The Tesla Cybertruck is coming: How to watch and what to expect

Chris Davies - Nov 21, 2019, 6:30 pm CST
The Tesla Cybertruck is coming: How to watch and what to expect

The Tesla Cybertruck is coming, and Elon Musk’s next big electric vehicle has plenty riding on it. The California automaker plans to live-stream its launch of the new EV pickup tonight, and all eyes will be on the outspoken chief executive as he details just how Tesla will expand into what could well be its most challenging segment yet.

Tesla Cybertruck livestream

Tesla’s big Cybertruck event kicks off at 8pm PT – or 11pm ET – on Thursday, November 21. It’ll be live-streamed from the company’s own site, and via its YouTube channel.

If past events are anything to go by, that 8pm start may get pushed back a little. Once underway, we’re likely to see a run-through of the latest news in Tesla land before the Cybertruck makes its debut. That’ll probably include an update on sales of the Model 3 and the recent software update that Tesla released, plus a look ahead to production of the Model Y crossover. Deliveries of that are expected to begin in 2020.

The meat of the event will be the Cybertruck, however. As well as confirming the pickup’s design, there should be some key facts about power, drivetrain, and of course range and price.

What to expect from the Tesla Cybertruck

The stakes are high for the Tesla Cybertruck. Pickups are big business, particularly in the US, and while that could mean rich pickings for Elon Musk’s next EV, it also means it’ll be held to a high standard. While the rest of the auto industry has been slow to convert pickups to electrification, truck buyers can be conservative and persuading them to take a risk on an EV may be more of a challenge than Tesla faced with the Model S, Model X, and Model 3.

Musk’s first strategy there is to make it very clear that the Cybertruck is something absolutely different. Details of the pickup’s design have been shrouded in secrecy, but the Tesla CEO hasn’t been coy about promising a futuristic vehicle very different from everything else on the road.

Think Blade Runner or other science-fiction movies, and a departure from the smoothly handsome aesthetic of Tesla’s existing range. Musk has warned that it may very well be a matter of love or hate, with little room in-between, in fact. Famous James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me – known for its underwater Lotus, the prop of which Musk actually owns – has also been a design inspiration, the CEO teased today.

Styling is subjective, but cold, hard numbers can’t be avoided. Range is always a key one for electric vehicles, and Tesla has previously suggested that the Cybertruck will do somewhere between 400 and 500 miles on a charge. That may well vary depending on configuration.

What we’re expecting to see is a dual motor system, for electric all-wheel drive. Figure on self-leveling suspension, too, to automatically adjust the Cybertruck depending on whether it’s loaded down with cargo, filled up with people, towing something, or some combination of all three. Of course, there’ll be Supercharger network support, and the usual high-tech features in the cabin.

Electrification makes a lot of sense for work trucks

With models like the Ford F-150 long the best-selling vehicle in the US, it’s easy to assume that internal combustion trucks already have the market sewn up. Still, there are some very good reasons why drivers might want an electric pickup.

First of those is torque. While sky-high horsepower has been associated with EVs, particularly from Tesla, so far, in the work vehicle world it’s the torque that arguably matters most. Pulling big loads, carrying a full bed full of cargo, and generally dealing with unpaved, muddy or sandy conditions all count on getting as much power at low-speeds down to the ground.

Electric vehicles have an advantage there, since their full torque arrives from the get-go. When they’re standing still, too, an electric architecture can pay dividends. No need for a separate worksite generator, for example: with an outlet in the bed you could potentially run tools directly from the sizable batteries in your Cybertruck.

Tesla isn’t alone in seeing that value. Ford has already confirmed that there’s not only a hybrid F-150 but a fully-electric F-150 in the pipeline. GM is working on one, too. Then there are handsomely-backed startups like Rivian, which are working on their own EV utility vehicles. Depending on when Tesla can begin Cybertruck production, it may have a limited window before some rivals from well-established names arrive to build out the segment.

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