Tesla Cybertruck musings: Let's consider all the angles

Tesla Cybertruck musings: Let's consider all the angles

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The Tesla Cybertruck is finally here, or at least a few of them are. Check out our rundown of the livestreamed debut and summary of prices, specs and features, if you haven't already, and my colleague James Riswick has already weighed in with some thoughts.

But yes, the truck is late. Yes, it’s more expensive than expected. No, it doesn’t go as far on a charge, nor hold as much payload, nor tow as much weight as promised. Whatever. That’s Tesla and that’s the new normal, especially when it comes to EVs. (Autonomous cars, anyone? Quad-motor Rivian R1T with the Max Pack, anyone? $40,000 Chevrolet Silverado EV Work Truck, anyone?) We’re all just going to have to get over it.


And why wouldn’t we get over it with this outer space beast to finally enjoy? Look, as you’ll discover if you continue reading, or if you read my pieces on the Tesla Semi, I am no Tesla fanboy. I have zero interest in owning a Cybertruck. I am still thrilled every time I get in my 1999 Ford F-250 Super Duty with the 7.3. But I respect the game. Tesla CEO Musk wanted the "Blade Runner" of pickups, in my opinion, his team delivered. The Cybertruck, as a project and as a vehicle to see on streets, looks cool as sh**. How will it be to live with, or charge, or get repaired, or drive off-road? Owners will know, I don't. But I know that enthusiasts have spent nearly two decades decrying how all cars look the same. Here’s one that doesn’t. I'm with Giorgetto Giugiaro on this one. I applaud it.

Having said that, let’s get into a few issues, questions, and new info about The United Federation of Planets' official pickup.

The size

The production truck is different dimensionally than the concept. A slide with the dimensions shown during the 2019 reveal claimed these numbers: 231.7 inches long, 79.8 inches wide, 75 inches high, with a 6.5-foot bed, 100 cubic feet of exterior storage. Its bed was also said to be 57 inches across, just short of five feet. According to the Cybertruck page at Tesla's site, the production truck in Cyberbeast and AWD trims is 223.7 inches long, 86.6 inches wide with the mirrors folded, 95 inches wide with mirrors out — we'll come back to this point in a second — 70 inches high, with a 6-foot-long bed that's 4 feet across, and 67 cubic feet of lockable storage.

Maximum ride height at the reveal was a claimed 16 inches. We're not sure what the maximum height of the production truck is while moving, but on its tippy toes, the production truck is claimed to get up to 17.4 inches high in Extract Mode, which sounds like it's only for getting out of jams, not normal motoring.

Where are the markers?

The book of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards demands that vehicles wider than 80 inches feature marker lamps — the three amber lights at the front of a vehicle that let other drivers know there's a wide load ahead. The 2024 Ford Raptor R, an exact match for the Cybertruck at 86.6 inches wide without mirrors, wears three amber lights at the leading edge of its hood, atop the grille. The 86.7-inch 2024 GMC Hummer EV shows off three amber lights at the top edge of windshield. The 88-inch-wide 2023 Ram 1500 TRX tucks its marker lights in its hood scoop. Has anyone seen marker lights on the production version of the Cybertruck? We haven't. The concept appeared to mount them at the top of the windshield, however, that's where the optional light bar goes now.

We don't see the lights in twilight photos where the Cybertruck has its headlight and taillight on, nor do we see them in Jason Camissa's video review of the Cybertruck. Maybe the lights will appear at the top of the windshield at some point, but they shouldn't be this difficult to see right now. We'd like to know how the 10 units delivered Thursday night are going to stay on the road legally if the markers aren't on the truck. Then again, the mirror mounts seem kind of recessed, so maybe the body itself squeezes just under the 80-inch mark.

The hyperbole

It’s not a Tesla event without a few statements that can only be answered with a sideways glance. Musk said the Cybertruck is "a better truck than a truck, and a better sports car than a sports car in the same package."

The Cybertruck can and should be celebrated for quite a few things, but this is two lies in one sentence. The Cybertruck isn't for men and women who spend their days doing Real Truck Stuff all day every day, like hauling heavy things, towing heavy things, or even reaching repeatedly over a bedside to grab things. The Cybertruck isn't for the men and women who spend their Sunday mornings hooning sports cars up and down (paved) canyon roads. The Cyberbeast beating a Porsche 911 in a quarter-mile while pulling a 911? Marketing laffy-taffy. A base Corvette Z06 will match the Cyberbeast to 60 if you get the perfect start (Tesla's time doesn't count the rollout), will beat the Cyber in the quarter-mile, and will do so more times on a tank of gas than the Cybertruck will on a charge.

The Cybertruck, like the Tesla Semi, doesn’t need this kind of fluff. Just look at it!

The range extender

Drew Baglino, Tesla's SVP of Powertrain and Energy Engineering, said on X (ex-Twitter) that the range extender is a "toolbox-sized battery" sitting in the bed. By "toolbox," he had to be referring to the lockable toolbox some pickups fit across their beds behind the cab, because the extender is two feet long, four feet wide, and of an unknown height. A bed toolbox filled with tools isn't a portable item. A lithium-ion battery that size? Come on. Further proof, the Cybertruck page contains this sentence about the energy cell: "Go even further with a range extender installed into the Cybertruck’s bed. Offering up to 470 miles of total range. Installed separately."

The battery is claimed to add 130 miles of range to the mid-level AWD trim, delivering that estimated 470-mile range. On the top Cyberbeast trim, the range extender adds 120 miles, for a total of 440 miles of range. The 2024 Fiat 500e and its 42-kWh battery will probably post an EPA-rated range of not much more than 130 miles when it gets here next year. The Fiat 500e is a lot lighter than a Cybertruck, with a lot less frontal area. There’s no way the Cybertruck range extender is portable, hence the word “Installed” in the description. This is going to live in the bed. An X user who dug through Tesla website's HTML found source data suggesting the range extender will cost $16,000, which is roughly the cost of replacing the entire 82-kWh battery in the Model 3.

We don't know what this accessory will run, but it won't be cheap and it won't be light, so prepare to give up a chunk of that 2,500-pound max payload capacity.

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