Jay Leno remembers watching Elon Musk unveiling Tesla's new Cybertruck, which set the auto world abuzz, on television in November. But apparently there's nothing like seeing Tesla's first all-electric pickup with his own eyes.
"I saw it on TV … but nothing strikes you until you see it in person," Leno says in a new episode of "Jay Leno's Garage" that airs on CNBC on Wednesday at 10 pm ET.
The former late-night talk show host and longtime auto aficionado travels to Tesla's Hawthorne, California headquarters for the episode. There he's joined by Musk and the Cybertruck, which is slated to begin production in late-2021 and will start at $39,900, for a test drive.
In fact, Leno drives the Cybertruck in Musk's The Boring Company test tunnel for a rapid transit system, which runs for 1.1 miles underneath Los Angeles.
"Elon has dared me to take [the Cybertruck] down The Boring Company's test tunnel, right under Los Angeles," Leno says as he and Musk drive the electric pickup into the tunnel, which is roughly 14 feet wide. Musk says the tunnel averages between 50 feet and 60 feet in underground depth.
"It'll be quite interesting to see if we actually can fit down there." Musk says, noting that the company had never before even tried to fit the more than six-foot-wide truck through the tunnel.
At one point, while driving the Cybertruck, Musk tells Leno that Tesla could take all of the pickup's proportions and "drop them by 5%" to make sure the truck can fit in an average driver's garage. However on Saturday, Musk tweeted that he and Tesla's chief designer, Franz von Holzhausen, decided against the change, so the Cybertruck should "pretty much this size" when it goes into production. Musk added that Tesla will "probably do a smaller" electric pickup "at some point."
But Leno and Musk get the Cybertruck through the tunnel, which ends with an elevator platform that lifts the pickup back to the surface.
(You can see more of the ride through the tunnel in the episode on CNBC on Wednesday.)
On the episode, Leno also points out how the Cybertruck — which has a "cyberpunk" styling that Musk has said was inspired by the sci-fi movie "Blade Runner" as well as the James Bond film "The Spy Who Loved Me" — challenges traditional perceptions of what a pickup truck should look like.
Upon the Cybertruck's unveiling last year, for instance, The New York Times noted that Tesla's electric truck is "pointy", with a stainless steel exterior and sharply-angled design that immediately set it apart from traditionally popular pickups like Ford's F-150.
"Pickup truck buyers tend to be pretty conservative in what they like. 'It needs to look like a pickup truck,' right?" Leno says on the show. "And this doesn't look anything like a pickup truck, but it immediately makes pickup trucks look old-fashioned."
Of course, some analysts have worried that the Cybertruck's futuristic design would make it less desirable to the typical pickup customer. "It misses the core truck buyer," analyst Gene Munster of Loup Ventures said of the Cybertruck in November. "A contractor is not going to show up to a work site in this truck."
"I think there's a preconceived notion of what a pickup truck should be, and that's something that we said, 'If we're going to go bold, then we have to do something that breaks that norm,'" Tesla's von Holzhausen tells Leno in the episode.
Still, by the end of November, Musk tweeted that Tesla had received over 250,000 pre-orders for the Cybertruck. (Though, it's worth noting that a Cybertruck pre-order is not considered a deposit, according to the pre-order agreement on Tesla's website, and it only requires a $100 processing fee that does not count as a purchasing agreement. Tesla has not yet released any official sales numbers for the Cybertruck.)
In another part of the episode, Musk and von Holzhausen show off the Cybertruck's "vault", the 6.5-foot-deep metal cover for the truck's cargo bed, which can hold up to 3,500 pounds of cargo, according to Tesla. The vault is a locking, protective shield covering that slides in place with the touch of a button to cover the Cybertruck's cargo bed.
"It'll protect your cargo and secure it against being stolen," Musk tells Leno before proving his claim that the vault's shield is "very strong" by jumping on the back of the truck and walking on top of the shield.
Leno notes that the truck has a "good-sized bed," to which Musk jokes: "If you want to mount, like, a missile-launcher, or something, you can do that."
This story has been updated to include Musk's latest comments on the size of the Cybertruck.
Watch all new episodes of "Jay Leno's Garage" Wednesdays at 10P ET on CNBC.
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