Tesla’s upcoming entry into the pickup segment turned heads, dropped jaws, made headlines, and cleaved the public’s opinion right in half. Motorists who complained that the first Honda Ridgeline was a little too unconventional for a truck were in for a rude surprise when the Cybertruck made its debut in 2019. It looks like nothing else on the road, though we’ll let you decide whether that’s good or bad. As it inches toward production, we’re taking a look at what it is, what it does, how much it will cost, and when cyber motorists will have the opportunity to get behind the wheel.
What is it?
Much has been said about the Cybertruck’s design, and there’s little we can add to the conversation without seeing the production-bound model. The only version shown so far is pegged somewhere between a concept and a prototype. We know its body will be made with 30X cold-rolled stainless steel, which fends off dents and rust, and its glass panels will allegedly be bulletproof. It will also offer a 6.5-foot cargo box that Tesla refers to as a vault.
You can call it a vault, a box, or a bed. Either way, it will be topped by a tonneau cover strong enough to stand on, and Tesla is planning to release a range of accessories for workers, adventurers, and anyone in between. Owners will be able to add a camper top and a pop-out kitchen to the Cybertruck, for example. On-board power outlets that draw electricity from the battery pack will allow passengers to power tools and devices off the grid. Tesla also outlined an on-board air compressor. Its truck is shaping up to be one of the more versatile models on the market.
What’s it like inside?
Since this is a prototype, what you see above isn’t necessarily what you’ll get when production starts. From what we’ve heard so far, the Cybertruck will offer a spacious cabin with six seats and a big storage bin under the rear bench. Its dashboard is an exercise in minimalist design that looks like an evolution of the layout seen in the Model 3 and the Model Y. There’s a rectangular steering wheel, a 17-inch screen that runs the new version of Tesla’s infotainment system, and not much else. It’s reasonable to assume features found on the company’s current crop of cars, like in-car gaming and video streaming, will be available, though odds are you’ll need to pay monthly for them.
Its specs are awesome, right?
Of course — though the level of awesomeness depends on the version you look at. The entry-level variant is equipped with a single motor that spins the rear wheels. It tows 7,500 pounds, takes 6.5 seconds to reach 60mph from a stop, and delivers approximately 250 miles of range. Tesla does not publish specifications about its batteries.
Move up in the hierarchy, and you’ll find the midrange version with two electric motors (one per axle) for all-wheel drive, a 10,000-pound towing capacity, a 4.5-second sprint to 60mph, and about 300 miles of range. Last but not least, the triple-motor flagship model tows 14,000 pounds, rockets to 60mph in 2.9 seconds, and boasts about 500 miles of range. Remember, the Cybertruck is not in production, so these numbers are merely goals at this point. They’re not set in stone, and they haven’t been proven or tested for miles on end in real-world conditions.
Ground clearance checks in at up to 16 inches, thanks in part to an adaptive air suspension that’s standard regardless of how the truck is configured. Tesla is dialing in approach and departure angles of 35 and 28 degrees, respectively. Autopilot will come standard, though it will not make the truck autonomous; it’s a driver-assistance system.
So, it’s like an F-150?
Kinda, sorta, but not really. On the surface, both are pickup trucks, and Ford is indeed planning to release an electric version of the next-generation F-150, but Tesla documents confirm the Cybertruck will be aimed at heavier models.
“While we have not yet begun production of the Cybertruck, we expect it to have a towing capacity of 7,500 to 14,000-plus pounds, and it should very likely qualify as a Class 2B-3 medium-duty vehicle,” explained Sarah Van Cleve, the company’s senior managing policy advisor, in a letter written to California’s Air Resources Board (ARB).
That’s legal jargon for a truck with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 8,501 to 10,000 pounds, which is a level above the F-150. If the specs don’t change, the Cybertruck will land in the same segment as medium-duty rigs like the Ford F-250, the Ram 2500, and the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Yukon 2500 twins.
Where will it be built?
In early 2020, Tesla announced it needed to build a second factory to manufacture the Cybertruck. It’s out of space in its Fremont, California, facility, and it recently hinted it wants to leave the Golden State after a public spat with authorities over whether and when to reopen the plant.
In July, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the Cybertruck will be built in a Gigafactory in Austin, Texas. The factory will be open to the public and have a boardwalk and hiking and biking trail. Musk said the new Gigafactory would be “an ecological paradise.”
How much does it cost?
At launch, Tesla will make three variants of the Cybertruck available. The entry-level, rear-wheel drive model carries a base price of $39,000. The midrange model starts at $49,000, while the triple-motor range-topper costs $69,000. Keep in mind that Tesla buyers stopped being eligible to claim a federal tax credit on January 1, 2020, but they may qualify for other incentives awarded at the state, county, or city level. The only extra-cost option confirmed as of writing is full self-driving, which may or may not make the Cybertruck autonomous and costs $7,000. Looking at Tesla’s current range suggests additional interior colors and wheel designs will also be optional.
When can I drive one?
Anyone with $100 to spare can reserve a Cybetruck by logging on to Tesla’s official website. Making a reservation is not a binding agreement to buy a Cybertruck when production starts; it’s more or less a refundable, commitment-free way to register your interest. Tesla will ask reservation holders to confirm their interest closer to the start of production, which is currently penciled in for late 2021, though delays are possible.
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