I am sitting in the SolarQuotes office awaiting revelation. In just one hour, plus 20-30 minutes to allow for Tesla time, Elon Musk will reveal to the world the wonders of the Tesla electric ute. The first wonder is it’s not called a ute, it’s called a Cybertruck. Personally, I would have gone with Wonder Ute myself, but if you fail to keep me on a retainer that kind of genius is just going to pass you by, Elon.
Cybertruck is a ute, but Americans don’t call them that. They are pickup trucks over there. This is a stupid name because they don’t have arms and so can’t pick up anything. Or maybe now they can. Perhaps robo-arms will be one of its many wonders.
Pickup utes are a rapidly growing segment of the US car market because, well… no one knows. Not even Americans seem to have a clue. They bought 2.8 million of them last year and only 15% are used for any kind of work purpose, so I just don’t get it. Surely there can’t be that many Americans who are thinking one day they may need to get rid of a lot of bodies.
My friend James has a big luxury ute that he uses to drive to his pilates class and I know why he has it. He’s an idiot.1 But surely the people who put men on the moon, gave us triple bacon and can’t-legally-be-described-as-cheese-in-this-country burgers, and put 5 blades on a disposable razor can’t be stupid?
What’s In A Name? (Apart From Murder Cyborgs)
While the prefix “mega” officially became uncool in 1992, the “cyber” prefix never became entirely lame despite the fact the first cyberpunk novel was written way back in 1984 and mentioned a black market deal involving 4 megabytes of RAM.
So naming the Tesla electric ute the “Cybertruck” may seem like a good idea. Unless of course you grew up watching classic Doctor Who, in which case it sounds like something that would be used by murder cyborgs from the planet Mondas.
But I guess Tesla had to call it something and Cybertruck will do. Just so long as they put some couches around any they display in Adelaide, so I’ll have something to hide behind.
Mind you, it may be some time before Tesla start displaying Cybertrucks here because they won’t become ready for Americans to buy until at least late 2022.
And So It Begins…
What? The presentation is starting now? But Elon has only kept us waiting 5 minutes, not 20! And in this context being only 5 minutes late counts as being on time. I can’t believe it! Tesla being on time has shaken the very foundations of my understanding of reality! I may have to check the sky isn’t made of fairy floss and concrete doesn’t taste like donuts.2
Elon, dressed like the Terminator, has completed a brief introduction and the Tesla Cybertruck is being driven onto the stage…
The Reveal Is… A Mars Rover?
A couple of people who were watching with me with thought the Cybertruck’s appearance was a put on and the real truck would be wheeled out in a minute. But I figured it was fair dinkum. My reasoning was simple. Elon is into space and, like at least one or two other billionaires3, he has some issues with his ego and would have forced everyone on the design team to agree that the mars rover aesthetic was the way to go.
I thought the Cybertruck looked cheap. The angular appearance looked suitable for low production costs. But to me, that’s a good thing. If you can keep the costs down while having a funky looking design, why not do it? (In retrospect, I probably should have explained to my second wife before she became my second ex-wife, that I use the word cheap as a compliment.)
I didn’t like the Cybertruck wheel wells as their aerodynamics didn’t look great, but I see vehicles with worse design choices made from the point of view of energy efficiency all the time, so it’s no biggie.
But Tesla did cheat by not putting side view mirrors on it. In Australia they aren’t optional extras. You need at least one.
There’s also no back window on the Cybertruck, but I presume there is a camera and screen that functions as a rear view mirror. Or there will be, as I can’t see one in the photo of the interior above.
Update 23rd November: The ute part of the vehicle is hidden behind sliding doors. So while you can’t see the tray in the pictures it’s definitely there. They drove an electric quad bike into the back of it.
Also, it will come with power points for tradies to run their tools or you could plug an electric fire into it when you go camping and there is a total fire ban.
The Cybertruck Body Is Strong
The body of the truck was unpainted and Elon explained it was stainless steel so strong it could stop a bullet. There was video of a 9mm bullet failing to penetrate that would have been fired from a handgun. This is impressive. If you think a normal car door can stop a bullet you’ve either been watching too many movies or not shooting enough cars.
Why it needs to be bullet-proof, I don’t know. Is this a South African thing? Did people shoot at Elon’s car when he used to bullseye womp rats in Beggars Canyon back home? Maybe, instead of building bullet-proof cars, he just needs to be better a making friends?
