On Thursday, Tesla unveiled their new (and unusual) pickup truck that looks a lot like how movies in the 1980s assumed cars would look like today. The Cybertruck is the sixth vehicle Tesla has unveiled since opening its doors in 2003; but this is the first of their vehicles intended for rugged off-road and utilitarian use.
Like all Teslas, this new vehicle will likely come packed with a variety of practical and novelty based doodads, but aside from the unusual body and electric motor, there wasn’t a lot for me to get excited about… that is, until Elon Musk announced that it was also bulletproof!
Despite what the “Lethal Weapon” movies would have you believe, your average car is not a very safe place to hide from a bullet with your name on it. Not long ago, I spent some time with the guys at Racing for Heroes at Virginia International Raceway, where retired Green Beret CW3 Mike Evock showed me around some of the vehicles they’ve used for different shooting exercises.
Despite already being aware that your average car doesn’t make for very good ballistic protection, the concept really hits home when you start walking around a Crown Victoria riddled with holes from varying caliber weapons. As Mike showed me, there are certainly some parts of the car that will offer greater protection, and leveraging a working knowledge of that can help you survive a bad situation in some circumstances — but by and large, a car just isn’t a great place to hide in a firefight. According to Elon Musk, however, his new truck is (though I wouldn’t count on the windows).
The demonstration didn’t go particularly well, as despite Musk’s claims that even the windows could withstand a ridiculous amount of abuse… they promptly cracked live on stage when Tesla’s chief designer threw a metal ball at them. Musk, seemingly embarrassed, asked him to try again on a different window — and it cracked too.
“We threw wrenches, we threw everything even literally the kitchen sink at the glass and it didn’t break. For some weird reason, it broke now,” Musk said to the sound of laughter. “I don’t know why. We will fix it in post.”
As for the rest of the body — there is a chance that it might be as tough as Musk claims. Much of the vehicle is made up of the same stainless steel used in the spaceship construction of one of Musk’s other ventures, SpaceX. As he (successfully) demonstrated on stage, this stuff is tough — tough enough to withstand a few wacks from a sledgehammer without looking any worse for wear.
The truck will come in three range-trims: 250 miles, 300 miles and a sizeable 500 miles per charge. These variants will come at pretty reasonable prices too, ranging from $39,900 to $69,900 — not all that far off from current pickup truck prices. Thanks to its electric motors, torque shouldn’t be an issue — but towing anything would likely come at a significant cost in terms of battery life.
I recently had the chance to cruise around LA in a Tesla Model 3 for a few days, and I’ll admit, I found the charging requirements inconvenient but not a show stopper. With Tesla supercharging stations becoming plentiful in the LA area, it’s pretty easy to keep yourself juiced up and moving, but I still have trouble imagining Tesla’s Cybertruck finding a home in the rural communities thart are fond of existing pickup trucks already on the market.
Without nearby supercharging stations, farmers, construction workers and anyone that gets their hands dirty for a living would have to keep their ol’ truck plugged in all night every night just to support the sometimes long commutes to and from job sites.
So is the new Tesla bullet proof? Eh, maybe. But I probably wouldn’t test this assertion with my life. Is it functional? Eh, again, maybe. This truck will probably be great fro drawing attention and bringing home a new IKEA chair for folks living in SoCal, but I think it’ll still be a while before you see one of these with a deer strapped to the hood.