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Tesla wants us all to talk about the Cybertruck

Prophetic vision of a new world? Hilarious styling misstep? Meta joke on the folly of industrial design?

By Nic Cackett / Friday, November 22, 2019

So where do we start? With Tesla's chutzpah? Or with the facts? Let's go with the latter because it's quicker. Yes, Tesla has made (or intends to make, at least) a pick-up truck. It is doing this for obvious reasons - the truck market in America is colossal, and curiously well protected from competition. And yes, it is called Cybertruck.

There will be three variants. The first will feature a single electric motor, meaning it's rear-driven and the cheapest to buy (at $39,900 or around £31k). For that you get around 250 miles of estimated range, a 7,500-pound towing capacity and a 0-60mph time of 6.5 seconds. At the mid-range ($49,900 or around £39k) you get dual motors, meaning all-wheel drive and a 4.5-second sprint, around 300 miles of range and towing capacity goes up to 10,000-pounds - which is essentially 4.5 tonnes.

Finally, and silliest, is the top-spec 'Tri' motor version, which will apparently deliver more than 500 miles of driving about, along with sufficient performance to crack 60mph in 2.9 seconds and haul 14,000-pounds (nearly 6.5 tonnes). This is the 'Plaid' level powertrain and it's not currently known how the configuration works. Somewhat inevitably, while it has a $69,900 asking price (almost £55k), it isn't projected to start production until late in 2022.

In fact, none of the Cybertrucks are due to start production just yet, with the rear-drive model pencilled in for late 2021. Nevertheless, that doesn't make what you're looking at a flight of fancy; not according to Musk, anyway, who insists that the pick-up is near production status as it appears. Which is remarkable, because you don't need us to tell you that the Cybertruck appears better prepared for a Bond villain's Moon base than it does the building sites of America.

There's even more to it than meets the eye, too. The body is apparently made of ultra-hard 30x cold-rolled stainless steel, which is said to make it bulletproof up to a 9mm round. The Cybertruck's resilience was tested on stage with a sledgehammer, and despite having its windows smashed - by a metal ball wielding designer, of all people - it is clearly built with a brutal working life in mind.

To that end, you get a 6.5ft load bay with a raisable cover, and over 2,800 litres of lockable storage space when all the nooks and crannies are taken into account. The Cybertruck will seat up to six occupants (yes, it's huge) and they will be treated to a 17-inch touchscreen in an otherwise fairly spartan interior. Underneath there will be adjustable air suspension, capable of going four inches in either direction (with 16 inches said to be the maximum height).

It all sounds very let's-get-the-job-done, which is admirable. But has Tesla gotten the job done? Yes, the truck market in America is vast; Ford sells nearly one million F-150s there every year. But therein lies the rub: it's a remarkably conservative market, one built on heritage, customer faith, reputation and the revered image of the American working man. Tesla is remarkably astute at worming its way into the affections of its domestic fanbase - but it's asking a lot of Average Joe to parade about the place like an extra from Judge Dredd.

Or perhaps we're wrong. If anyone can drop a wedge-shaped truck on North America, and get it to work, it's Tesla. But it will have lots of competition in the electric truck market in a couple of years, most notably from the giant carmakers which already dominate it. Even from afar, then, it looks like the future of the humble pick-up will be one of the most interesting automotive stores of the next decade. Who'd have thunk it?


 

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