In a display of showmanship he probably felt certain couldn’t possibly go wrong in any way, Elon got a hefty guy to beat the door of a normal pick up truck with a rubber mallet and leave clear dents. Then he got him to beat the Cybertruck door and it didn’t leave a mark. I doubt there was any trickery. The door looked like it could take a hit.
Elon explained the strength of the car was in the metal of the body. Today’s cars are different as it’s in the frame and the exterior metal is a lightweight shell. We used to have cars with strong exteriors. After an accident you’d hose the driver out and the vehicle would still be okay. I presume the Cybertruck has some kind of crumple zones and we’re not going back to the murder cars of the 1950s.
The Cybertruck Windows Aren’t So Strong
Elon said the windows of the Cybertruck were incredibly tough. To demonstrate this balls of steel were dropped from various heights onto sheets of glass of a type we were told was used for the windows. The glass was completely unharmed.
Then Elon had the rubber mallet guy hurl a steel ball at the passenger window of the Cybertruck. I was worried because I thought the giant ball bearing would bounce off the window and potentially break his toes. But that didn’t happen. Instead the ute’s window broke. For a moment or two I felt as though there was something missing. Then I realized TV had trained me to expect a laugh track when things like this happen.
In a probably not very wise move, Elon then okayed the guy to throw the steel ball at another window, which also broke. It was pretty funny. Well, funny for us watching the farce. Obviously, it wasn’t so much fun for Elon.
A good public speaker might have been able to make the best of this unfortunate turn of events but Elon Musk is not a good public speaker. He painfully continued his presentation in a distracted state while standing in front of his smashed up truck. After we stopped laughing we felt sorry for him. Despite all his billions, not one of us would have wanted to be in his shoes. Except me. I’d do it for $2.50. It’s a free trip to California and — teleportation! How cool is that? The only problem is, his feet look a bit small.
Smashed Windows Aren’t Good But Don’t Mean Much
The smashed windows don’t look good for Tesla, but don’t mean much. Sure, it makes them look incompetent, but it’s no secret that the company doesn’t run like clockwork. This incident might cause people to adjust the incompetence dials on their Tesla-o-meters by a notch or two, but apart from that won’t have much effect. If the company goes down this won’t be the reason. It will just be the one we point and laugh at.
I have no idea why the ute’s windows broke. To me it looked like they weren’t designed to resist that sort of impact at all. The dude’s second throw was piss weak and the window broke anyway.
Maybe they were stand ins used while they were waiting for the ultra tough windows to be ready, and Tesla screwed up and put them in the vehicle. But, if they can’t keep Elon away from Twitter, we may get some crazed story about a Tesla short seller sabotaging the event.4
Three Cybertruck Price Points
There will be three versions of the Cybertruck, each more expensive than the last. In US dollars their promised prices are:
Below I’ve put the approximate Australian price at today’s exchange rate, including GST and Luxury Car Tax for the most expensive Cybertruck. I haven’t included any other costs. I’ll also give Tesla’s figures for range, towing capacity, and acceleration time from 0 to 100 km/h:
- AUD $64,500 Range: 400 km Tow: 3.4 tonnes 0-100 km/h: 6.4 seconds
- AUD $79,300 Range: 480 km Tow: 4.54 tonnes 0-100 km/h: 4.5 seconds
- AUD $121,300 Range: 800 km Tow: 6.36 tonnes 0-100 km/h: 2.6 seconds
For comparison, large American utes can often tow up to or around 6 tonnes. No information has been given on how towing affects range of the Tesla Cybertruck. Because of the nature of electric vehicles the decrease in range should be comparatively less than for petrol or diesel vehicles.
As we’ve seen in the past, Tesla doesn’t always come in on the price they promise, but hopefully they won’t be more expensive by the time they are supposed to become available in late 2022.
I don’t know how popular Cybertrucks will be once they can be purchased here, but who knows? Maybe Tesla will shatter all sales records.
- Also his wife is an Engineer at Caltex and her bosses are probably quite glad their vehicle only gets about 6 kilometers per litre. (Also, for no reason at all, I’ll mention there aren’t a large number of female engineers at Caltex, but she was able to break the glass ceiling.) ↩
- It has since been revealed to me that the countdown timer for the event actually jumped back a couple of minutes, so Tesla actually wasn’t on time. All is well with the universe. ↩
- Elon’s net worth is supposedly $35 billion Australian, but it might have taken a little dip today. ↩
- You may be interested to know that Stalin, former dictator of the Soviet Union, was also obsessed with both sabotage and colonizing mars. His favorite science fiction novel was about sabotage on mars. ↩