Tesla Cybertruck: What We Were Promised Vs. What We Got

Electric Vehicles / Comments

The Cybertruck has changed a lot since it first debuted in 2019.

Tesla fanboys rejoice, for your deity and savior has finally made good on his promise to deliver the Cybertruck.

The first batch of deliveries have been made, and though not a single unit went to an actual customer, the Tesla Cybertruck is now a fully-fledged production car. After promising it would go into production every year since its unveiling in 2019, it turns out the last day of November 2023 was the golden moment. If we apply the same Musk Maths as a guideline, the Tesla Roadster should arrive in 2026, four years after reservations opened.

At the unveiling of the Tesla Cybertruck in Austin, Musk had a clear message for all his detractors. "It's very rare that a product comes along that is seemingly impossible. That people said was impossible. That experts said was impossible. And this is one of those times," Musk said in the debut livestream. "I think [the Cybertruck] is our best product and the most unique thing on the road. And finally, the future would look like the future."

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The two catchlines for the Cybertruck are that it's more utility than a truck and is faster than a sports car. But that's all marketing jargon, just like Musk's claims that if Al Capone showed up with a Tommy Gun to shoot you in the face, you'd make it through.

We could make fun of the presentation all day long, but we'd rather take a look at everything Elon Musk and Tesla promised over the last four years compared with the actual electric truck people will get.

We're not going to comment on the wedge-shaped design, as so much has already been said. We find it impressive that managed to get over two million people to pay a reservation for a stainless steel doorstop that poses a very real threat to pedestrians. But hey, whether you get hit by a Cybertruck or a Ford F-150 Lightning, you're not gonna have a good time.

Let's look at what Musk promised and what he delivered.

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Stainless Steel Vs. Tesla Steel

While we're not interested in discussing the design, we must discuss the material. The Cybertruck was always meant to be a stainless steel truck because steel doesn't rust, is more resistant to impacts, is fire and heat-resistant, and is sustainable.

At the Cybertruck's delivery event, Musk revealed that the panels you see are not made of stainless steel as we know it. Instead, it's a Tesla-designed steel alloy, which gives the car incredible torsional rigidity. It's called HFS (Hard F****** Steel) and according to Musk, the Cybertruck has more torsional rigidity than a McLaren P1. The P1 may be outdated, but that's seriously impressive.

Tesla also shared some crash test footage, not conducted by a recognized organization. Tesla's steel seems to hold up well in a collision. As Musk says, if you're ever in an argument with another car, you will win.

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Bulletproof Vs. Bullet Resistant

During the presentation, Musk kept referring to the Cybertruck as bulletproof, probably much to the dismay of the lawyers in attendance. Tesla makes no such claims on its website, simply stating that the exoskeleton helps to reduce dents, damage, and long-term corrosion. It will also make dented panels easy to repair.

By now, you've probably seen images of the car after being shot with a Tommy Gun, and you might have heard that Joe Rogan shot it with a compound bow. Neither weapon could make it through the exoskeleton. Still, as several people correctly pointed out in the article covering these shenanigans, a Tommy Gun hardly represents what this car will likely face.

If you're the kind of person in a position likely to get shot, don't rely on a Cybertruck to protect you. A Tommy Gun has a muzzle velocity of 935 ft/s, while an AR-15's rounds travel at between 2,800 to 3,200 ft/s.

Unless the person wishing to make Swiss Cheese out of you is obsessed with the Prohibition era, they'll likely come to the party with a more modern firearm.

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Tesla Armor Glass Vs. Shatter-Resistant

In what turned out to be one of the biggest marketing flops in modern automotive history, the Cybertruck failed to stop a metal ball flung at its window back in 2019. The American automaker said it would refine its Tesla Armor Glass.

The production Cybertruck only has shatter-resistant armor glass, which can stop a baseball flung at 70 mph and Class 4 hail. The glass also makes the interior quieter.

While this is not what Musk promised, no other truck can boast the same. As far as unique selling points go, Tommy Gun and baseball resistance are two relatively cool shock-and-awe features that Ford, Rivian, Ram, and Chevrolet don't have an answer to.

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Will It Float?

Elon Musk famously said the Cybertruck would float for short periods. During the presentation, no mention was made of the electric truck's ability to cross Lake Superior.

We guess it has something to do with the government's statement released shortly after, asking people not to use their electric vehicles as boats. With the Feds already keeping a close eye on Tesla, it was perhaps not the best time to tell customers to drive into a lake.

Still, looking at the history of Tesla fanboys doing silly things to prove what their cars are capable of, it's only a matter of time before a Cybertruck ends up in the drink.

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Crab Walk: A Possibility

Tesla was working on a Crab Walk feature to rival the Hummer EV. It might have changed course after Hyundai debuted an Ioniq 5 with actual crab-walking abilities and much more. As promised, the car is equipped with rear-wheel steering, which should make it feel more nimble.

One of Tesla's biggest strengths is the ability to update cars. It was the first mass manufacturer to adopt over-the-air updates as we know them now, and it constantly gives customers new features. These range from farting noises to the most recent self-driving features.

All the mechanical bits are in place, and Tesla might add crab-walking via an update. Since the first models were delivered to Tesla employees, we're 100% certain that Tesla still has a few things to iron out before the truck reaches customers.

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Interior: No Longer A Six-Seater

When the first images of the Cybertruck's interior dropped, we noticed it had front and rear benches, with seating for three in the front and three in the rear. The production model is more pragmatic, with two individual seats in the front and a three-seat bench in the back.

