’s talk about that design: Four lines dominate the vehicle. The front, the windshield, a slope toward the back, and the rear. That is essentially Cybertruck. It’s ugly, but its future ugly. And like every Tesla vehicle that has been released to date, it’s an absolute curiosity, inside and out.
Tesla Cybertruck features
Its body, made from that stainless steel alloy, also boasts a 100 cubic feet in the bed and a 6.5” length. It carries up to 3,500 pounds and can tow 14,000 pounds. It goes 0-60 in 2.9 seconds and does the quarter-mile in 10.8 seconds. It has 16-inch clearance and “adaptive air suspension” to handle various cargo weights.
The least-interesting thing about Teslas, in 2019, is that they are electric cars.
Tesla Cybertruck price
The Tesla Cybertruck starts at $39,900 for the single-motor edition. The base price caused the live audience to gasp and then cheer. “You can order right now if you’d like,” Musk said, before dropping the URL:
tesla.com/cybertruck. A dual-motor all-wheel-drive version costs $49,900 and a tri-motor all-wheel-drive version costs $69,900. The Tesla Autopilot system, which comes optional, costs $7,000.
Tesla Cybertruck release date
Production on the truck will begin in late 2021, with the tri-motor all-wheel drive version going into production a year later, in late 2022.
Tesla goes after Ford
Musk took several shots at Ford — maker of the F-150, the best-selling truck in America. A member of his team hit a Ford truck door with a sledgehammer during a comparison test; Musk showed a video of the Cybertruck towing a Ford in a tug-of-war; he knocked “Built Ford Tough” slogan when he said, “If you want a truck that’s really tough — not fake tough — you want a truck you can take a sledgehammer to, doesn’t scratch, won’t dent…” The Ford F-150 has beat the Tesla in one area though—base price. It is about $28,500, but goes up considerably with options.
Musk did note at the top of his presentation that there was a bigger reason for making a pickup truck, more than an homage to dark sci-fi and an excuse to wear a lot of leather. After all, more than 1.5 million pickup trucks were sold in 2019, a screen behind him informed the audience.
“We need sustainable energy now. If we don’t have pickup truck, we don’t solve it. So I present to you the Cybertruck.”
The Tesla ATV
The “one more thing” moment at the Cybertruck event was the introduction of a Tesla ATV, which was driven onto the stage and into the bed of the truck, where it was plugged in and charged from the truck.
On the ground at the event, there were several cars from classic sci-fi movies, include the Spinner police car from Blade Runner (1982) and the DeLorean from the Back to the Future films.
Musk has talked about the Tesla pickup for years.
“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 a November 2018 interview. “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.”
On Thursday, a few hours before the unveiling, Musk tweeted that the design was influenced partly by The Spy Who Loved Me, the 1977 James Bond film with a car that turns into a submarine. He also joked (maybe) that the pressurized edition of the truck would be the “official truck of Mars.”
Musk even went as far as to say that “I actually don’t know if a lot of people will buy this pickup truck or not, but I don’t care,” before adding that “I do care, eventually” as “we wanna get gasoline, diesel pickup trucks off the road.”
Based on the company’s 2016 master plan, the truck can be seen as the third step in a three-part plan to transform Tesla from a premium automaker to a mass market manufacturer. That started with the Tesla Model 3, a sedan that entered production in July 2017 and starts at $35,000. It continues with the Tesla Model Y, a compact SUV expected to hit roads next summer starting at $39,000. Although it’s expected to have limited appeal compared to these other two, the Cybertruck was listed as the final piece of the proverbial puzzle.
“Cybertruck doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen bouncing around the Internet,” Musk declared last month. “It’s closer to an armored personnel carrier from the future.”
Abbreviated Tesla pickup hype timeline