2022 Tesla Cybertruck: Wired for Off-Road and Capability
Is this a glimpse at the future of the electric adventure truck?
Were you expecting the 2022 Tesla Cybertruck to be a Honda Ridgeline with batteries? Did you expect Tesla to play it safe and work off the same template that Rivian has been shopping around? Did you expect a vehicle with more range and capability than a Bollinger B2? What exactly did you expect?
We struggled with the same question when we were invited out a month before the 2022 Tesla Cybertruck concept reveal to Tesla's Hawthorne, California campus, adjacent to SpaceX and the Hawthorne airport to give feedback on the truck. All we can tell you is that much like many of you, we weren't even close. Despite a myriad of speculation and expert conjecture, what awaited us behind a secured door into Tesla's design studio wasn't anywhere close to what we had predicted amongst ourselves.
With a swipe of a key card, our small team from Motor Trend, Truck Trend, and Four Wheeler were led into the design studio and into the imagination of the Tesla design team. Upon first sight we thought, "this isn't it right? It can't be. It's too raw, too unrefined." Looking something out of a futurist movie from the '80s, or a fascinating mix of first-gen stealth technology, mixed with the 8-bit simplicity of our digital youth, there it sat unapologetically, the 2022 Tesla Cybertruck.
If you ever wanted to fly the F-117 Nighthawk that might have graced the poster on your bedroom wall at some point, the Tesla Cybertruck might be the closest you'll ever get to the experience. Its angular design is simple, almost to a fault. It reminds us of the sketches that filled our textbooks in high school. Yet, as you walk around it and soak it in, there are small details where form and function fight a little a try to form a sometimes-unholy alliance.
Take for example the awkward peak of the roof that feels as if it should start its downward slide much sooner. It's a curious feature that doesn't make sense until you realize that the peak exists where it does because it houses a hidden lightbar for off roading. That fast windshield is designed with advanced glass that will resist stone chips and cracking. The 8-year-old boy in us wants to scream "hell yes", but everything we have learned from over 20 years in the truck industry has us pumping the brakes. While it is difficult to really gauge a design indoors, our guess is that it looks absolutely brutal and significantly eye-catching in the wild and in the sun.
From the apex of the peak, the four-door crew cab features sail panels that fall toward the canted tailgate and will include storage on the production truck. The bed, which is 6.5 feet long, includes accessory rails and tiedowns, and features a rolling and lockable tonneau cover that stows in a concealed compartment ahead of the bed. The bed is a generous 57-inches wide and doesn't suffer from any wheel intrusion. A Ridgeline-like trunk is positioned in the floor.
About the size of a traditional crew cab half-ton truck, the diamond-shaped stainless-steel body (the concept is on a frame, but the production Tesla Cybertruck will be unibody) is 3mm thick and resists corrosion, scratching, and even 9mm bullets. No seriously, the truck is literally bulletproof. The simple lines and material means that production is easier, and that the trucks don't need to be painted. Basically, if you want a color other than that beautiful uncoated stainless, a wrap is probably in your future.
Boasting a wide body, think Ford Raptor track width, except the body exhales all the way to the wheel faces, the Tesla Cybertruck is designed to comfortably fit six in a 3+3 arrangement. While the outside takes a dramatic turn from Tesla's current design direction, the interior will be familiar to anyone who is used to the brands spartan and airy aesthetic.
Controversially, all of the driver's information is accessed through a single center-mounted screen and we didn't notice any hard buttons. We asked that the Tesla team consider adding a driver-centric screen in front of the steering wheel and some buttons, knowing how truck owners like to interact with their vehicles, so we'll see what the eventual production Cybertruck holds.
We should also point out that forward, over-the-shoulder, and rearward visibility were a concern in our early interaction with the Cybertruck, but Tesla tells us they will be supplementing visibility with an arrangement of sensors and cameras to assist the driver.
Regardless of whether you are a fan of the design or not, it's hard to argue with the specs that Tesla lobbed our way. The Cybertruck isn't intended to be a truck pretender. Eventually powered by up to three of Tesla's upcoming "Plaid" electric motors, we estimate that the production truck could have as much as 800 horsepower and 1,000 lb-ft of torque. This is more than enough power to move the Cybertruck's estimated 3,350-pound max payload and 14,000-pound max trailer rating.
Those are numbers that are going to require a massive battery and Tesla will have a base system that will offer around 300 miles of range from new technology. A novel stacked battery arrangement will be optional and will extend the range to around 450 miles. These absolutely shatter the ranges currently being quoted by Bollinger, and safely above the optional topline range currently quoted by Rivian on the upcoming R1.
With off-roading and adventure important to the Tesla team, the engineers went to great lengths to give the Cybertruck a flat and protected belly to allow for generous ground clearance and the ability to slide over obstacles. The Cybertruck features four-wheel drive and will have technology to manage the power output and traction of the factory 35-inch tires.
Adjustable air suspension will not only be able to drop for aero, raise for wheeling, and level front and back, side to side, but will able to lower the back of the truck to ease loading in bikes, ATVs, or cargo. More importantly, the Cybertruck has incredibly long A-arms and it would appear that there is significantly more than a foot of wheel travel. We've also been promised an advanced shock package that should allow it to do some pretty cool things in the dirt.
Now we'd understand if you need to let the Tesla Cybertruck marinate for a while before you can wrap your head around it, we had to also. Our own initial reactions were all over the place. As traditional truck people, we feel like every preconceived notion we've known about trucks has been shattered. We feel violated. We think we need a shower, a cigarette and a nap, in no particular order. It clearly challenges any notion of what a pickup is and maybe it isn't even a pickup, maybe it's really an SUT. We aren't quite sure yet.
As to capability, range, payload, and towing numbers, they all sound amazing on paper, but will Tesla be able to deliver? Will they be able to test against industry standards, such as J2807? Will the Cybertruck be stable and heavy enough to out tow the competition? Will there be enough range with a heavy trailer in tow? Is there a fast-enough solution to charge a double battery pack quickly on a long trip? Will we be able to drive to our favorite off-road location, spend the day on the trail and get home? Will the drivetrain be robust enough for what we want to throw at it? How's that rack going to attach? These are all important questions that will have to be sorted out before the production truck hits the street in the next few years.
Ultimately it comes down to this: Is this the vehicle that Tesla can win people over who want to hate a Tesla in the pickup space. Rivian is doing the expected, Rivian is what everyone expected Tesla to do. Tesla is doing everyone one better, at least in terms of thinking freshly. With an alleged starting price of around $40,000, we are willing to keep our minds open.
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