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A silver Tesla Cybertruck is shown from the side in a dark room.

Is the Tesla Cybertruck of this World?

Though it might look like something that should be roaming around Mars, or evading pirates on the moon, the Tesla Cybertruck is more of-this-world than you might expect. With Tesla’s all-electric technology as the impetus for its design, the Cybertruck is one of the more practical vehicles to be introduced in recent memory. While Tesla CEO Elon Musk claims that the stainless-steel body can withstand sledgehammers and certain types of small-arms fire, of actual interest to truck buyers is the payload and towing capacity; numbers which are, in fact, out of this world.

Out of This World Design

But what’s the deal with the design? Surely Tesla could have gone more conservative in the design without sacrificing power. It’s one of the more polarizing designs ever to hit the mainstream market, so what exactly is the point of its hard-lined, stainless-steel exterior? It looks to be about as aerodynamic as a combine in an Iowa cornfield, but on closer inspection, Musk claims it actually could have a drag coefficient of around 0.30—better than most trucks. The 2019 Chevy Silverado 1500, for example, has a drag coefficient of about 0.38.

So the design may be practical too. The stainless steel is scratch and dent resistant, as well as resistant to corrosion, but it seems as though it would be expensive to replace. While it’s undoubtedly tough, its toughness seems to lie more in its Mad Max vibe than any real-world application. It’s a little over-the-top, you could say. So much so that you wonder if it is more of a gimmick than a serious truck. That’s a lot of stainless steel, and at a predicted starting price of $39,900, you have to wonder how they got to that price point. The body has been described as having a thick layer of stainless steel.

But look at the numbers Tesla is putting up for the Cybertruck. It comes with options for one, two, or three electric motors, and each of the trim levels has different ratings. The base-level comes with one motor, which gives you a tow rating of 7,500 pounds. Upgrade to two motors, and you can expect an increase to 10,000 pounds. If you opt for the 3-motor model, Tesla claims you will be able to tow 14,000 pounds. All models can handle a payload of 3,500 pounds in the 6.5-foot bed. These are best-in-class maximum numbers.

A four wheeler is in the bed of the Tesla Cybertruck.

A True Standout

This is starting to sound like one tough truck. Regardless of its polarizing exterior, the Cybertruck will engage the market based solely on its numbers. And the intrigue doesn’t stop there. The more you research the Cybertruck, the more interesting and useful engineering touches you find. One of the more thoughtful designs can be found in the truck’s bed. This isn’t a traditional truck bed.

The Cybertruck doesn’t just trot out a standard bed with lots of tie-downs or a rugged bed liner. Tesla designed the bed for specific functions, such as carrying four-wheelers and motorcycles. There is a built-in ramp that comes with the Cybertruck for loading ATVs, or for walking anything into the bed, and multiple charging outlets to charge your electric ATVs, or anything else.

The bed also comes with a sliding tonneau cover that you can lock to secure the bed as a cargo area. This is incredibly convenient and allows the Cybertruck to essentially function as an SUV in a pinch. Wouldn’t it be nice if all trucks come with a built-in ramp and locking tonneau cover?

Going the Distance

Lots of wild claims have been made by Tesla regarding the Cybertruck, but before we get to those, let’s take a look at the motors and what kind of range you can expect from this all-electric truck. If you opt for a single motor, you can only expect a range of 250 miles. This is far from the 500-mile range initially leaked to the media, but this is also for the base model that starts at only $39,900. All things considered, this isn’t bad at all for the price, especially if you are only using the truck to tow your boat to a nearby lake or are only driving to the rock yard in town. Dual motors will provide 300-plus miles on a single charge, and the three-motor set-up will give you 500 miles.

Of course, there’s always room for improvement, and that’s where you can find Tesla speculating on how it might improve on these numbers. Musk claims there will be a built-in solar charging system. This system will add 15 to 40 miles of range, he says, depending on conditions. It’s not clear if this will be standard or if it will be available as an option.

While the truck-like numbers are best in its class, the Cybertruck is also putting up some impressive performance numbers. Tesla claims the Cybertruck will go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, topping out at 110 mph. That’s with one motor. The dual-motor model will reportedly reach 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds with a top speed of 120 mph. The three-motor model, however, is the one you will need to escape those pesky pirates on the moon, as it goes from 0 to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds and can reach a top speed of 130 mph.

One Capable Truck

If you’re wondering about off-road capability, the Cybertruck looks to be formidable beyond its Mad Max disposition. All models come with an adjustable air suspension that can be raised and lowered. This gives you up to 16 inches of ground clearance. Consider that the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon has 10.8 inches of ground clearance, and the Cybertruck is starting to sound radical. Off-road capability is not judged solely on ground clearance, though. If you consider its 35-degree approach angle and 28-degree departure angle, it is even more impressive.

So how much can you expect a machine like this to set you back? The base trim, as mentioned earlier, is expected to start at $39,900. This trim level comes with the single motor and rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is not an option for the single-motor trim. The dual-motor trim is expected to start at $49,900 and come with all-wheel drive. For the three-motor trim, which also comes with all-wheel drive, you can expect to spend $69,900. All models will also be outfitted with a 17-inch touchscreen.

There really are not many options listed to differentiate the trim levels. The one option noted is the availability of Tesla’s controversial self-driving feature. The Full Self-Driving option, which is currently being sold for $7,000, will most likely be available, along with other driver-assist technology.

So what can we take away from all of this? For one, the Tesla Cybertruck is like no other truck we have seen. It’s changing our expectations of what a truck can and should be, and that’s always a good thing. We can only wonder, though, if all of Tesla’s claims are based in reality or if they are simply meant to generate buzz by stirring our imagination and turning our attention to a future that may or may not be based more on science fiction tropes than reality. No matter, we will find out soon enough, as the Cybertruck is scheduled to go into production by late 2021.

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