First of Tesla's 'bulletproof' Cybertrucks clunks off production line
Wait, so it wasn't an elaborate joke?
It's been almost four years since we were able to write "Absolutely smashing: Musk shows off Tesla's 'bulletproof' low-poly pickup, hilarity ensues".
The world was a simpler place. COVID hadn't happened, Russia was mostly keeping to itself, and the Tesla CEO hadn't blown $44 billion on buying Twitter.
So a car crash (pun intended) unveiling of Tesla's tilt at the pickup truck market was big news – Elon Musk's antics hogged far fewer headlines back then.
If you recall, much was made of the futuristic, Blade Runner-esque Cybertruck being "literally bulletproof." However, when Musk and team attempted to demonstrate the truck's credentials outside LA on that fateful November evening of 2019, a weighty metal ball thrown by chief designer Franz von Holzhausen was able to shatter the "armor glass" on the prototype.
Going by Musk's physical response, it was an embarrassing gaffe for the electric car company. But what might have been even more embarrassing is that the Cybertruck was supposed to begin production in 2020-21.
OK, no one could have predicted that the worst pandemic in decades was going to dominate those years, and Musk cited component shortages as the reason why production had been pushed back.
Those provisional deadlines flew past, and it took until the beginning of this year to get solid confirmation that production would soon begin on the cyberpunk pickup. Musk told an earnings call in January that the vehicle wouldn't have a meaningful impact on Tesla's product line until 2024, saying: "The start of production is always very slow so I wouldn't put too much stock in start of production. It's kind of when does volume production actually happen, and that's next year."
Over the weekend, though, it appeared that Tesla had ironed out the kinks with the first Cybertruck rolling off the assembly line at the Giga Texas factory in Austin, with Tesla and Musk marking the occasion on Twitter (where else?).
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The delay has meant that other vehicle makers have been able to beat Tesla to market with electric pickups. Ford, home of America's best-selling F-150, hurried out a battery-powered version called the Lightning last year, and newcomer Rivian has also increased deliveries of its R1T equivalent.
In terms of appearance, neither mark a departure from their gas-guzzling counterparts – an intentional move to sway traditionalists. The Cybertruck, on the other hand, is a statement vehicle, boasting "better utility than a truck with more performance than a sports car." The Register suspects that few will be using the truck for its notional purpose as a farming tool.
In 2019, the price was pegged at $39,900, a tag that makes little sense four years later when other Tesla cars like the Y start at $47,490. All the same, the Cybertruck has been one of the most highly anticipated car launches ever with thousands paying a $100 reservation fee to bagsie one.
In May, the company stopped taking orders for the Cybertruck outside of North America. Musk said Tesla had "more orders of the first Cybertrucks than we could possibly fulfill for three years after the start of production."
There has also been suggestion that the company is struggling to scale up in-house production of Tesla's vaunted 4680 battery, which powers the Cybertruck.
So that waiting list may have to wait even longer. ®