If you thought no car launch could be more controversial than Ford’s Mustang Mach E, guess again. Tesla’s enigmatic founder, Elon Musk, dropped a bombshell on the press with the launch of the Cybertruck, a retro-futuristic electric pickup truck boasting a 2.9secs 0-60mph (0-97kph) time and an 800km range. With a starting price of $39,900 (around P2 million), it undercuts Ford’s all-electric crossover by a few thousand dollars.
Unlike the Mustang-a-like Mach-E, the Cybertruck looks like nothing else on the road. Instead, it is a loving homage to 1982. Taking liberal inspiration from 1982’s Blade Runner, Tron, and the Delorean DMC-12, it’s a shiny, stainless-steel, monoplane-like wedge that looks nothing like a standard pickup truck.
But rolling back the rear cover reveals a bed that, while a foot and a half short of the standard plywood sheet benchmark, can hold 1,600kg of cargo with up to 2,800 liters of covered lockable storage space. Interior space is Tardis-like, with the lack of a driveline tunnel and gearshift allowing seating for six. Tesla even showed plans for a tent attachment that sits in the bed, and further demonstrated the bed’s durability by driving a Tron-inspired electric ATV into it at the end of the launch.
The rest of the body is equally tough. A cold-rolled stainless-steel exoskeleton carries all structural and crash loads through the outer skin. Tesla Chief Designer Franz Von Holzhausen demonstrated the strength of the exoskeleton by hitting the door panels with a sledgehammer, failing to dent them. A demonstration of the bulletproof ‘Tesla Armor’ windows didn’t go as well, however, as he cracked two of them during the demonstration. Musk smoothly responded to this surprise with the joke “We’ll fix that in post.”
Either way, no other carmaker has a bullet- or sledgehammer-resistant vehicle at the Cybertruck’s price point, and compatibility with Tesla’s supercharger network and autonomous driving software are big bonuses. The Cybertruck starts at $39,900 for the base rear-wheel-drive, single-motor model with a 400km range, a 6.5 second 0-60mph time, and a 3,400kg towing capacity. The mid-range dual-motor 4WD model, priced at $49,900 (around P2.5 million), boasts a 4.5secs 0-60 time, a 480+ km range, and a 4,500kg towing rating. And finally, the top-of-the-line Tri Motor, at $69,900 (roughly P3.5 million), promises a supercar-worthy 2.9secs 0-60 time, 800km of range, and a herculean 6,350kg tow rating.
All models come standard with Tesla Autopilot, an adaptive air suspension system that allows up to 406mm of ground clearance, and the smug feeling of driving the coolest truck of the decade.
Well, maybe not this decade, as deliveries of the Cybertruck are set to begin in 2021, with the Tri Motor model to follow in 2022 just in time for Blade Runner’s 40th anniversary. So unless you have a spare time-traveling DeLorean tucked away in your garage, you’re going to have to wait a bit longer to fulfill your romantic replicant road trip fantasies.