Tesla Finally Rolls Out Its Long-Awaited Cybertruck: ‘More Utility Than a Truck, Faster Than a Sports Car’
The stainless steel body can withstand gunfire from .45 caliber and 9mm firearms.
The Cybertruck has finally been downloaded into real life.
Tesla’s electric pickup was officially launched on Thursday, four years after the bizarre creation debuted as a concept.
A handful of early customers took delivery of their trucks at a private event held in Tesla’s Texas Gigafactory, where they are built.
The production model looks much the same as the concept, with its low-resolution computer-generated design aesthetic. Yet, it has actually changed quite a bit. It’s about 10 percent smaller now, with a footprint that can fit inside of a Ford F-150 Lightning’s. I had the opportunity to see one in person, and it’s much less imposing than it is in photos. Its roof and nose are both lower than a typical pickup’s, and its triangular roofline is oddly slimming.
The slab-sided styling is necessitated by the use of a particularly strong stainless steel alloy, which Elon Musk says is too stiff to be bent. Tesla demonstrated that it is also bulletproof, with videos showing it being shot by .45 caliber and 9mm firearms without the bullets piercing its silver skin.
The window glass isn’t quite as protective but is shatter-resistant and can take a hit from a 70 mph baseball pitch without breaking, unlike the concept’s “armor glass” that was embarrassingly smashed by a small metal ball at the original release.
Pricing has come a long way since then, and not for the better. The Cybertruck was initially advertised from $39,900 to $69,900, but reservations are now being accepted for a $79,990 all-wheel-drive model and a $99,990 Cyberbeast performance version, while a $60,990 rear-wheel-drive model will be added to the lineup in 2025. That puts it in the same ballpark with the F-150 Lightning, Rivian R1T, and GMC Hummer EV pickup.
The Cyberbeast is meant to be the alpha of them all and it does boast the heaviest hauling capabilities, with an 11,000-pound tow rating and a 2,500-pound payload capacity. It can also accelerate to 60 mph in a supercar-quick 2.6 seconds and beat a Porsche 911 in a drag race … while towing a Porsche 911.
“More utility than a truck, faster than a sports car,” is how Tesla puts it.
A four-wheel steering system uses the front and rear wheels to allow the full-size pickup to make tighter turns than a Model S sedan, but the way it does so is unusual. It uses a steer-by-wire system that doesn’t have a mechanical connection between its rectangular steering wheel and the wheels. It’s essentially the same as a video game controller. Yes, this is legal. Infiniti offered a similar setup in the Q50 sedan a decade ago, although it had a small backup steering column in case of emergencies. You won’t find one of those in the Cybertruck because that’s how Tesla rolls.
As for how far the Cybertruck can roll, the Cyberbeast has a range of 320 miles and the all-wheel-drive version 340 miles, both solid for the growing electric pickup class. Its killer app may turn out to be a backup battery pack that can be installed in the bed to add an extra 120-130 miles for long trips on the highways.
Don’t expect them to be filling up with Cybertrucks too quickly. Mr. Musk has been clear that Tesla won’t be building many soon. It is so different that it’s still learning how to manufacture it at scale, but Tesla is sitting on more than one million reservations, and Mr. Musk thinks it can eventually move 250,000 annually.
“This is going to be a niche vehicle until Tesla ramps up production capacity,” Guidehouse Insights’ electric vehicle senior research analyst Michael Austin told me.
“The early buyers will probably be existing Tesla fans. The unique styling and utility might lure some new customers to the brand, but it’s likely that traditional truck buyers will wait to see how it holds up to real-world use.”
Many are still amazed that it’s even real.