The Tesla Cybertruck will likely hit roads in early 2022, making a bold challenge to a pickup truck industry dominated by just a few automakers that collectively sell several million units each year. That means taking on the big boys of Ford, General Motors, and RAM alongside upstart EV makers like Rivian.
The aggressively angular Cybertruck turned heads when unveiled in November 2019. At its LA-area reveal, CEO Elon Musk rightly declared it "doesn't look like anything else." Tesla promises specs to match, with a battery range that the company claims will run to over 500 miles at the high end and the ability to tow up to 14,000 pounds.
We don't know what the production version of the Cybertruck will look like, but on February 22, Musk posted on Twitter that the "final design is looking 👌," adding that he "was just in the studio."
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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 it's future ugly. And like every Tesla vehicle that has been released to date, it’s an absolute curiosity, inside and out.
Since the launch, Musk has ratcheted up the hype by cruising around the streets of California. During a February 2020 earnings call, four months after the reveal, Musk made a bold claim about initial pre-orders: "We've never seen this level of demand."
He also hinted in a May 2020 tweet that a smaller truck for non-US markets might be in the cards someday.
Tesla Cybertruck features
Its body, made from that stainless steel alloy, also boasts a 100 cubic feet of lockable storage in the bed and a 6.5” length. Tesla says it will sport up to 3,500 pounds of payload capacity and have a maximum towing capability of more than 14,000 pounds. The top-of-the-line tri-motor AWD variant will sport a 0-60 time of less than 2.9 seconds and handle the quarter-mile in 10.8 seconds. With up to 16 inches of ground clearance and adjustable air suspension, plus approach angle of 35 degrees and a departure of 28 degrees, Tesla is setting the Cybertruck up to be an off-road powerhouse, too. Naturally, it houses both 110-volt and 240-volt power outlets to plug in all your toys.
Musk said in a March 2021 tweet that Cybertruck owners will be able to plug a tiny house — or a towable camper — into the Cybertruck to power it.
Its angular design, Musk later revealed, comes from the fact it uses ultra-hard 30X steel. Where regular hot-rolled steel is rolled at a temperature of over 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit, this steel is further processed in cold reduction mills to make it even stronger. That means the company can't stamp the panels, Musk explained, as it would "break the stamping process...even bending it requires a deep score on inside of bend, which is how the prototype was made."
Musk said during Tesla’s fourth quarter 2020 earnings call back in January that Tesla would be purchasing a first-of-its-kind 8,000-ton casting press to manufacture the rear-body casting of the Cybertruck. The new press is expected to be installed at Tesla’s Gigafactory Texas in near Austin.
The least-curious thing about Teslas, it seems, is that they happen to be electric.
Musk revealed more details about the truck in the months after the launch:
- The car will pump the HVAC to the rear bed while the tonneau cover is closed.
- The rear will likely be accessible from the second row of seats.
- A "partial" Bioweapon Defense System, used to filter the air, is expected to be included.
- Tesla is aiming for a best-case drag coefficient of 0.30 – "insane for a truck."
- The truck will offer the option to add solar panels to the rear, boosting range by 15 miles per day. A fold-out version could raise that figure to 40.
Tesla Cybertruck price
The base price – $39,900 – 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.
The truck will come in three versions:
- A $39,900 single-motor rear-wheel drive with over 250 miles of range, over 7,500 pounds of towing capacity, and 0 to 60 mph in less than 6.5 seconds. Musk revealed that, as of November 23, 17 percent of buyers had opted for this model.
- A $49,900 dual-motor all-wheel-drive with over 300 miles of range, over 10,000 pounds of towing capacity, and 0 to 60 mph in less than 4.5 seconds. As of November 23, 42 percent of buyers had opted for this model.
- A $69,900 tri-motor all-wheel drive with over 500 miles of range, over 14,000 pounds of towing capacity, and 0 to 60 mph in less than 2.9 seconds. As of November 23, 43 percent of buyers had opted for this model.
Tesla’s “full self-driving” feature runs an extra $10,000.
Tesla Cybertruck release date
Production on the truck seems to be a bit of a moving target at the moment, as production was originally planned to begin in late 2021. In a March 2021 tweet, Musk promised a Cybertruck update in the second quarter of 2021. He also noted that Cybertruck will be built at Gigafactory Texas, which is currently under construction.
In that January earnings call, Musk said that “if we get lucky, we’ll be able to do a few deliveries toward the end of this year, but I expect volume production to be in 2022.” Given the difficulties in getting a new plant online, we suspect it’s safe to assume that the first Cybertruck deliveries won’t begin until 2022 at the earliest.
The Cybertruck will break new ground in Tesla's manufacturing processes. It's set to use an 8,000-ton casting machine for the rear body, bigger than the 6,000-ton machine used for the Model Y. The truck will be produced at the under-construction factory in Austin, Texas.
Pre-order the Tesla Cybertruck
Interested buyers can secure their spot with a $100 refundable deposit on Tesla’s website, but it’s worth noting that Tesla reportedly has more than 600,000 pre-orders. It’s likely that regardless of when it goes on sale, potential Cybertruck buyers who haven’t yet placed a pre-order will be waiting quite a while.
Tesla goes after Ford
During the November 2019 unveiling, Musk took several shots at Ford — maker of the F-150, the best-selling vehicle 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…”
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 a pickup truck, we don’t solve it. So I present to you the Cybertruck.”
For its part, Ford released the first-ever hybrid version of its best-selling F-150 pickup in 2021 and has teased a fully electric version of the F-150 for release in 2022.
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.
The ATV was later named in press materials as the "Cyberquad." It's a two-person electric vehicle that will ship as an optional extra with the Cybertruck. Little else is known at this stage, but eagle-eyed fans have spotted similarities with the Yamaha 700 Raptor ATV. Yamaha has denied any affiliation.
While it's a whole new space for Tesla, competitors seem unfazed by the idea the company may soon disrupt another industry. A representative from DDR, an Ohio-based electric ATV manufacturer, described the Cyberquad's design as "8-bit" to Inverse.
On the ground at the event, there were several cars from classic sci-fi movies, including the Spinner police car from Blade Runner (1982) and the DeLorean from the Back to the Future films.
Following the launch, Musk has played up to the futuristic design. He's suggested the truck could fly on the SpaceX Starship, the rocket designed to send humans to Mars. He's also declared that the "Cybertruck (pressurized edition) will be official truck of Mars," perhaps forming the first vehicle for the city expected to take shape in 2050.
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.”
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 in January 2020. “It’s closer to an armored personnel carrier from the future.”
Abbreviated Tesla pickup hype timeline
- Musk tweets with fans about what they want in the truck (June 2018)
- Musk says the will debut in the summer of 2019 (January 2019)
- Tesla shares mysterious image of the “Tesla cyberpunk truck” (March 2019)
- Musk gives his biggest hint yet about the design (October 2019)
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