Life Auto ‘I wanted to make a futuristic battle tank’: Elon Musk reveals his Cybertruck inspiration
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‘I wanted to make a futuristic battle tank’: Elon Musk reveals his Cybertruck inspiration

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Elon Musk has shocked precisely no-one by revealing the radical battery-electric Tesla Cybertruck was designed without conducting customer research.

No bull.

Unveiled in November 2019 and due on-sale in 2022, the Cybertruck was an instant sensation because of its angular shape, exoskeleton chassis, incredible performance and impressive pricing claims.

Pre-orders for the Cybertruck had reportedly reached 700,000 by July 2020. It will be built at a new Tesla Gigafactory in Texas.

“Customer research? We just made a car we thought was awesome and looked super-weird,” Musk told the Daily Drive podcast.

“I just wanted to make a futuristic battle tank, something that looked like it came out of Bladerunner or Aliens or something like that,” he said, referencing two iconic sci-fi movie franchises.

Warming to his theme, Musk later added:

“The body panels are bulletproof to a handgun so probably helpful in the apocalypse.

“Let me tell you the truck you want in the apocalypse is the Cybertruck.

“We wish to be the leader in apocalypse technology.”

The Cybertruck’s unusual design has received mixed reviews.

Musk admitted he was bracing himself for negative response to the Cybertruck when it was unveiled.

“People could have been like, ‘Oh wow, you’re crazy. That car doesn’t look like any other car, we are not going to buy it’. That could have been one of the outcomes.

“I wasn’t super worried about that because if it turns out no one wants to buy a weird-looking truck we’ll build a normal-looking truck no problem.

“There are lots of normal trucks out there that look much the same – you can hardly tell the difference. Sure we could do some copycat truck, that’s easy.”

A truck like no other

Those other pick-ups Musk was referencing include the world’s best-selling vehicle, the Ford F-150, the Chevrolet Silverado and the RAM. These are all internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.

But there is also a fleet of electric trucks coming, including an F-150 derivative, a Chevrolet, a GMC Hummer and offerings from start-ups including Rivian, Nikola Lordstown, Bollinger and Fisker.

Musk doesn’t seem to be concerned about any of them – and who can blame him given the response to the Cybertruck.

“The reaction has been amazing, we’ve had several hundred thousand people place orders and we’ve mad more excitement about the Cybertruck than any other vehicle we have ever unveiled,” he said.

Beyond the weird shape, the Cybertruck has a bunch of other unique features.

It will be made from cold-rolled steel that’s bulletproof to a handgun. It’s also claimed to have shatter-proof glass, although not at the launch, when front and rear windows memorably succumbed to heavy balls thrown by Tesla’s chief designer, Franz von Holshauzen.

As revealed as a concept vehicle, the Cybertruck measured up at nearly six metres long. Musk later hinted the production version will be slightly smaller, but has since changed his mind.

Side mirrors have also replaced cameras and windshield wipers have been added to deal with rain, replacing hydrophobic coating and – allegedly – lasers.

Tesla is touting single; dual and tri-motor versions of the Cybertruck, with a $US39,900 starting price ($56,000 approximately).

The single-motor, rear-wheel drive version is claimed to hit 60mph (97km/h) in 6.5 seconds and offer a base range of more than 250 miles (402k/m).

The mid-range dual-motor all-wheel drive Cybertruck’s 0 to 60mph acceleration is stated at just 4.5 seconds and its range at 300 miles (480km).

The triple-motor AWD model is claimed to hit 60mph in just 2.9sec and achieve a 209km/h top speed. Its range is stated at 500 miles or 800km – almost 100 miles more than the longest-range Tesla Model S sedan.

All Cybertruck models have a payload of 1588kg and the base model is rated to tow 7500 pounds (3402kg).

“Remember it (Cybertruck) is also highly functional. It has incredible capabilities. It’s basically as fast as a Porsche 911 and has more towing power and trucking capability than a (Ford) F-150,” Musk told Daily Drive.

“So it’s a better sports car than a 911 and a better truck than an F-150.

“This is something you could use to tow a boat, horse trailer, pull tree stumps out of the ground, go off-roading and not have to worry about scratching the paint because there is no paint.

“You can be smashing boulders and be fine, be great.”

While the Cybertruck won’t be painted, a process called tempering can produce a limited palette by heating the steel. The colours range from faint yellow through to light blue, dark blue, brown and purple.

Can I get one?  Please, can I?

In Australia the Cybertruck has attracted a significant number of orders and the Tesla website says it will be sold globally.

But Musk has thrown some doubts over that, telling Daily Drive the Cybertruck was aimed at North America and he doubted it would be compliant with regulations in Europe.

Australia’s design rules and EU regulations line up in many ways, suggesting the Cybertruck may not comply here either. The solution could be that smaller truck already ruled out for the US.

“We made the exec decision to not make a world truck, so it does not comply with a lot of EU spec and stuff,” Musk said.

“But that’s ok we can always build a slightly smaller truck that does comply with EU spec in the future.

“We are fundamentally making this truck as a North American ass-kicker. Our goal is to kick the most amount of ass possible with this truck.”

Bruce Newton is an Australian motoring journalist and co-founder of electric vehicles website EV Central