LOS ANGELES - And just like that, Tesla has turned traditional bakkie design completely on its head.
Looking something like a military personnel carrier from another galaxy, the Cybertruck completely forgoes the three-box design template that has formed the basis of every bakkie that’s ever been designed, replacing it with an asymmetrical wedge shape that peaks above the driver’s head and tapers down to the headlights and tailgate.
But it’s not just the looks that are radical. Its exterior shell is described as a “nearly impenetrable exoskeleton” made from ultra-hard 30 x cold-rolled stainless steel and it is said to be resistant to dents and long-term corrosion. It’s also got ultra-strong glass designed not to break, although it did crack like a spider web during a demonstration at the reveal event, when Tesla’s design boss Franz von Holzhausen hurled a metal ball at one of the windows. Tesla founder Elon Musk looked embarrassed, but insisted that the team had literally thrown a kitchen sink at the glass during testing and it hadn't broken. Um... yeah.
But the big question on everyone’s lips whenever an electric vehicle is launched: how far will it go between charges?
That depends on which version you buy, as Tesla is selling it in three configurations, but the range-topping tri-motor all-wheel-drive model is said to offer a range of over 500 miles (805km) and this version will also sprint from 0-60mph (96km/h) in just 2.9 seconds, according to claims.
For the more budget conscious, Tesla will also be offering a dual-motor AWD model, with a 483km range and 4.5 second sprint time, as well as a rear-driven single-motor variant that achieves a more humble 400km range and 6.5 second sprint.
Elon Musk said the vehicle is similar in size to Ford's top-selling F-150 and the towing capacities are competitive too, ranging from 3400kg to 6350kg.
The futuristic truck is not as outrageously expensive as you might think, with prices in the US starting at just $39 900, which is around R585 000 at today’s exchange rate, while fancier versions are expected to cost around $69 900, which is just over a million rand. Bear in mind though that Tesla has yet to enter the South African market, and if the truck did come here the import duties would add a chunk to the price.
It’s not even hitting its home market any time soon, with Tesla only expected to commence production of the Cybertruck towards the end of 2021, although customers can order theirs in the meantime.
"We need sustainable energy now. If we don't have a pickup truck, we can't solve it,” said Elon Musk at the reveal.
“The top 3 selling vehicles in America are pickup trucks. To solve sustainable energy, we have to have a pickup truck.”