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Elon Musk unveils Tesla’s Cybertruck with strange looks and great performance

Elon Musk opened the metaphorical curtains on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 21, to unveil Tesla’s new Cybertruck. This is the fourth model in the Tesla range, and the only one aimed squarely at the largest-selling sector of the U.S. automotive market. The truck raised eyebrows at launch, due to an unusual design, but it’s clearly resonated with someone: Within just a few days, hundreds of thousands pre-ordeded the vehicle.

The electric pickup truck is capable of some pretty astonishing feats: It can seat six people, is claimed to be bulletproof (both in the body and the glass), and comes with adjustable ride height. The bed, though Tesla insists on calling it the “vault,” is 6.5 feet long. There’s an on-board air compressor, and an outlet that allows users to run power tools or simply charge their laptop far off the grid by drawing electricity from the battery pack.

The Tesla Cybertruck has a frankly massive towing capacity of 14,000 pounds, outstripping some of its gasoline rivals, like the Ford F-150. The range for the truck is listed at 500 miles, although that is for the top-spec Tri-Motor AWD model, which also gets a 0-60mph of just 2.9 seconds. The mid-range model will get dual-motor all-wheel drive and 300 miles of range, while the entry-level variant will offer rear-wheel drive from one electric motor, and have a maximum driving range of 250 miles.

For off-roading fans, the truck has a 16-inch ground clearance, a 35-degree approach angle and a 28-degree departure angle. When adventure time is over, owners will be able to turn on the company’s Autopilot suite of semi-autonomous technology (like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist) to help guide them home. Full self-driving is an option, too, though whether it will be available when the truck enters production is up in the air.

An advantage of powering such a big truck with electricity rather than gasoline is that its cabin is massive. That’s because an electric motor takes up far less space than a four-, six-, or eight-cylinder engine. The rectangular steering wheel hints that the Cybertruck is still at the concept stage, and we don’t expect it will make its way to the production model. The 17-inch, landscape-oriented touchscreen planted in the middle of the dashboard is a keeper, though. It runs the next evolution of Tesla’s infotainment system, and it’s reasonable to assume the software will trickle down to other models in the coming years.

The Tesla Cybertruck will start at $39,900, which puts it in direct contention with gasoline-powered trucks.

Tesla plans to begin building its first pickup in late 2021, though it is worth remembering that the firm has not achieved a single one of its planned production dates yet. Deposits are being accepted now. You can secure an early spot in line by sending the company a $100 deposit, which is far less than what it asked for its previous cars; reserving the Model 3 cost $1,000, for example. You can get your money back if you decide not to follow through with your purchase.

During the reveal, the extra-strong glass indeed broke when put to the test (clearly not Musk’s intention), although the metal body stood up to repeated hammer blows. It also performed much better when pitted in a tug-of-war against a Ford F-150.

Musk also used the opportunity to unveil a Tesla ATV, which just happens to fit in the bed of the Cybertruck and can be charged while it is in “the vault.” The ATV — no name has been listed yet — is made up of sharp angles matching the Cybertruck’s dystopian looks. There’s no word yet on whether it’s headed to production, and, if so, when.

Tesla ATV
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This truck represents a major design departure for Tesla, and could signal a new look for all of its upcoming vehicles, or simply be a one-off to allow the Cybertruck to compete in the fiercely competitive truck market. The debut of the truck also means that Tesla’s product portfolio now includes more trucks and crossovers than sedans, mirroring the portfolios of the Big Three domestic carmakers.

Trucks have been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for decades with no signs of relenting, so it makes perfect business sense for Telsa to try to carve out a piece of that market. Tesla has also confirmed it will make the truck available in Europe, which is a bold move considering pickups Americans call small — like the Ford Ranger — are over-sized on the Old Continent, and often have a difficult time fitting in parking garages or navigating narrow streets.

Despite this announcement, the Cybertruck is not the next Tesla to roll off the assembly line. Indeed, the small SUV Model Y is still the next in line for production, with an estimated delivery schedule of mid-2020. Once the Model Y is being delivered to customers, we will see tooling begin for the Cybertruck. Until then, whoever’s truck you are borrowing to move your couch will just have to run on gasoline or diesel.

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