Now that the Tesla Cybertruck has finally been unleashed on the world, all kinds of stories, features, and easter eggs have been hitting the internet—including details from key Tesla figures behind the design of the truck.
In a recent interview with Top Gear, Tesla’s chief designer, Franz Von Holzhausen, and VP of engineering, Lars Moravy, revealed one interesting tidbit of information that shows just how rapidly Tesla build the Cybertruck, despite taking four years to actually launch it after the concept was revealed. The kicker? Elon Musk ordered that the team build the first prototype in just 90 days.
“Elon wanted the first prototype in 90 days,” said Moravy. “And I think he did that to drive decisions. When you have 90 days to build a prototype there’s no time to argue. You just got to pick the best thing and go.”
Morvay then turned his attention to the original alpha build of the Cybertruck: “[I]t took us, I think, 93 days.”
Originally, Musk ordered the prototype to be completed within a more reasonable 180 days after greenlighting the actual triangle-like design presented to him by Franz and his team. But according to Morvay’s recollection, Musk ultimately halved the deadline during the same conversation to just 90 days.
It took some time to get to that point, though. Franz recalls that actually deciding on the design was a contention point during the early development phase.
“A conversation had started several years back about ‘Eventually, Tesla needs to do a pickup truck,’” said Franz. “We started looking at unpacking the pickup trucks in the market. Without the badging, they’re all really similar.”
Franz mentions that during the early days of the Cybertruck planning, the team had Elon Musk’s Lotus Esprit in the studio. In case you didn’t know, Musk bought the Espirit-turned-submarine prop from the 1977 James Bond flick, The Spy Who Loved Me, for nearly $1 million back in 2013, and had dreams of turning it into an actual submarine. The design team also drew inspiration from the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk and the Lamborghini Countach.
“We started going down a couple of venues that were unique but not really dramatic enough. And working with Elon on this, I’m going in circles for a long time. Somewhat secretly, we started doing something just radically different. A really simplistic, kind of a low-resolution looking type truck,” Franz recalled. He later continued: “One day, [we] made a full-size model and had Elon walk into it, and seeing it for the first time […] he’s like, ‘That’s what we’re doing.'”
So once approved and with a fresh 90-day deadline, Moravy and his team got to work to design the first alpha build of the Cybertruck, though it might not have been out of stainless steel like the production vehicle. Moravy said that Tesla developed several prototypes using aluminum, but Musk ultimately fell in love with “HFS”—”Hard Freaking Stainless,” which is the internal nickname for Tesla’s proprietary amalgam—due to its ability to resist dents and scratches.
Tesla later revealed the polarizing concept version of the Cybertruck in November 2019. It’s not clear how long before this Franz, Morvay, and the rest of Tesla began initial work on the truck, however, Musk promised in December 2017 that Tesla would build a pickup after the Model Y reached production since he was “dying to build it” using the ideas he’d been thinking up for five years.
Now, four years after Tesla’s concept hit the stage, the first units have been delivered to customers and the design is still as wild as it appeared the first time the world set eyes on it.