Hallelujah, the Cyberbeast
The cybertruck is here. Well, sort of.
And guess what? It’s a dud.
Last Thursday was the “Cybertruck Delivery Event.” The trucks finally rolled off the production line to be handed over to waiting customers, reports Ross Anderson in the Spectator. But wait a moment…
Musk served as chaperone, host and speaker, and the event was a hype-fest for fanboys. As the presentation started, it was hard to tell whether some in the crowd were shouting “Elon” or “hallelujah” (I think the latter). He presented a polished marketing video, markedly sparse on specs, but promised that the Cybertruck was one of those rare products that change how we see the world; that it is “more truck than truck,” while also being “a better sports car than a sports car” and the best product Tesla had ever made.
Only 10 Lucky Customers
Despite being a “delivery event,” only ten customers drove away with theirs. Every other potential Cybertruck owner will still have to wait until next year at minimum to receive theirs; and that’s only if they drop $100,000 on the top of the line “Cyberbeast.” Most customers will be waiting until 2025 or 2026.
Inflation Is a Bitch
The promise was the Cybertruck would be released in three skews: at $40,000, $50,000, and $70,000, with a 500-mile range.
Instead, the $100,000 Cyberbeast comes with 845 horsepower and 10,296-pound feet of torque, tops out at 130mph, can tow 11,000 pounds, and does 0-60 in under three seconds.
It’s damn cool, permits Mr. Anderson, but it better be for $100,000. Its range of 320 miles falls short of 180 miles of the promised range.
If you’re not looking to fork out $100,000 on a Cybertruck, your next option is to buy “All Wheel Drive.” It has a similar range and towing capacity, but drops to 600 horsepower, 4.1 seconds 0-60 time and costs $80,000 ($30,000 more than initially advertised). Yes, there is an entry-level two-wheel-drive Cybertruck, not available until sometime in 2025. It has only 250 miles of range and a far more conventional 6.5 second 0-60 time, with no stated power or torque figure, top speed, or towing capacity (either because those numbers are not great, or because they haven’t figured out what it’ll be yet). The actual sticker price is $61,000.
Mr. Anderson reports on the shock from the Cybertruck when it was announced in 2019.
Everyone knew Tesla was going to enter the lucrative pick-up truck space — after all, the Ford F-150 remains the bestselling vehicle in America — but most expected a conventional-looking truck, not the metallic, polygonal, unpainted DeLorean truck of our dystopian future.
To some, it’s the most hideous car ever produced; and the short front, disproportionally small wheels, long windscreen and oversized windscreen wiper don’t help that. From some angles, it looks like a bad kit car, particularly given Tesla’s infamously bad panel gaps. But to me, it’s one of the most badass, dramatic vehicles ever to reach production (ignoring the utterly bland, characterless interior). It’s a mad Giugiaro concept car for a Seventies sci-fi film with an insane light signature, but you’ll actually be able to buy it.
Shoot Your Truck?
Its polygonal shape was supposed to be easier to manufacture, thus reducing costs. But Musk decided to make the Cybertruck out of a proprietary bullet-proof steel composite, which is so tough that it can’t be stamped as “the body panels would break the stamping machine.” This undoubtedly contributes to the Cybertruck’s enormous 6,850-pound curb weight and will make repairs and replacement panels heinously expensive. Given that Tesla has a reputation for poor, overpriced service charges — a Model S owner was quoted $18,000 for a replacement battery the other day — this will take that to a new level. And yes, the panels will break and get dinted, as the crash safety videos showed; crumple zones are a necessity.
How badass is that to be able to shoot your own truck?
Cybertruck vs Another Electric Truck
The Ford F-150 Lightning is more conventional, practical, affordable and is actually on sale. You can buy one today. The Rivian R1T is just as powerful and has just as good tech, but is more conventionally attractive, cheaper and has better range. And they’re available to buy now too. But what if you want something ridiculously large, extremely powerful, very heavy and unpractical, but stylish? Well, the Hummer EV (which Musk conveniently ignored in his presentation) does the job better than the Cybertruck. It’s actually more powerful and — crucially — is available now. And if you want a truck that truly takes advantage of the unique benefits of an EV powertrain, put a deposit down for a Telo MT1, which has a similar bed capacity to the Cybertruck, but within the footprint of a Mini Cooper.
Assume You’re Being Hauled by a Unicorn over Marshmellows
More to the point, continues Mr. Anderson, “if you actually need a truck for your work, you shouldn’t go electric.” The price premium for an electric truck is immense (a base combustion F-150 starts at $34,000, whereas the electric F-150 Lightning starts at $60,000), the range collapses with cold weather and as a Ford representative reportedly told Neal Pollack in the Observer, “The 300-mile range is assuming you’re floating on marshmallows while tugged along by a unicorn.”
“As soon as you start towing anything or use the payload — the point of a truck — the number collapses. And the Cybertruck doesn’t do anything to address these core problems.”
Elon Musk, accuses Mr. Anderson, has made a truck for one type of customer base: crypto millionaires looking to show off as they cruise through Miami.
But, as it took so long to release, all those crypto millionaires are now broke or in jail.