The glass may not be as shatterproof as promised, but Elon Musk’s weirdly-styled electric bakkie is gaining plenty of interest from aspirant buyers. Picture: REUTERS
The glass may not be as shatterproof as promised, but Elon Musk’s weirdly-styled electric bakkie is gaining plenty of interest from aspirant buyers. Picture: REUTERS

It may have been the subject of merciless derision from many quarters, but Elon Musk’s controversial Tesla Cybertruck has already reportedly received more than 187,000 orders.

Unveiled in Los Angeles last Thursday, the first bakkie from the electric vehicle manufacturer elicited gasps of shock and viral social media response to its angular, fold-along-the-dotted-lines styling and unpainted metal, which makes it look like a prop from a post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie.

The launch itself was something of an embarrassment for SA-born Musk when a demonstration of its strengthened glass windows went awry. Ever the showman, Musk asked his head of design, Franz von Holzhausen, to throw a steel ball at the “armoured” side windows at the launch which was live streamed to the world — only for them to crack.

It left the billionaire flustered and uttering expletives, although he did quickly point out that the ball at least didn’t go through the windows.

More successful was a demonstration of the bakkie’s hardened stainless steel body, which remained amazingly undented after being hit with a sledgehammer. The Cybertruck is made of the same same Ultra-Hard 30X Cold-Rolled stainless-steel structural skin Musk plans to use for his SpaceX rocket.

But it was the styling that had the Twitterverse buzzing, with many poking fun at the outlandishly wedgy design which Musk said was inspired by the “cyberpunk” science fiction genre, including the classic 1982 film Blade Runner.

The Cybertruck promises 1.5 tons of load capacity and has a built-in pull-out ramp. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Cybertruck promises 1.5 tons of load capacity and has a built-in pull-out ramp. Picture: SUPPLIED

Musk, who was dressed like a Terminator at the launch, said the top three selling vehicles in America are pickup trucks, and it’s a segment Tesla needed to be in if sustainable energy were to be addressed.

He defended the oddball styling saying that for 100 years, pickup trucks have been basically the same and it’s hard to tell which is which with the logos off. Tesla wanted to do something different.

That it certainly achieved, and the bizarre bakkie seems able to withstand criticism as readily as a sledgehammer blow. The Cybertruck has gained some mass appeal with Musk tweeting on Sunday that 187,000 people had already placed $100 deposits on Tesla’s website.

The site advertises the Cybertruck as having “better utility than a truck with more performance than a sports car” and it certainly boasts some impressive claimed numbers.

The battery-powered bakkie will be available in three versions: a single motor rear wheel drive, dual motor all-wheel drive, and tri motor all-wheel drive. The entry level  will have a starting price of $39,900 (R587,279) and a 400km range, while the range-topping all-wheel drive derivative will be able to travel double that distance, scorch from 0-100km/h in around three seconds, and will sell for about $69,900 (R1,028,842).

All three derivatives will feature Tesla’s Autopilot semi-autonomous driving system, a towering 400mm of ground clearance, and adaptive air suspension that can raise and lower by 109mm for easy access.

It can seat up to six adults and with up to 1.5 tons of lockable payload capacity the Cybertruck also boasts a “magic” tonneau cover that’s strong enough to stand on.

The basic version has a 3.4-ton towing capacity while the range-topping tri-motor can tow 6.3-tons.

Tesla plans to start manufacturing the bakkie around late 2021.