Do not adjust your eyes. This is not something from Mad Max or any other science fiction movie.
This is the Tesla Cybertruck and it’s fair to say no-one expected it to look like this.
Tesla claims it will be the toughest pick-up truck in the world, with a stainless steel body that can handle a 9mm bullet or a hit from a sledge hammer, and comes with super-strength glass.
Tesla boldly showed a video of the the Cybertruck winning a tug-of-war contest with the Ford F-150 – then outpacing a Porsche 911 on a drag strip – and dismissed the credentials of America’s top three selling pick-ups and said their designs “all look the same”.
However, Tesla founder Elon Musk was left red faced when a stunt went wrong not once but twice in front of the live global audience.
After having successfully demonstrated the Cybertruck’s stainless steel doors can handle a big swing with a sledgehammer, he invited a helper to throw a metal ball – a bit bigger than a golf ball – at the window.
A separate piece of glass had earlier withstood a hit from a height of more than two metres on a horizontal demonstration panel.
But when Musk invited the helper to throw the same ball at the front door window of the Cybertruck, the glass shattered. He then suggested to try the same demonstration on the rear door glass, and it shattered too.
“Oh my f- - -ing god,” Musk said under his breath, before shrugging and saying to the helper “maybe you tried too hard”. Musk then added: “Oh, well, at least it didn’t go through”.
Musk later said: “Oh well, a little room for improvement … it’s a little weird it broke now. (In testing) we threw everything at it, including a kitchen sink”.
As millions of fans around the world tuned in to watch the California unveiling live online, many were expecting the triangular-shaped show car to be a facade. Perhaps the real pick-up was underneath it, or behind a curtain.
Even as the Tesla Cybertruck rolled onto the stage, fans were initially not sure whether to applaud or laugh.
But when the founder of the electric-car start up walked on stage they realised this was not a normal car unveiling.
Appearing at times nervous, Musk began rolling through the Tesla Cybertruck’s features as he stood awkwardly in front of the two pieces of shattered glass.
While many in the audience were still wondering if this was indeed a production car or a flight of fancy, the prices appeared on screen and Musk declared orders were open for US customers.
In the US, the Tesla Cybertruck will start from $US39,900 ($59,000) for a single motor, rear-drive model which has 250 miles of range (400km), can carry 1500kg in the tray, and tow 3400kg.
The next step up in the Tesla Cybertruck range starts from $US49,900 ($73,500) for a dual motor all-wheel drive model which has 300 miles of range (482km), can carry 1500kg in the tray, and tow 4500kg.
The top of the line Tesla Cybertruck costs from US$69,900 ($103,000) for a tri-motor all-wheel drive model which has 500 miles of range (800km), can carry 1500kg, and tow 6300kg.
The 0 to 60mph (96km/h) performance of this model is claimed to be just 2.9 seconds, quicker than a standard Porsche 911.
All versions of the Tesla Cybertruck will come with adaptive air suspension so the vehicle has a low ride at freeway speeds to better slip through the air, and class-leading ground clearance when heading off-road.
The tailgate, ingeniously, had a slide-out tray that doubles as a ramp to load quad bikes or motor bikes. The rear suspension also dropped automatically as the tailgate opened.
For off-road fans, the approach angle was claimed to be 35 degrees, departure 28 degrees.
Inside, there's seating for six adults. The dash has a massive 17-inch touchscreen.
Musk said the Tesla Cybertruck would make financial sense because, in the US, owners would end up paying less for electricity than they would for gasoline.
“We need something different,” said Musk. “We need sustainable energy now,” adding that America needs an electric pick-up if the country wants to address environmental issues.
Industry analysts are not sure what to make of the Tesla Cybertruck. Before it was unveiled they forecast it might only take a 2.5 per cent slice of the giant US pick-up market – or 75,000 sales of the 3 million in North America annually.
For now, Tesla has not made any comment about the chances of the Cybertruck coming to Australia, or even if the model will be made in right-hand-drive.
However, Australia has been an export market for every model in the Tesla line-up so far.
Meanwhile, the closest Australian customers may get to an electrified pick-up will be hybrid versions of the next-generation Mitsubishi Triton and Nissan Navara. Toyota has also indicated its top-selling HiLux ute will eventually adopt hybrid tech.