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Tesla's Cybertruck catches everyone off guard with extraordinary design

Tags: #electric-pickups

While the Los Angeles Auto Show might have been grabbing much of the automotive media's attention, Tesla had its own ideas to steal them away from the glitz and glamour. Elon Musk's company has finally taken the covers off of its Cybertruck. And it's striking.

To say we're a tad baffled is an understatement. It's never easy to second-guess Musk and Tesla in general, but the Cybertruck has caught us off guard – largely because of the way it looks. During Tesla's launch event (which didn't go entirely smoothly) not only was the bemusement palpable via the livestream, Twitter exploded with confusion.

'DeLorean' was trending – alluding to the car's 'exoskeleton' stainless steel shell. And it's a fair comparison; we found ourselves misquoting Back to the Future with Musk playing the mad Doc Brown and the world's media a befuddled Marty McFly saying: “Are you telling me that you built an electric truck... out of a DeLorean?!”

Some reports suggest that as the truck was revealed, members of the audience exclaimed words to the effect of “what the funk?”. And we can see why.

But – and this is another bit we're struggling with – Tesla appears to be deadly serious with the Cybertruck. You can even put down money on one despite production not beginning until 2021...

The looks

Let's address the brutalist edifice esque looks first. Yes, it really does look like a 1960s tower block knocked onto its side and put on wheels. It appears to have been designed with nothing but a set square and a ruler. But that aside, Tesla has dubbed the body an 'exoskeleton' made for durability and passenger protection. Why stainless steel? Well in Tesla's own words, if there was a better material to use in this application, they would have used it.

You can understand where they're coming from. As a utilitarian vehicle, the Cybertruck needs to be dent and corrosion resistant, strong, and potentially easy to knock back into shape. Steel is as good as it gets for these requirements. Owners might want to invest in some of those protectors you usually put on the corners of tables so toddlers and adults alike don't hurt themselves, though.

Just as angular are the windows which are made of Tesla Armour Glass – ultra strong and polymer layered to deflect force and act as an integral part of the exoskeleton. However, if the launch event is anything to go by, Tesla Armour Glass isn't all it's cracked up to be (pun intended); while demonstrating its toughness Musk made short work of actually breaking it. "We threw wrenches, we threw literally the kitchen sink at the glass and it didn’t break. For some reason it broke now… I don’t know why," he said afterwards, quipping “room for improvement.”

We'll say.

Aside from the way the Cybertruck looks, it is pretty damn big. Tesla quotes storage space of 100 square feet and in some of the rendered shots there's a pop-up canvas extension for turning the car into a camper – complete with tailgate BBQ appendage. In flat bed form it looks big enough to double as a helipad at 1.9 metres long, with 1.6 tonnes payload capacity. And knowing Tesla, don't bet against them trying it out... 

Powertrain

The Tesla Cybertruck is to come with three powertrain options: single motor, rear-wheel drive; dual motor, all-wheel drive and tri-motor all-wheel drive. In all cases performance and range is very compelling, but more to the point for a truck, the potential load bearing capacity and off-road capability is massive.

There are no official figures on the battery size but in ultimate tri-motor spec Tesla quotes 500+ miles – so it'll be a big ’un then. At the bottom of the pile the single motor, rear-wheel drive version will do 0-60 in 6.5 seconds, go for around 250 miles and tow 3.4 tonnes. Up the ante to the dual motor, all-wheel drive version and that 0-60 time drops to around four seconds with the range up to 300+ miles. In this guise it'll tow 4.5 tonnes. The tri-motor, all-wheel drive version will out-drag a Porsche 911 to 60, nailing it in 2.9 seconds, and can tow more than 6.3 tonnes – or the equivalent of an adult African Bush Elephant and enough food to keep it going for a few days.

We'd love to see the torque figures – and we're sure they'll be forthcoming in the not-too-distant future. Our best guess is somewhere in the region of 'lots'.

In all cases, and thanks in part to the incredibly short overhangs and 16 inches of ground clearance, the Cybertruck can approach a 35 degree slope and climb it without scratching its exoskeleton. It'll exit a slope of 28 degrees with no trouble as well.

Tech and connectivity

Whilst maintaining that utilitarian feel inside, the six-seat cabin doesn't do without creature comforts. Alongside things like 110v and 220v socket outlets for camping accessories and an on-board air compressor for... compressing air, the Cybertruck has the latest Tesla software. This is interfaced through a frankly massive 17 inch touchscreen, putting the Cybertruck firmly in the lead of the touchscreen arms race.

We're taking an educated guess that the features you typically find on a Model 3, Model Y and the like will make their way into the Cybertruck. Of course we expect there to be some off-road and towing/load lugging-specific features, but fundamentally Tesla already has the soft and hardware in service already.

Price?

As we mentioned, you can already put money down on a Tesla Cybertruck. The princely sum of £100 buys you a spot in a queue which, despite literally everything, will be a long one come launch. Tesla is reckoning on a final price being in the region of £21,000 for the basic version – which seems extremely ambitious, but don't bet against it.

A niggling thought in the back of our minds still thinks that all of this is some kind of advanced trolling by Elon Musk, but whether it is or not, we can't help but admire the sheer audacity of the Telsa Cybertruck.

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