Elon Musk unveils Tesla's Cybertruck, a 'bulletproof' electric pickup — but it doesn't go quite as planned

A sledgehammer swung at the door had no effect, but when a metal sphere was hurled against the window, it cracked. "Room for improvement," Musk joked.

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By Phil Helsel

LOS ANGELES — Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the company's electric Cybertruck Thursday, but an attempt to show off the vehicle's strength hit a bump in the road.

A sledgehammer was swung at the doors of the silver vehicle, with no apparent effect. A video played on screens showing a bullet striking it, and Musk said, "It is literally bulletproof to a 9 mm handgun, that's how strong the skin is."

He joked that federal work safety rules, as well as California’s gun laws, precluded a live demonstration.

But when a metal sphere was hurled against the window, with the words "demo Tesla armor glass" lit on screen, in a test of strength, the glass cracked.

"Well, maybe that was a little too hard," the Tesla and SpaceX tech entrepreneur said to the crowd at Tesla's design studio in Hawthorne, which is a city in the Los Angeles area. "It didn't go through."

When the ball was thrown against a second window, it also cracked. "Not bad — room for improvement,” Musk joked.

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"We threw wrenches, we threw everything. We even literally threw the kitchen sink at the glass, and it didn’t break. For a little weird reason, it broke now, I don’t know why," Musk said on stage, remarks that elicited laughter.

The incident was widely shared, with journalists tweeting their amusement.

The truck, which Musk said will cost $39,900 and up, will have an estimated battery range of between 250 miles to more than 500 miles.

With the launch, Tesla is edging into the most profitable corner of the U.S. auto market, where buyers tend to have fierce brand loyalty, The Associated Press reported.

The truck is Tesla's sixth vehicle since it was founded in 2003, and its most experimental, according to CNBC. It will be competing in a market against the Ford F Series, which has been the best-selling pickup for more than 40 years in the U.S., followed by GM's Chevrolet Silverado, another formidable competitor.

The Cybertruck starts at $39,900 for a single motor model, with a base price of $69,900 for a tri motor all-wheel drive model.

Production will take place in late 2021, Tesla said, though production for the tri motor model will start in late 2022.

On Twitter, users mocked the truck's unconventional design.

One likened the vehicle to a car from TV show The Simpsons.

And another compared it to an old Pontiac.

Associated Press contributed.