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The Cybertruck that is rolling off assembly lines very slowly and being delivered to patient customers who pre-ordered the vehicle four years ago is a much different car from the one they thought they were getting, and some customers have expressed their disappointment in online forums.The most important specs for an electric vehicle are range and price. On those fronts, grinning huckster/car impresario Elon Musk promised big things. When the Cybertruck was first announced in 2019, Musk said it would have up to 500 miles of range and start at $40,000, both of which were huge promised improvements over any available or forthcoming competitor. Instead, the Cybertruck base model has half that range—250 miles—and starts at $60,990, or $20,000 more than people expected. A 340-mile range version is available for $79,990, which is about 30 percent less range for almost twice the money than expected at preorder time. Customers will have the option to spend an extra $16,000 on a “range extender” that will take up about a third of the truck bed. Anyone willing to spend $100,000 can purchase the “Cyberbeast” trim with about 450 miles of range.
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These $100 preorders are fully refundable, and it sounds like a lot of customers are planning to exercise that option. The Cybertruck Reddit forum—where all posts have to be approved by the mods “to reduce the reposting and the shit posting”—has some very disappointed customers.To some extent, this always happens when preorders for electric vehicles start getting their exact delivery specs and prices. It is cheap, easy, and refundable to hold your spot in line. But this is the first time in Tesla’s time as a major car brand that the specs and price of a delivered vehicle are drastically different than what was stated during the initial preview event. The closest comparison is when Musk talked up the $35,000 Model 3, which only very technically existed for a brief period of time. But even then, we were talking about a difference of about $3,000.Still, the Cybertruck is delivering on some of Musk’s promised specs, or at least close enough to them. The 11,000 pounds towing capacity is about what was expected, as is the pedestrian-crushing 2.6 second 0-60 time on higher trims. To highlight these specs, Tesla staged a “race” between the Cybertruck and a Porsche 911 which it showed off during the launch event. But as automotive journalists noted, the race was a joke to anyone who knows anything about cars. Electric motors accelerate cars faster than ones with internal combustion engines, so this wasn’t a fair fight. Plus, the Cybertruck raced a base trim 911, which has a 0-60 time of about four seconds. According to Tesla, the base trim Cybertruck has a 0-60 time of 6.5 seconds. Every car Tesla has made has always been for someone. The Model S and Model X were for well-off people who wanted to be early adopters in the electric vehicle age, either due to the superior performance, environmental benefits, or convenience of at-home charging. The Model 3 brought those same attributes to a larger market by going for roughly half the price. The Model Y is a Model 3 on small stilts for those who prefer crossover design. But who is the Cybertruck—with all its extremely high-risk design elements that will likely make it a repair nightmare—for? Especially in an age where the car itself is such an ostentatious connection to the man who willed it to the world and is publicly embracing antisemitism, conspiracy theories, and racism? Who wants this much risk and baggage, both literally and figuratively, with such an expensive car? Musk says Tesla will be able to produce 250,000 of these a year by 2025. Even if he’s right—and given his history of outlandish claims, there’s no real reason to believe him—will he be able to find 250,000 people who want one?