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The automotive world has awaited the arrival of the Tesla Cybertruck for five years. We have all seen countless slick images, incredible promises, and market-smashing specs, which has only deepened our desire for what Tesla promised to be the next stage in pickup trucks. However, as we now know, the Tesla Cybertruck has been one confusing disappoint after another. Delays and confusing information are the story of Cybertruck. But now that there have been some sightings of the elusive electric truck around California, it’s hard to overstate how awful the prototype Tesla Cybertruck looks in real life. 

Is the Tesla Cybertruck out yet? 

Tesla Cybertruck aggressively off-roading in the desert, clouds of sand flying off its tires.
2024 Tesla Cybertruck off road | Tesla

Although there have been years of confusing information circling about the release date of the Cybertruck, Elon Musk has promised buyers that Nov. 30th is the day the world will get Tesla’s truck. As we get closer to the Cyertruck release date, sightings of the enigmatic truck are increasing. This is Tesla’s “PR department” hard at work, no doubt. 

Tesla Cybertruck prototype in the real world

This past weekend, Tesla chief designer Franz von Holzhausen was spotted driving around Southern California in a Cybertruck with a new version of the truck in a matte-black finish. Aside from the novel “paint” scheme, onlookers were drawn to the extreme new truck, like moths to a flame, except that flame was a rough-cut black wedge on wheels that looked utterly preposterous in the harsh light of Malibu. 

Inside EVs posted photos after seeing the unique matte-black Cybertruck in the Malibu hills at a Cars and Coffee event. Look, prototypes deserve a little leeway and maybe even grace at times. By definition, a prototype is a work in progress. However, this doom-black Cybertruck needs more than grace to be palatable. This harshness isn’t just because it’s ugly, which is truly difficult to overstate if you look at the back end. No, the real issue is that this is a very rough-looking prototype from a construction and fitment perspective that is preceding the production release by less than a month. Is this another Tesla PR stunt? Are we being trolled? 

I’m sorry, but before we get into the real issues, can we take a second look at the rear view of the Tesla Cybertruck? Its monolithic tailgate has to be the worst-looking rear end of any car ever made. It isn’t just ugly; it lacks any style or contoure to speak of. It is a wall. A heartless, soulless, meaningless wall. If you look at it long enough, it becomes borderline offensive in its lack of everything that makes something appealing to look at.

What’s wrong with the black Cybertruck prototype? 

This matte black Tesla Cybertruck is confusing because it just doesn’t seem finished – like, at all. There are body panel fitment issues galore. Making matters worse, this doesn’t appear to be an early prototype either. Based on certain features like lights, window glass, cameras, fender liners, and underbody trims, these all seem to match “release candidate” specs. 

It’s not uncommon for late-stage prototypes to be indistinguishable from early production models. At this stage, we figure the chief designer might drive a polished prototype to an event like this to drum up some excitement, which I guess it did. However, bringing one with this many gaps, misaligned panels, and a vinyl wrap (yep, it’s not paint; it’s just a wrap) is downright bizarre. 

Tesla has mentioned that factory wrap options will be available for the Model 3 and Model Y, but nothing about the Cybertruck. Maybe this is the launch of that? Honestly, who knows? No matter what the deal is with the wrap, it looks like a budget job. The boots-on-the-ground-viewer claims to have seen “bubbles” and “pieces of vinyl visibly lifting and peeling off.” 

Even more problematic than the poor-quality wrap are the massive body panel gaps. Reports say that some gaps were big enough to slip a finger into. Pick an area of the bodywork, and you’ll find gaps. The Cars and Coffee event photos show that not a single of the four angular fender flares were properly aligned. Not only that but they were all misaligned differently, which is a heck of an accomplishment. Worst of all was the tailgate. Photos show that the tailgate was so poorly fit that it didn’t even line up with the trunk…hatch….thing. The problem only became more apparent with the taillights on. 

Is the Tesla Cybertruck as bad as it seems? 

At every turn, the Tesla Cybertruck has felt like Musk and the folks at Tesla might have bit off more than they could chew. Faith in the truck is tough to muster between delays and seemingly catastrophic fitment issues. A leaked email from earlier this year showed Musk telling employees that the Cybertruck needed to be built to “sub-10 micron accuracy,” which this black thing certainly isn’t even kind of in the ballpark of hitting. 

This thing is so shoddy-looking that it is almost impossible to take at face value. It really feels like a red herring or some marketing play to create a bunch of negative buzz before the launch of the real one. This black Cybertruck is so absurd that I feel like a conspiracy theorist. Did Holzhausen give some hand signal? Do the license plate numbers add up to anything significant? What the hell is happening here?