Tesla Cybertruck deliveries begin
On November 30, 2023, customer deliveries of the controversial Tesla Cybertruck began in the USA. Australia is not in the short-term delivery program.
With a claimed two million customer reservations in hand, Tesla is in no hurry to develop a right hand drive version of its radically-designed pick-up. Very few North American 4WD pick ups are built ex-factory in RHD, so most Australian-market Yank utes are converted here.
That said, the Cybertruck would be an easier RHD build than other US-market pick ups, because of its ‘steer by wire’ design. Two electric motors power its steering rack, eliminating a steering column and a third electric motor operates the rear-wheel steering system.
Tesla’s battery-electric-vehicle (BEV) products have made it the biggest selling electric car brand on the planet, although that status is likely to be eclipsed by Chinese maker, BYD, in 2024.
However, since 2019, Tesla has been accepting advanced reservations from prospective Australian buyers, despite many incorrect reports that this scheme ended in 2022 and deposits were refunded.
We think the delay in the RHD program is a simple matter of likely sales volume. Of the RHD markets around the world the most likely takers of a RHD Cybertruck are Southern Africa, South East Asia and Australasia.
Cashed up India should be a target, but OTA understands that there is currently no official Tesla presence in the Subcontinent and the first Tesla product scheduled for India is the forthcoming ‘cheap’ Tesla sedan that’s designed to compete with BYD.
The UK buys heaps of Tesla RHD cars, but the UK isn’t seen as an expensive ute market. Another complication is that, like Europe, the UK rates anything with more than 3.5 tonnes gross mass as a truck, requiring a truck licence. To sell in the UK below that GVM rating would mean a much smaller payload rating for the Cybertruck.
Also, the Tesla Cybertruck is expensive, with retail prices at launch upwards of US$79,900 for the simpler two-motor version. The three-motor CyberBeast version starts at US$99,990.
A useful formula for calculating the likely Australian RRP of US-built RHD vehicles is to almost double the US RRP figure. An example is Jeep’s Gladiator, which sells in the USA for US$40,000-US$48,000 and, in Australia, has RRPs in the A$78,000-A$87,000.
If that rule of thumb is applied to 2023 US Cybertruck pricing, Australian RRPs would be in the A$150,000-A$190,000 bracket!
What we know
Prototypes have been around since 2019 and what’s obvious is that the production vehicle is around five-percent smaller overall than the hand-built early models. The need for the vehicle to fit inside a standard US house garage dictated a reduction in bulk.
The Cybertruck is a ‘2500 series’ size in the US, which means it has a nominal payload of 2500 pounds (1135kg). Claimed towing capacity was originally 14,000 pounds, but production machines are rated for 11,000 pounds (5000kg). The four-motor version won’t be available until the late 2020s, but may come with an increased towing rating.
Unlike other US pick-ups, the Cybertruck is designed as a monocoque structure, not body-on-frame.The exterior is formed from 3mm-thick, 30x-series, cold-rolled stainless steel that cannot be stamped like conventional automobile parts, but is laser-cut and then bent along straight lines.
It’s the same stainless steel alloy that SpaceX uses on the Starship rocket.
The powertrain is all-wheel drive, with two, three (one front and two rear motors) or four motors (individual wheel drive). The dual-motor Cybertruck weighs 6670 pounds (3025kg) with the tri-motor variant coming in at 6890 pounds (3125kg).
Operating range is said to be 500+km, but can be increased to 700km, with the use of a ‘range extender’. That is Tesla-speak for an additional battery pack in the cargo tray.
Another item you’d need to stow in the tray is a spare wheel, because there’s no dedicated slot for it.
People who’ve never driven a Tesla sedan may imagine that the Cybertruck’s performance won’t compare with top-shelf US V8 utes, but they’d be wrong. We’ve driven several Teslas and believe us: performance won’t be an issue.
Tesla claims a 0-100km/h time of under four seconds for the two-motor model and under three seconds for the three-motor variant.
The USA is addicted to 12-volt auto electrics – even its heavy trucks use 12-volt, whereas the rest of the world’s trucks have used 24-volt since the 1950s – but the Cybertruck has a 48-volt system that greatly reduces the amount of on-board wiring and should improve reliability.
The Cybertruck has an adaptive air suspension system, with on-road and off-road modes. Ground clearance under the dead-flat floor can be varied from 300mm up to 420mm.
Electric motor torque at lift-off means there’s no need for low-range gearing.
We’ll keep abreast of Tesla’s Cybertruck developments and advise you if we hear of the RHD model. However, we don’t expect to see anything before 2026 at the earliest.