The triangle car no-one asked for, or the next big thing? Bring on the jokes.
At a small-ish event in Los Angeles, Tesla revealed their first utility-minded fully electric vehicle called Cybertruck. Just by looking at it, the sci-fi alarms start to wail as it challenges the very norms of modern (production) vehicle design. Love it or hate it, the Tesla team certainly isn’t backing down from taking a boldly different approach.
There were longstanding rumours aplenty that Tesla were developing a pick-up of some kind to add to their EV portfolio, ones that persisted past the release of the Model 3, Model Y, and the prototype of their second-generation Roadster. This came as little surprise as in North America, vehicles like the Ford F-150, RAM 1500, and Chevrolet Silverado continue to top sales charts.
It’s also the first Tesla vehicle since the Roadster to not follow the prefix ‘Model’ nomenclature, though exactly why they landed on Cybertruck is probably not worth dissecting. Its strange design consists of a body constructed of stainless steel that Tesla defines as a “near impenetrable” exoskeleton.
Supplementing the hardened body shell are the armoured windows, though the on-stage demo went a bit awry after both windows facing the audience sustained considerable damage after having a metal ball tossed at it.
The triangular body starts as a wedge that rises from the headlights to just before the B-pillar before it slopes all the way to the rear edge. The Cybertruck measures 5.87 metres in length to be as close to its traditional competitors as possible, whom it mimics by having a large cargo area aft of its pseudo dual cab layout.
That cargo bed is called the Vault by the automaker due to the retractable (and lockable) metal cover that envelops the 2381-litre deck which Tesla claims is “strong enough to stand on”. Maximum payload is rated at 1,587kg with loading made easier thanks to the standard adaptive air suspension dynamically lowering or increasing ride height by 10cm either way.
In addition to configurations allowing for single or dual-motor layouts, the Cybertruck is also the first to feature Tesla’s new ‘Plaid’ powertrain that is able to use its three electric motors in combination to extract an astonishing 2.9 second sprint to 100km/h. Exact power and torque numbers are yet to be disclosed.
Its extra large lithium ion batteries are also claimed to offer up to 800km or more in range before needing a recharge, which is remarkable for a vehicle so large. In its tri-motor configuration, Tesla claims a towing capacity of 6,350kg.
Inside, the Cybertruck’s minimalism is once again a key theme. There are two rows of seats with space for 3 abreast over each thanks to an optional centre jump seat up front. The cabin would be almost entirely featureless if not for the futuristic race-style steering wheel and expansive central 17-inch touchscreen perched on what looks like dashboard made to mimic a marble or granite flat surface.
Production is still some ways off, unfortunately, though Tesla is already accepting $100 pre-orders for initial deliveries that are slated to begin in late 2021 for single and dual-motor variants while the range-topping tri-motor versions are expected to roll out in late 2022.