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Tesla Cybertruck debuted by Elon Musk, to mixed reactions

Few people would deny that Elon Musk is a visionary. It's just that some visions should stay in your head. After three years of promising that Tesla will produce a truck that will take on the generic-looking offerings that Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler roll out year after year, Musk finally showed off the machine meant to take down the competition. Enter the Tesla Cybertruck, a pickup truck that looks like it drove right out of the future, as long as that future is one imagined for a 1980s sci-fi flick.

What is the Tesla Cybertruck?

The Cybertruck is Tesla's latest all-electric vehicle, which the company touts as having "better utility than a truck with more performance than a sportscar." The four-door vehicle will come in three different models: single motor rear-wheel drive, dual-motor all-wheel drive and tri-motor all-wheel drive. Each version of the truck provides an additional boost in performance, but every iteration of the Cybertruck will have the same Bladerunner-style design, complete with a super tough exterior (though, more on that later). Essentially, the Cybertruck is the Tesla response to trucks like the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and the Dodge Ram — the flagship pickup trucks from Big Three American automotive manufacturers. They also happen to be three of the most popular vehicles in America, though frankly most people who own them have no use for the towing capacity that they provide. A lot of people buy pickup trucks because they like how they look, not bothering to take into account fact that they are gas-guzzling, air-polluting machines that they absolutely do not need. If there's one thing that the Cybertruck truly has going for it, it's that while it might be just as unnecessary, it won't kill the planet.

What are the specs on this thing?

Just how impressive the Cybertruck is depends on the model. You're likely to see the top-end specs thrown around quite a bit when it comes to this vehicle, but just remember that those are only available on the most expensive version of the Cybertruck, the tri-motor option. That little caveat doesn't diminish how impressive the Cybertruck can be on the high-end, though.

The maxed-out version of the vehicle can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 2.9 seconds and has a range of more than 500 miles on a single charge. That blows away even the best performance from previous Teslas; the long-range Model S sedan has a maximum range of 370 miles on a charge. The tri-motor version of the Cybertruck also has a towing capacity of 14,000 pounds, which puts it firmly on the high-end of the spectrum when compared to other pickup trucks. The Ford F-150 with the Max Trailer Tow package maxes out at 13,200 pounds, the Ram 1500 tops at 12,750 pounds and the Silverado 1500 is capped at 12,200 pounds.

The other version of the Cybertruck doesn't make quite the same impression. The dual-motor model goes from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and has a range that maxes out at around 300 miles per charge. It also sees its towing capacity drop to about 10,000 pounds. The most basic version of the Cybertruck, the single-motor rear-wheel drive option, gets from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds and can go about 250 miles on a charge. Its towing capacity drops to 7,500 pounds, which puts it closer in line to offerings from compact pickup trucks like the Ford Ranger or Chevy Colorado rather than the machines made for major towing.

It's worth noting that we don't know exactly how much the range of these vehicles will be affected when at full towing capacity. A big part of what draws people to trucks is their performance in different conditions, and until the Tesla Cybertruck actually gets on the road with a trailer or payload, it's next to impossible to say just how well these promised performance figures will hold up.

What is it made of?

One thing that Musk made sure to make a big deal out of with the Cybertruck is that it is truly tough. The idea is that all of these other companies market their trucks to tough guys, the vehicles are made to seem so masculine — but it's the Cybertruck that is the real tough one of the bunch. That's why this thing's body is made of stainless steel — apparently made from the same cold-rolled steel alloy that is used for SpaceX's Starhopper rocket. To show just how strong the so-called exo-skeleton of the truck is, Tesla's chief designer Franz von Holzhausen took a couple swings of a hammer to the Cybertruck to show that it couldn't be dented. (There are some truthers out there who believe von Holzhausen pulled up short on his swings intentionally to make sure that he didn't damage the vehicle, but taking even a couple light hits from a sledgehammer is still pretty impressive.)

Then there are the windows. According to Musk, the windows on the Cybertruck are made of Tesla armor glass. But when Franz von Holzhausen tossed a weighted ball at the driver-side window to prove just how strong it is, the window immediately shattered. Musk encouraged him to try it again with the passenger window, which also broke upon being hit. Musk joked that they would "fix it in post," but for now the Cybertruck appears to be just as fake tough as the trucks that Musk is taking aim at.

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Why does it look like that?

The Tesla Cybertruck definitely has a design that you can't ignore. It's not clear if that is a good thing or a bad thing, exactly. Musk explained on stage that "Trucks have been the same for a very long time, like 100 years," and that "we need something different." It's certainly different, no one would deny that.

To be fair, we probably should have seen this coming. Musk telegraphed that this thing was going to be weird when to talked about it with Recode last year:

I’m personally super-excited by this pickup truck. It’s something I’ve been wanting to make for a long time. And I’ve been iterating sort of designs with Franz ... It’s like I really wanted something that’s like super-futuristic cyberpunk. Which, if it doesn’t ... if I’m weirdly like ... if there’s only a small number of people that like that truck, I guess we’ll make a more conventional truck in the future. But it’s the thing that I am personally most fired up about. It’s gonna have a lot of titanium.

The real answer as to why the Cybertruck looks the way it does: Musk has a lot of money and not a lot of people who tell him no. So this is what we get.

What do people think of the design?

Feelings about the Cybertruck are mixed at best. Tesla fanatics are all in on the vehicle, because of course they are. But the cyberpunk design definitely has a fair share of detractors, including a Ford spokesperson who tweeted out a pretty dismissive GIF in response to the reveal. Most of social media had a field day with the Cybertruck, and it produced some top-notch tweets:

How much will it cost and when is it available?

The most basic version of the Tesla Cybertruck will start at $39,900. You can upgrade to the dual-motor set up for $49,900 or the tri-motor option for $59,900. You can already put down a deposit of as little as $100 to reserve your Tesla Cybertruck, but production isn't expected to actually start on the vehicle until late 2021.