Tesla’s Pickup Truck Is Here, and It’s More Insane Than We Ever Imagined

The Cybertruck is crazy-looking, crazy-capable—and coming to the streets next year.

When he first brought it up, Elon Musk promised the new Tesla Cybertruck would be a radical departure from the pickup truck norm, something we’ve never seen before. Well, Elon, mission accomplished: the Cybertruck is more insane than anyone predicted.

Let’s start with the aesthetics. It’s, well, triangular. The Cybertruck is made from an exposed stainless steel exoskeleton that doesn’t need painting. Indeed, it does look like something out of Blade Runner, as Musk said he desired. (Though that leaves us wondering whether it resembles “the future,” or a now-dated vision of the future from a 37-year-old sci-fi movie.) The looks were so shocking, claims like the Tri-Motor AWD version accelerating from 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds, towing around 14,000 pounds, achieving a range of 500 miles and offering “full self-driving” capabilities felt almost mundane.

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Indeed, the Cybertruck’s looks may be too radical to win over a wide swath of drivers. Full-size truck buyers are, as Musk noted, a vital portion of the automotive market; they are also quite conservative with their automotive preferences. When Ford moved away from V8s, it was controversial, even though the new turbocharged V6 engines made just as much power as eight-pots. And when the time came to redesign the latest Silverado, Chevrolet’s owner clinics led GM to barely alter the interior; it was, the carmaker said, what the buyers wanted.

It’s not hard to imagine the Cybertruck is more of a concept to troll the industry with than something meant to appeal to pickup buyers in any real way. Even if the audience is just Tesla enthusiasts, the Cybertruck may be too much Kool-Aid to ingest. Other Tesla models have succeeded in part because they were sporty, attractive-looking cars that pivoted the image of EVs away from goofy hatchbacks like the Nissan Leaf. Do those same people really want to roll up to Starbucks in a rig that looks like Griff Tannen would have driven it in Back to the Future II?

Looks aside, Tesla’s oddball half-hour reveal of the Cybertruck did reveal a few interesting features. Musk showed off the purported strength of the Cybertruck’s exoskeleton by hitting it with a sledgehammer. (Of course, the sledgehammer had the telltale orange head of a dead blow hammer, which is designed to minimize impact to the struck surface.) He then showed off the strength of the purportedly bulletproof “Tesla Armor Glass” by having someone hurling a steel ball at the windows…and smashing them easily. (Musk promised to fix it for production.)

Even crazier may be the price point. Musk initially suggested the Cybertruck would start below $50,000. That seemed bold and optimistic. The base Cybertruck is now reported to start at $39,900, purportedly without incentives (Tesla won’t qualify for the federal tax credit any more by the time the truck goes on sale). The Tri-Motor AWD version will start at $69,900 — roughly the base price Rivian hopes to achieve for the R1T.

Perhaps the biggest question of all, however, is whether the Cybertruck will truly go on sale late next year as Tesla claims. The company has suffered from chronic delays in rolling out new models before, but it’s been improving its workflows as time goes on. Still, considering the many revolutionary claims made by this new truck, don’t be surprised if you can’t actually buy one off the lot on Black Friday 2020.

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