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Tesla Cybertruck controversially breaks the conventional truck mold

Last night, Tesla unveiled its long-awaited truck to the world.

Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors

Remember the time when Ford's aluminum bed and GMC's Multi-Pro tailgate were the most outside-the-box thing in the truck world? That was yesterday. Then, Tesla revealed its long-awaited electric pickup truck, the Tesla Cybertruck, to a collective gasp.

The gasp wasn't just from truck traditionalists, it was from auto enthusiasts and tech giants, stock brokers and EV startup companies. Many people expected many different things from the Tesla truck, but what they saw on stage next to Tesla CEO Elon Musk wasn't what most envisioned.

Off the bat, there are two words that come to mind looking at the truck - risk and chance. While Car Twitter bemoans the similarities between much of the vehicles in the crossover market day in and day out, the team at Tesla was taking inspiration from the film "Blade Runner" and designing something futuristic and unconventional.

Prior to the reveal, Musk teased the truck's design inspiration.

He tweeted that the truck could possibly be used on Mars (without revealing the logistics of any type of operation that would get it there).

There's been no word yet on who at Mars Tesla should write a check to in order to receive "Official Truck of Mars" status.

The truck has the traditional truck components. There's a cab and bed, wheels, power source, and a drivetrain. Sure, it's not a muscular beast like the Ford F-150 or even the Rivian R1T, but that doesn't make it less of a truck, does it?

Consider the stats. The Cybertruck has the ability to tow more than 14,000 pounds and can handle a payload of up to 3,500 pounds. Those numbers are head and shoulders above what the Honda Ridgeline, Toyota Tacoma, and Nissan Titan offer.

The bed has 100 cubic feet of cargo space. That's about twice what the 2018 Chevrolet Silverado short box delivered. None of the pickups currently on the market, with the exception of the Ridgeline, offer an under bed or frunk lockable storage area. Tesla is offering a frunk in the Cybertruck.

The body of the Tesla truck is made of steel, just like the body of most other trucks.

The design was risky and Tesla, a publicly traded company, took a chance. Love it or hate it, the Cybertruck is here. Well, at least one of them is.

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The Roadster's specs are impressive, to say the least.

Tesla

Elon Musk took to a stage in late 2017 to announce a new product, the second-generation Tesla Roadster, and the numbers were impressive, even for a guy known to casually drop massive bombshells in 160 characters or less on Twitter. He pledged a 620-mile range and a 0-60 mph time in 1.9 seconds for the car – impressive specs, to be sure. When Musk unveiled the car, production was scheduled to commence some time in 2020, but as we all now know, last year wasn't a banner year for car manufacturing. In January, he pushed that date back to 2022, but the timeline has slipped again - into 2023 at this point - and that's only if everything goes smoothly between now and then.


Tesla Roadster Supply chain issues have caused delays in the Roadster's release.Tesla


Responding to a tweet on Wednesday, Musk stated that "assuming 2022 is not mega drama, new Roadster should ship in 2023." That's a pretty big asterisk, given how things have been going over the last 18 months. It's not surprising, though, and Musk acknowledges what we've known for some time now: The global supply chain is a mess, thanks to microchip shortages and pandemic-related closures and delays. "2021 has been the year of super crazy supply chain shortages," he said, admitting that "it wouldn't matter if we had 17 new products, as none would ship." Again, it's not surprising, but it is most likely frustrating for reservation holders, who've plopped down anywhere from $50,000 to $250,000 to hold an order for the Roadster.




Tesla is far from being the only automaker to experience delays, but even if we assume that the rest of 2021 and the beginning of 2022 go smoothly, there's still a lot that can happen. All of Tesla's suppliers would have to get their ducks in a row and there can be no COVID-related production delays. That would also peg 2022 as one of the automaker's flagship years for product releases, with both the Semi and Cybertruck on the schedule. It's possible, but far from guaranteed, that all of those pieces fall into place, making Tesla's 2022 a banner year. As for the Roadster, 2023 could be the year that we're all blown away by its range and acceleration, but recent history suggests that anything can happen at any time, so we won't be holding our breath.

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Tesla claims that its Cybertruck will go into production this year.

Photo courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

In a presentation to investors this morning, Ford Motor Company revealed that it has received 70,000 reservations for its just-debuted F-150 Lightning electric truck. Its on-paper chief rival, the Tesla Cybertruck, has over one million according to data acquired by Finbold. Rivian, who is nearly ready to start production of its R1T all-electric truck, has over 30,000 reservations, according to reporting by InsideEVs.

Reservations are not orders or sales though they do serve as an indicator of the buying public's enthusiasm for a new model. More and more automakers are switching to online reservations to gauge buyer interest, determine proper product mix, and stay in touch with clients on a more personal level. Hyundai did this with the 2022 Tucson and Ford has successfully used it to launch the Mustang Mach-E.


2022 Ford F-150 Lightning The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning has an all-electric powertrain in its familiar body. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Tesla opened reservations for the Cybertruck immediately following its debut around the same time as the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show where the Mustang Mach-E also debuted. Last July, Finbold revealed that their data showed that there were around 650,000 reservations. In 2018 and 2019 Tesla produced 612,120 vehicles.

Finbold's fresh research indicates that as of May 25, 2021, estimated Cybertruck reservations had reached 1.08 million. That number is more than the 866,750 total vehicles delivered by Tesla in two years between 2019 and 2020.

Though construction at the future home of the Cybertruck, Tesla's Austin, Texas plant, is ongoing, Tesla no longer features the Cybertruck alongside its existing models. The truck's homepage is currently housed in a "see more" style hamburger menu as a singular link alongside the Roadster and Semi. The Cybertruck was originally slated to begin production later this year.

The F-150 Lightning is expected to reach consumers ahead of the Tesla Cybertruck despite the fact that the Cybertruck was unveiled years ahead of the F-Series model. Both have fully electric powertrains. Ford will also offer the electric truck in a fleet version.

Ford has given more specifics about the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning than Tesla has about the Cybertruck. It will look much like a traditional F-150 but have an electric powertrain that gives it a maximum of 563 horsepower and 773 pound-feet of torque. The truck is being built to be capable of towing though doing so will likely decrease the truck's 300-mile maximum range considerably.

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