On November 12, Elon Musk announced that Tesla’s fourth “Gigafactory” for batteries would be in Berlin. Their third Gigafactory was being finished in Shanghai at the time but most people probably forgot about all of that by November 21 when Tesla made a much more meme-able announcement: the Cybertruck.
The Cybertruck looks unconventional. Basically the truck has almost no curves at all, instead it’s all flat surfaces and sharp angles. The wheels are still circular, obviously, but the hubcaps are heptagonal. The doors and windows are polygons too. At the front of the Cybertruck a long, thin unified headlight stretches from the left to the right. It has been compared to a wedge, a stealth-fighter, a DeLorean, a car from an old video game with graphics from the year 2000, and the Sabre Pyramid tablet from Season 8 of The Office. It almost doesn’t look real, like it’s a digital model sitting in the material world. In short, the name “Cybertruck” very much matches the aesthetic.
Another contributor to the Cybertruck meme was a gaffe during its announcement, when a Tesla employee tried to demonstrate that the Cybertruck’s windows were shatterproof. With a massive crowd of journalists and Tesla fanatics watching, the man threw rocks at two of the windows, both of which cracked. Elon Musk stood nearby and remarked “It didn’t go through, that is the plus side … room for improvement”, after the obligatory “Oh my fucking God”.
So, apart from the memes, what is this vehicle? It’s an electric pickup truck. It has two rows of seats, and a lot of space in the back to carry stuff. This space, normally called a bed, is being branded the “Cybertruck Vault” and has a lockable cover. There are single motor, double motor and triple motor variants. Assuming Tesla actually meets its deadlines, the former two will enter production in 2021, and the latter will enter production in 2022. The tri-motor variant will cost almost 70,000 USD, have 800 kilometers of range and will have a towing capacity of 6,350 kg.
The stainless steel body of the Cybertruck is actually the exposed “monocoque” frame of the vehicle: there is no separation of frame and body as seen in most trucks that exist today. This saves a lot of weight and volume. This is also Tesla’s first vehicle designed for off-roading, equipped with all-terrain tires, 14 inches of ground clearance, an entirely flat lower body and off-road bumpers. There is even talk of an option for fold-out solar panels.
In short, there are indeed reasons to want the Cybertruck other than the brand name, the memes and a desire to weird out your friends.
A Cybertruck pre-order requires a refundable deposit of 100 USD. Tesla has already received 146,000. A tweet from Elon Musk claims that 42% chose the dual-motor mode and 41% chose the tri-motor mode. The single-motor trails behind with 17% of the pre-orders because if you’re ordering such an outlandish vehicle 3 years early then you might as well go big.