Tesla has started production of its headline-grabbing Cybertruck - the angular all-electric pick-up. It now looks like first customer deliveries will be made to US customers this autumn, following an extensive gestation period.
Unveiled in 2019, Tesla initially said it would go into production in 2021 - though it has failed to make the planned production dates for the Model S, Model X, Model 3, and Model Y too. The big question is when - or if - the Cybertruck will make it to UK shores. But first, the stats, to see whether you’d want one.
Three different powertrains are on offer from Tesla:
- a single-motor rear-wheel drive version;
- a mid-range dual motor model;
- and a trim-motor performance specification.
Driving ranges vary from 250 miles for the entry-level model to 500 miles for the top-spec Cybertruck. The latter will also complete the 0-60mph sprint in less than three seconds, and can tow more than 6,000kg; even the single-motor model can tow more than 3,000kg, and has a 1,360kg payload rating. The load-bed is more than six-feet long, and there is more than 2,800 litres of storage space in total, plus the possibility to seat six inside. So it’s a practical workhorse at least.
Tesla has also supposedly put the charging system from its Semi lorry, which allows up to 1MW charging power - currently the most powerful charging system available on cars is less than 300kW. Plugged into the right charger then, and the Cybertruck will boost most of its capacity in a handful of minutes.
When can we expect the Cybertruck?
Tesla has no set timeframe for the UK to get deliveries of the Cybertruck. It hasn’t ruled it out, but then Tesla has rolled back on commitments to this market with the Model S and Model X available for UK buyers, but only in left-hand drive. It’s focusing on the Model 3 and Model Y best-sellers instead. And the Cybertruck shares much with the Model S and Model X in terms of powertrain, so we can expect a left-hand drive only version… if at all. The main reason for this scepticism is because Europe is a very different market compared with the US.
For starters, the Cybertruck is long. Perhaps not in America, where it matches the length of a Ford F-150 Lightning - one of the best-selling vehicles in the US. But here, it’s the best part of half a metre longer than a Ford Ranger pick-up. It’s also about 20cm wider, and about 1 metre taller. So the Cybertruck is an extremely big vehicle.
On top of that, there are safety regulations that present a considerable speed-bump in getting the Cybertruck on sale in Europe.
Because it’s classified as a light truck in the US, it is exempt from certain safety rules - specifically surrounding pedestrian safety. In Europe, there aren’t the same exemptions, and it would need to meet light commercial vehicle regulations, which are stricter. German safety experts TUV have estimated that Tesla would have to implement “strong modifications to the basic structure” before it could be sold this side of the Atlantic. It’s unlikely that Europe would represent a large enough market for Tesla to alter a vehicle that has already gone into production… possible, but unlikely.
What other electric pick-ups are available?
Currently, there is a limited choice of pure-electric pick-up trucks available for customers. In fact it’s a list of one - the Maxus T90 EV. The electric version uses a 130kW electric motor and 89kWh battery for a range of 198 miles.
It comes from LCV specialist Maxus, rather than a car producer, and Maxus has been growing rapidly in the UK based on the strength of its electric van sales. Charging times for the T90 EV are as low as 45 minutes, and it’s keenly priced. It comes as rear-wheel drive only, so will score down for some customers compared to the almost standard four-wheel drive found on other pick-ups. But it benefits from actually being available and all-electric. Planned launches in the UK include the Rivian R1T - another American electric-only specialist - which stands a greater chance of making it to sale in Europe and the UK than the Tesla. Partly because it’s been in production in the US longer than the Cybertruck, but also because Rivian produces two vehicles currently, and the other is an SUV version of the pick-up, so it follows car safety regulations.
A variety of models are available, with the up to 400 miles available from the top-spec version. A performance model features quad electric motors, producing 750hp, and allowing for a towing capacity of almost five tonnes.
Ford’s F-150 Lightening is selling well in the US, and also poses fewer regulatory challenges for sale in Europe. It’s still a large pick-up for the UK market and isn’t being officially brought over, but some are making an appearance - albeit in left-hand drive only.
What is “confirmed” is the Bollinger B2, another US-based electric-only pick-up, but with customer deposits already being taken. Inspired by function over form, and probably the Land Rover Defender in all likelihood, the B2 is a dual-motor EV that can cover more than 200 miles on a charge, and is also available as a chassis-cab for conversions/customised equipment. Despite confirmed UK plans, prices are likely to be around £100,000, and there are no timelines announced for arrivals at the time of writing.
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