It was almost the first electric pickup truck to hit the market. Instead, Rivian beat it to the punch with the R1T.
Picture this: It’s November 21, 2019. The term “Corona” is still just a reference to a beer that’s better with lime. Brexit absolutely bulldozed British politics. And, well … Tesla announced the Cybertruck.
Like many things Tesla, the vehicle promised to turn the automotive industry on its head. However, the project quickly fell into limbo and hasn’t resurfaced until fairly recently, with the peculiar pickup now scheduled to go live in 2023. If the proverbial No. 2 hadn’t hit the fan, Tesla would have been the first automaker to bring an electric pickup truck to market. Instead, Rivian pipped it to the post with the R1T.
And that’s a shame, as the Cybertruck would have been priced super competitively, starting at just $39,990 for the base single-motor variant. Dual- and triple-motor variants were originally priced at $49,900 and $69,900, respectively—if true, this would have blown Rivian’s R1T out of the water. However, Tesla kept delaying the production timeline, initially citing the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 and ongoing chip shortages in 2022.
Cybertruck’s initial unveiling wasn’t a resounding success, with Elon Musk’s “unbreakable” glass demonstration comically dead on arrival. Throwing a metal ball bearing at moderate speed cracked the glass, proving it was, ahem, breakable.
However, that snafu is pretty insignificant when you consider the sheer number of projects that Tesla has falsely promised or at least over-promised, including projects like the semi-truck, the roadster, the $25,000 hatchback, and possibly even the Cybertruck itself. The last new Tesla vehicle that actually came to fruition was the Model Y. (However, that’s not to discredit other projects like the Powerwall or Solar Roof, which we actually quite like.)
Past failures aside, the electric truck industry is quickly flooding with high-quality vehicles from legitimately well-known manufacturers. Ford’s F-150 Lightning has already hit the market, along with the Rivian R1T—and we loved driving both. GMC’s Hummer EV is on the way this year, and the Chevy Silverado EV will closely follow in 2023.
Buying an electric truck is a substantial investment. Yet according to a recent Edmunds study, car shoppers are increasingly willing to try out greener vehicles like hybrids and EVs. However, brand loyalty is also playing a role. While the Cybertruck is apparently a feat of engineering, it will be hard to convince the owner of, let’s say, a Ford F-150 to hop on the bandwagon. That’s not to mention that Ford has decades of experience in building America’s best-selling pickup truck. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, they simply electrified an already damn good pickup truck.
Despite the Cybertruck’s production woes, there’s actually quite a lot to look forward to if and when it comes to life. Tesla describes its steampunk EV as having “better utility than a truck with more performance than a sports car.” It also promises a 2.9-second 0-60 time as well as 500 miles of range on a single charge—though the website doesn’t specify if this is for the single, double, or triple-motor configuration.
However, we’d wager the biggest draw of the Cybertruck is its angular aesthetic. So stark is the design that it could easily be mistaken as a rejected concept for Master Chief’s warthog from the Halo series. This futuristic look is made possible thanks to an exoskeleton built from ultra-hard 30x cold-rolled stainless steel.
Should it come to bear fruit, the Cybertruck is going to be one hell of a head-turner. Until it does, it’s nothing more than hot air from Elon Musk.