Innovation

Tesla Cybertruck: Elon Musk teases tweaked design and powerful features

The upcoming pickup truck looks set to include new technical features.

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

The Tesla Cybertruck is set to feature a modified design and added features to make it ideal for towing, Elon Musk revealed last week. The Tesla CEO detailed some changes to the all-electric pickup truck, unveiled in November 2019 and set to hit roads late 2021, via his Twitter account to his 31.5 million followers.

Perhaps the biggest change outlined by Musk is the altered design, described as "slightly better." The car's Blade Runner-like angular design stunned viewers at its unveiling – even inspiring a Hot Wheels toy – and Musk later explained that its unique shape came from the fact that it uses cold-rolled 30X steel that can't be stamped. While the prototype model featured an 84-inch body width, Musk suggested this would come closer to 82 inches and "come standard with upper laser blade lights."

Musk also noted that the vehicle will feature calculators for payload and towing. He also explained that the car would feature "real-time changes to max acceleration, braking, cornering, speed on gradient & range, latter factoring in route elevation changes & cargo or tow mass & drag impact."

It could prove a big benefit for the truck, which starts at $39,900. At the high end, the Cybertruck's towing capacity reaches over 14,000 pounds and includes 100 cubic feet of storage space. The EPA range estimate for the high-end version reaches over 500 miles between charges.

Musk's comments were made in response to a Teslarati story shared Friday, which covered an Edmunds conversation about the upcoming truck. The two hosts noted how towing capacity and long range is impressive, but electric vehicles suffer from a drop in range at these high capacities that can make filling it to the brim difficult.

"When you see a truck that has a 500-mile range, that's really compelling until you start needing to fill it," said host Carlos Lago. "And then you realize how much time you have to spend at a charging station."

Musk's most recent comments suggest he is aware of this issue. The Model X SUV made headlines with its ability to transport large amounts of weight, acting as a work vehicle for The Boring Company by towing 250,000 pounds and pulling a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner in Australia. These feats perhaps mask the hit to performance in other areas, however, which could lead to a drop in range.

The two hosts also discussed competitors to the Cybertruck, like the Rivian R1T and the Hummer EV. Musk wrote in response to the story that "active ride height & active damping are game-changing for a truck or any car with a high max/min weight ratio."

The truck's rear storage area features lockable storage, aided by suspension that moves four inches in either direction, with a tonneau cover the company claims is strong enough to stand on. The company's track record with demonstrating these claims is slightly questionable, however, as the side window famously broke upon contact with a heavy ball during the initial demonstration.

While it seems an exciting start to the Cybertruck's capabilities, Musk has suggested the company won't stop there. Musk claimed after the presentation that the truck will offer an optional set of solar panels that can generate 15 miles of extra range per day. Optional foldable wings can boost this to up to 40 miles.

Evidence suggests the Cybertruck is offering widespread appeal. A tracker produced by the Cybertruck Owners Club suggested the company has raked in over 535,000 pre-orders so far, outpacing the Model 3 sedan that had 518,000 total reservations the month after the start of manufacturing.

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