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At $39k the Tesla Cybertruck will be Tesla's cheapest EV — how did that happen?

an image of the Tesla Cybertruck on the road
(Image credit: Tesla)

Historically the Tesla Model 3 has been the ‘cheap’ Tesla car, but you may be surprised to hear that’s no longer the case. The cheapest car in Tesla's current repertoire is actually the Tesla Cybertruck. Yes, really.

Thanks to Tesla’s latest price hike, the cheapest Model 3 is now $41,990 before any financial incentives, up from $39,990. Meanwhile, the cheapest Cybertruck is still $39,900. Unfortunately, it’s not arriving for quite some time.

Tesla has been on a spree of price increases this year, and the Standard Range Model 3 has risen a whopping $4,000 from the $37,990 price tag it had at the start of 2021. The Cybertruck pricing has remained completely static, to the point where the single-motor model is now the cheapest Tesla by a significant margin.

Naturally that model isn’t the best Cybertruck Tesla has to offer. It only has around 250 miles of range, 7,500 lbs of towing capacity and a 0-60 speed of 6.5 seconds. The single motor means it only offers rear wheel drive, too.

Meanwhile, the flagship Cybertruck model has three motors, 500+ miles of range, 14,000 lbs of towing capacity, and a 0-60 time of 2.9 seconds. However, it costs $69,990 — an increase of $30,000.

While the Cybertruck may be over $2,000 cheaper than the Model 3, it probably isn’t your best option if you want to switch to a Tesla anytime soon. Recent delays mean the Cybertruck won’t be arriving in late 2021, as originally planned, and it’s not clear when the first units will go into production next year.

Tesla said that the Cybertruck is to be built at its Texas Gigafactory, but work won’t begin until after Model Y production begins. That still hasn’t started, according to reports, though Tesla has claimed full scale production will kick off before the end of this year.

The single-motor Cybertruck was always intended to come after the triple and dual-motor models, with an original delivery estimate of late 2022. Even if Tesla is able to stick to that window, which seems unlikely, it means you won’t be getting a cheap Cybertruck for at least another year.

The Standard Range Plus Model 3 currently has an April 2022 delivery estimate in the United States. So even in the best case scenario, you’d get a Model 3 several months before the Cybertruck.

Choosing between the two is going to be a case of figuring out exactly what you want and when you need it. The Cybertruck will be useful for all those things one might use a truck for, and it’s going to stand out from every other vehicle on the road — electric or not.

The Model 3 is more akin to a luxury sedan. A counterpart to a Mercedes or a BMW saloon, that’s built to offer a smooth and comfortable ride as you get around. It has plenty of storage space, but that’s not exactly what it’s built to offer.

But is that worth an extra $2,000 and a faster delivery? That’s up for you to decide.

Tom Pritchard

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.