Tesla Unveils Cybertruck In LA: $39,900 of Absolute Madness

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
tesla unveils cybertruck in la 39 900 of absolute madness

Taking a moment away from my cheese sandwich, I looked at the countdown. Only four more minutes. Four minutes were all that separated me from Tesla Motors’ live unveiling of Cybertruck. Another bite while I checked my phone messages; just two minutes left now. Dear Lord, was I ready? Needing to calm myself, I poured a glass of cold water, drinking most of it before splashing a bit on my face. Thirty seconds. Things were serious now. Pretty soon, Elon Musk was going to appear and change the face of motoring once again. This will be the automotive announcement by which all others will be measured for weeks.

An ominous horn sounded as my screen illuminated to show me a blood-red stage. This was it. It was like they were announcing the first Terminator. Dark music subsided to a rowdy crowd, as a hologram told us we were addicted to oil. The solution? Cybertruck. Fashionable. Functional. Electric. Elon Musk walked out on stage like God Himself. Everyone started screaming. Humble, he chatted briefly with the front row.

“We need something different,” said after accusing all other truck models to be largely indistinguishable.

Then Cybertruck blasted on stage and I couldn’t believe what I saw.

It was the weirdest non-conceptual vehicle design I’d ever witnessed. The crowd audibly laughed for fifteen seconds and then attempted to rally. “We love it,” a few started to chant. I thought there was no way this could be real and that, in a few seconds, Elon would chuckle and they’d roll out the real thing. But this was Cybertruck. A silver block of cheese.

That reminded me to get back to my sandwich as I continued watching. More of a DeLorean pickup, maybe. It’s like someone invented a totally new geometric shape and then told me it was a car before I even had time to count all the sides.

I snapped out of it as some Hollywood Guy I didn’t recognize walked up and hit it with a hammer (UPDATE: I later realized this was Tesla designer Franz von Holzhausen, who has a very expensive looking haircut). But not before wailing on a regular truck door, deforming it like the piece of garbage it was. Cybertruck didn’t even flinch when it got hit… though Hollywood Guy (Holzhausen) didn’t seem to strike it quite so hard. However, the point was made. Cybertruck is not body-on-frame. It uses an “ultra-hard, cold-rolled stainless steel exoskeleton,” according to its creator.

Then they shot Cybertruck — providing video evidence for the test. The high-speed video clearly showed the 9mm round did not penetrate (perfect for LA traffic). “It is literally bulletproof to a 9mm handgun,” Musk explained before comparing normal truck doors to tissue paper. “When you say something’s built tough … that’s what we mean.”

Somewhere the ghost of Henry Ford weeps.

Cybertruck also doesn’t use normal glass. It uses “Tesla Armor Glass,” which is apparently made out of transparent metal like on the starship Enterprise. They brought two magicians on stage to test it and those unhappy looking wizards gave it their all with dropped ball bearings but it wouldn’t crack. I was genuinely impressed, however, this felt more like I was watching a stage show in Las Vegas than the unveiling of a vehicle in California.

Finally, Hollywood Guy came back to spice things up — whipping one of the ball bearings directly into Cybertruck’s side glass. The sound of it breaking was infinitely satisfying, even if it was staged. I doubt anyone could really tell at this point. Musk seemed legitimately embarrassed, but this would be something big to tweet about. It also made for a nice segue into the real specs; Musk took the opportunity to slow things down so he could breeze through them.

Cybertruck has an adaptive air suspension and is dimensionally in the middle of what Detroit currently offers. Overall length is said to be 232 inches, width is 80 inches, and it’s 75 inches tall. That air suspension is supposed to help to distribute payload (maximum 3,500 pounds) around the vehicle and help with the approach angle (35 degrees). Though it’s still not entirely clear where that weight goes because there is no bed — there’s an open clamshell back thing they put a futuristic ATV into. The estimated towing capacity somewhere around 14,000 pounds. We’ll see if that number sticks around.

Pricing is good. This weird little freak is supposed to start at $39,900 — which undercuts any other electric pickup we’ve heard of and most of Tesla’s own lineup. Range is supposed to be about 250 miles on the dual-motor base but a sweeter tri-motor truck will be available for a hair under $70,000. There’s also supposed to be an extended range variant with two electric spinners for about $50,000. Buying into a bigger battery is alleged to deliver more than 500 miles on a single — no word on their actual sizes.

From the announcement, I gather that some version of Cybertruck will be able to launch to 60 mph in about 2.9 seconds. The quarter-mile time is claimed to be in the high 10s. It probably won’t be the base but that’s still pretty damn good for anything with wheels.

Honestly, this still feels like a put on. The Cybertruck teasers were akin to how Gabbo was promoted on The Simpsons. Nobody knew what to expect and you never stopped hearing about it. The mystery was the story and I’m almost as bewildered and lost now as I was when I went into this experience. Is this brilliant and I’m not seeing it? Where are the windshield wipers and mirrors? I thought this was supposed to be a production vehicle and all I see is a well-polished concept.

Am I still recovering from the event’s incredible production quality? What has happened here exactly?

I think Cybertruck looks like a prop from a sci-fi film (not in the way Musk wants) and probably won’t function well as a legitimate work vehicle as it’s currently designed. You’ll be able to haul things in it, sure. But those cool lips that help to give it that futuristic profile basically mean you have to go to the very back every time you want to chuck something in or pull something out. And, if that’s going to be the case, why wouldn’t you just get nice boring crossover? I am probably overthinking this. Tesla put on a good show and is probably going to sell bunches of these things.

[Images: Tesla Motors]

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2 of 244 comments
  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Nov 25, 2019

    Oh look a 3 year old just designed a truck for an upcoming sci-fi B movie- from the 1980's. 39K my ass!!!

  • -Nate -Nate on Nov 25, 2019

    RE the onboard air compressor : ? Can it be used to blow leaves & crap out of the bed as well as inflate tires and so on ? . I've never had the use of a modern vehicle with built in air compressor, sounds useful though . Back in the 1960 & 1970's we'd use old York typ AC compressors to provide air for inflating tires and quick clean out of leaves and crud in the pickup beds & foot wells of cars . -Nate

  • Cprescott Yawn.
  • 28-Cars-Later Wrangler people are crazy.
  • 28-Cars-Later "Transition" to layoffs, this guy is the Bob(s) from Office Space.
  • Vap65689119 As a release engineer I also worked in quality, if they are serious they should look at Toyotas business model which has their suppliers as genuine partners, thats how you get a quality product
  • Mike-NB2 I seem to have landed in an alternate universe. $12,000 for a Jeep that's going on a quarter-century old and with an automatic transmission? Wow.