Tesla rolls out Cybertruck: 550km range, 845bhp and bulletproof bodywork

Tesla delivers first examples of its electric pick-up truck to customers after long and problematic gestation. 

By Will Rimell , Autocar UK calendar 02 Dec 2023 Views icon8432 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

The Tesla Cybertruck has finally arrived, four years after it was first revealed, weighing more than three tonnes, available with up to 845bhp and clad in radical prismatic bodywork that's claimed to be bulletproof.

At a special customer delivery event, the first few production examples were handed over to customers, with Tesla boss Elon Musk proclaiming: “I think it’s our best product – the most unique thing on the road. The future should look like the future.”

Originally, the American car maker had promised first deliveries would be made in 2021. Production finally started this July. Customers still can’t order the vehicle, with Tesla only taking reservation deposits – at $100 (£77). Musk previously claimed 200,000 people had placed a deposit.

The divisively styled pick-up will be offered with either an 845bhp Tesla Model S Plaid-derived tri-motor set-up – with maximum power deployed in Beast Mode – or a 600bhp twin-motor ‘base-level’ powertrain. The previously billed single-motor model is not expected to be offered until 2025. Prices start from $79,990 (£63,356) and climb to $99,990 (£79,197) for the two launch editions.

In top-spec form, the 5.87m-long truck is claimed to hit 60mph / 100kph from standing in 2.6sec and complete a standing quarter-mile in less than 11sec.

Tesla characteristically has not given a precise battery size but claims a top-end range of 340 miles / 557 kilometres (20 miles less for the tri-motor) and has confirmed that the Cybertruck, which weighs 3107kg, has a drag coefficient of 0.34 – around the same as a Range Rover. All variants are claimed to be capable of the same 1MW (1000kW) charging speed as the Tesla Semi HGV.

Cybertruck, which weighs 3107kg, has a drag coefficient of 0.34 – around the same as a Range Rover.

The vehicle has a payload capacity of 1134kg in the covered rear load bay (dubbed the ‘vault’), as well as space in the 'frunk' and sail pillars, and comes with a maximum towing capacity of 5000kg.

Musk said the Cybertruck is “something that is a better truck than a truck and something that is a better sports car than a sports car, all in the same package”.

The Cybertruck's body is made of a Tesla-designed stainless steel alloy that, as well as allegedly being bulletproof against 9mm bullets, is claimed to give the pick-up more torsional stiffness than a McLaren P1.

“We needed something that you could actually manufacture, that wouldn't corrode, and that doesn’t need paint, that you could make in volume,” said Musk on the decision to produce a totally bespoke alloy material. “You can’t stamp the body panels. They would break the stamping machine."

He added: “Because the centre of gravity is so low, it doesn’t roll over. If you’re ever in an argument with another car, you will win.”

Musk also touted the Cybertruck's off-road credentials: "You can drive over practically anything. It has insane off-road capabilities”.

The Cybertruck has 17 inches of ground clearance, 35-inch all-terrain tyres, adaptive air suspension on all four corners with 4 inches of adjustment, and locking differentials that, crucially, do not protrude below the body of the vehicle, minimising the risk of beaching. 

The Ford F-150 Lightning rival also uses steer-by-wire tech – of the type that's coming soon to the Lexus RZ – which reduces the amount of wheel input needed for turns. Along with four-wheel steering, it gives the Cybertruck a turning circle that's smaller than the Model S's.

Musk said: “Once in a while, a product comes along that is rare. Something that is rare and unusual. We have a car here that experts said was impossible, said would never be made.”

The start of deliveries also marks the start of mass production, but it is unclear when the brand plans to reach full-scale output, or how many it has sold so far. Details of a UK launch remain to be given. 

Musk on Cybertruck: Tesla has “dug its own grave”

Tesla has “dug its own grave” with the Cybertruck, CEO Elon Musk said in October, as the EV maker struggled to ramp up production of the angular pick-up.

The firm is a long way behind schedule with the Cybertruck, having promised 2021 deliveries at its 2019 unveiling. It started production in July, but customers still can’t order the vehicle, with Tesla only taking reservation deposits.

“There will be enormous challenges in reaching volume production with the Cybertruck and then in making a Cybertruck cashflow positive,” Musk told analysts and investors in October.

Tesla is using innovative production techniques to build the uniquely styled truck, which is made from an ultra-hard stainless steel that the company said it had to invent. It's also using 9000-tonne gigapresses to mould large sections of the underbody at in its factory in Texas, as well as installing what it calls the largest hot-stamping facility in the world.

Musk said Tesla would reach its target volume production of 250,000 units per year starting in 2025, once it has solved the issues it's facing.

The Cybertruck is an outlier for a company that has focused its attention on producing high volumes of popular global models as efficiently as possible, including the Tesla Model 3 saloon and Tesla Model Y SUV.

“We dug our own grave with Cybertruck”, Musk said on the call. “Cybertruck is one of those special products that comes along only once in a long while. And special products that come along once in a long while are just incredibly difficult to bring to market, to reach volume, to be prosperous.”

Musk spoke about the problems of bringing the truck to market in way that would be both profitable for Tesla and “at a price people can afford”.

He also decried high interest rates that were pushing up prices and making cars less affordable.

Tesla claims it has a million reservations for Cybertruck.

ALSO READ: Tesla eyes India debut in 2024, aims for local manufacturing by 2026

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