Tesla’s long-promised electric pickup truck officially debuts on November 21 — but patent filings suggest its name has been under our nose all along. Tesla trademarked the Cybertruck and CYBRTRK nameplates, a strong hint that the truck will wear some variation of this term when Elon Musk reveals it to the world on November 21.
Musk has wanted to build a truck for years; in 2013 he noted that the F-150 is “the best selling car in America. If people are voting that’s their car, then that’s the car we have to deliver.” He also said it would take years to get there. More than half a decade later, here we are. Details still remain shrouded in mystery, but we’ve learned a lot about the model from a year of tweets, rumors, and industry whisperings. Here’s what we know.
Posting on his official Twitter account, company co-founder and CEO Elon Musk called the November 21 unveiling date “strangely familiar,” linking it to Blade Runner’s opening scene, which takes place in November 2019. The link is fitting, seeing that many are comparing the first glimpses of the Cybertruck to a vehicle that would be in the Blade Runner world.
The date is strangely familiar …https://t.co/YZl5R1POJL
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 6, 2019
They’re one step ahead of everyone else. All we’ve seen of the truck so far is a dark, cryptic image (shown below) which reveals a full-width light bar and a horizontal Tesla emblem. We’re assuming it shows the back end of the truck, likely with a tonneau cover over the cargo box, but Musk remained tight-lipped about the sketch.
In the past, he has hinted at a “really futuristic-like cyberpunk, Blade Runner pickup truck” with seating for up to six passengers, and between 400 and 500 miles of maximum driving range. Its jumbo dimensions will likely allow it to swallow Tesla’s biggest battery pack to date, one bigger than the 100-kilowatt-hour unit offered in the Model S and the Model X. Musk first mentioned the truck officially in April of 2017, when he revealed plans for a Tesla Semi — and casually revealed that a pickup would eventually follow.
Tesla previously confirmed a set of early, basic specifications. The truck will be roughly the same size as hot-selling pickups like the Ford F-150, the Ram 1500, and the Chevrolet Silverado. It will come standard with dual-motor all-wheel drive, a crazy amount of torque, and a self-leveling suspension. It will also be able to park itself in the right conditions and boast 360-degree cameras. Finally, it will have a 240-volt outlet to run power tools miles away from the power grid.
As for the rest, it sounds like nothing is off the table. When Musk asked for feedback in 2018, Twitter users collectively experienced a spurt of creativity. Some asked for individual torque control on each wheel, a system that would help off-road capacity. Others, likely speaking from experience, pointed out it needs physical buttons because touchscreens are difficult to use with work gloves on. One user even requested amphibious capability. How about an onboard dashcam that captures off-the-grid adventures? Time will tell which of these suggestions will make it to the final design.
The Cybertruck — assuming that’s what it’s called — will be Tesla’s first entry into the pickup truck segment. That’s significant, because the best-selling vehicle in America is the Ford F-150. It’s too early to tell when it will reach the market, but Tesla has its work cut out for the coming years. The company is still trying to launch the Semi it unveiled in 2017, it’s gearing up to produce a more spacious alternative to the Model 3 named Model Y, and its next-generation Roadster has a lot to live up to. It also needs to ensure the Model S and the Model X remain fresh, because both models are aging.
With that in mind, we don’t expect to see the Cybertruck until 2021 at the earliest. When it lands, it will need to fend off competition from the Rivian R1T — which beat Tesla to the punch — and the upcoming battery-powered variant of the Ford F-150. General Motors is allegedly planning to develop an electric pickup for one of its brands, while start-up Bollinger Motors unveiled its entry into the segment, the rugged-looking B2, earlier in 2019.
Updated on November 15, 2019: Added the latest information on the Tesla Cybertruck.