We're willing to overlook this because the production interior is much better than the somber version of the pre-production model. We were hoping that Tesla would add some warmth to the minimalist interior. The good news is that it comes with an all-glass roof, which should illuminate the cabin, making it feel more spacious even with the interior clad in a dark color. We don't know if other interior color options will be available, but chances are high. For now, you need to pay $250 to get on the reservation list, and Tesla will invite you to configure your truck when the time comes.

We are impressed with the technology on display on the inside. Passengers in the front get an 18.5-inch Infinity Touchscreen, while those in the rear get a 9.4-inch touchscreen with an all-new user interface. Expect it to be equipped with games in the front and back.

The ability to charge devices and equipment is next level. The Cybertruck boasts wireless chargers, 65W USB-C, and 120V/240V outlets.

A built-in hospital-grade HEPA filter also protects against 99.97% of airborne particles.

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Power Outputs: Less Than Expected

In December 2021, Musk tweeted that we can expect a quad-motor model. That's obviously not the case, with the tri-motor Cyberbeast being the top-spec model. We were expecting roughly 1,000 horsepower, as that's what the tri-motor Plaid models produce.

Unfortunately, the Cybertruck will have to slot in below the Hummer EV pickup. It's interesting to note that Tesla's tri-motor setup produces 845 hp, which is more than Rivian's quad-motor setup.

The quoted torque figure for the Cyberbeast is 10,296 lb-ft, taking the same unique approach to torque figures as Hummer by combining the total torque applied to the wheels and not at the output shafts connected to the motors. It's an easy way to make torque figures look more robust than they actually are, making it more complicated to directly compare with the Cybertruck's rivals. The AWD dual-motor setup produces 600 hp and 7,435 lb-ft.

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A rear-wheel-drive model will only join the range in 2025, but no power figures were provided. We're guessing the answer is not much, as this model's claimed 0-60 mph figure is 6.5 seconds.

For the record, the AWD model will get to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, while the Cyberbeast will hit 60 mph in 2.6 seconds. The lesser models are capped at 112 mph, and the 'Beast will hit 130 mph. That's probably for the best, considering it weighs 6,800 pounds.

Even though the Cybertruck's outputs are not that impressive, it is officially the quickest truck there is to 60 and over the quarter-mile, for whatever that's worth.

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Range: Half Off

The original claim was 500 miles, and there isn't a single model that gets close. The best Tesla can do is 470 miles of range with an AWD model equipped with a range extender, which is basically just an extra battery loaded in the bed. Without the range extender, the AWD model can do 340 miles.

The Cyberbeast is estimated to go 320 miles between charges, going up to 440 miles with the range extender.

The biggest disappointment is the RWD model, which should have been the most impressive of the lot. Tesla has not revealed the battery sizes, but we expect the base model will have a smaller battery, as it can only travel 250 miles. That's precisely half of Musk's original claims.

Thankfully, the Cybertruck can charge quickly. Using 250 kW charging, the Cyberbeast can add 128 miles in 15 minutes, while the AWD can add 136 miles in the same timeframe. No claims were made for the RWD, which is more proof that it will have a lesser battery.

These ranges might not be as good as Musk initially claimed, but if they are confirmed following an EPA test, the Cybertruck will have more range than the F-150 Lightning and be on par with the R1T.

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Towing And Hauling: Undecided

The original claimed figure for towing was 14,000 lbs, but it has dropped to 11,000 lbs for the AWD and Cyberbeast models. Tesla also dropped the ball with hauling. The 6.5-foot bed (which has shrunk to six feet) was expected to carry 3,500 lbs, but that figure has dropped by 1,000 lbs. This will drop even more with the range extender loaded on the back.

These figures are insignificant for now, however. As we know, electric vehicles are not good at towing, and that's true across the board. While the Cybertruck has an impressive drag coefficient of 0.335, it can't match the Rivian R1T's 0.30.

This will impact the towing range, but we'll have to wait for the first real-world tests to see whether the Cybertruck can tow anything over a meaningful distance.

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Size: Missing A Few Inches

The Cybertruck is also smaller than expected. The original figures were 231.7 inches long, 75 inches tall, and 79.8 inches wide.

The finished product is significantly smaller, as it's only 223.7 inches long and 70.5 inches tall. It is much broader, measuring 95 inches with the mirrors extended. This puts it in the same ballpark as the Lightning and Rivian.

Yet Tesla increased its original claimed exterior storage space even with the smaller body. Tesla came out with 100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable space, including the bed and the frunk. This figure has grown to 120.9 cubes of storage, even though the frunk appeared to be relatively small in the first spy shots.

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Price: Not For The Average American

Despite Tesla's ability to change pricing on a whim due to its advanced manufacturing methods, the Cybertruck launched as an expensive proposition. Initially, Elon Musk said the base model would retail for $40,000, with the AWD selling for $10k more. The tri-motor Cyberbeast was supposed to retail for $70,000.

That pricing has gone out the window, as the base model costs an estimated $60,990, with the AWD increasing to $79,990 and the Cyberbeast coming in just ten bucks under $100k.

To make the prices more palatable, Tesla's site also includes a probable savings tab, which takes roughly $10,000 off the price of the base and AWD models. Even with potential savings, the Cyberbeast is going to cost $96,000.

Interestingly, the base model's probable savings are calculated using the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) benefits. The AWD and Cyberbeast retail for more than the IRA allows, so Tesla uses a formula to calculate the estimated gas savings. In short, you'll still pay full price for the mid- and top-spec models, but you'll feel good because you're saving thousands of dollars over three years.

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2024 Tesla Cybertruck Front-End View
2024 Tesla Cybertruck Spare Tire

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