Tesla Showdown: 2012 Model S vs. 2022 Cybertruck

The world was divided when Tesla's first family-sized sedan, Model S, burst onto the scene in 2012. Fanboys rejoiced, haters trolled. Tesla's success would end quickly once Big Auto's electrics came to fruition, right? 

Above: 2012 Tesla Model S faces off with the forthcoming 2022 Tesla Cybertruck (Source: Motor Trend / Tesla)

On Wall Street, bulls bet big, bears sold short. Short sellers, after all, were cocksure about the company's imminent demise. 

Guess what? Not much has changed in 2019. After Tesla's recent unveiling of its 2022 Cybertruck, the world is even more divided. Sure, Cybertruck's got scores of fans (250,000 pre-orders and counting), but it's also got plenty of haters. 

But on Wall Street, with Tesla's stock hitting all-time highs this week, the narrative of Tesla's imminent death is (itself) dying.

Why? As pointed out by Johnna Crider in Cleantechnica, "The 2012 Tesla Model S, despite being nearly 8 years old, is crushing the new 2019 and 2020 EV entrants on range and efficiency." It's becoming crystal clear — Big Auto's electrics are struggling to compete with Tesla. She references @28delayslater who says, "Even with time and money, traditional automakers cannot best the original Model S."

Above: New EVs like the Porsche Taycan, Jaguar I-Pace, and Audi e-tron can't take down the old-school 2012 Tesla Model S (Twitter: @28delayslater via DOE)

In the meantime, Tesla shorts are buying time. They argue that Big Auto's EV efforts will improve. We agree! Let's hope so. But, let's also not forget — while legacy automakers incrementally improve, so will Tesla.

For context, the Tesla Daily Podcast pit the original 2012 Tesla Model S against the company's own 2022 Cybertruck. They crunched the numbers and analyzed price, cost of range per mile, efficiency, and other key metrics that showcase how much the Silicon Valley automaker improves over a decade.

Above: 2012 Model S Performance vs. 2022 Cybertruck Tri-Motor looking at price, cost, and range improvement (%) over a decade (Source: Tesla Daily Podcast); Editor's Note: Despite the 120 kW charging rate shown above for the 2012 Model S, it was actually 90kW intially since Tesla didn't come out with batteries to support 120kW until the spring of 2013.

The ten-year comparison (see above) provides Tesla buyers with significantly more options and perks with a ~24% cheaper price tag. Some of these new perks include: Tri-Motor All-Wheel-Drive vs. Single Motor RWD, 0-60 mph from 4.4s to less than 2.9s, and Autopilot hardware with 8 cameras, 12-ultrasonic sensors, 1-forward radar capable of delivering FSD features like Smart Summon and beyond.

Meanwhile, the range has almost doubled from 265 miles (426 km) to 500+ miles (804+ km) for a lower per mile of range purchased, from 2.9 miles/$1k in 2012 to 7.2 miles/$1k in 2022 (150% more range per $). And Tesla's ability to continually squeeze out more range via software and hardware tweaks is proof positive that Tesla remains relentless about constantly improving its cars.

Above: There wasn't even a Supercharger network when Tesla launched the 2012 Model S (Flickr: Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine)

Another factor to consider — Tesla's V3 Supercharging reduced charging times as evidenced in a recent test which demonstrates a Tesla Model 3 adding 150 miles of range in just 11.5 mins, just a little longer than pumping gas (if there's no line at the gas station). Remember — there wasn't even a Supercharger Network when the Model S was launched in 2012! Now there's over 15,000 Tesla Superchargers.

Okay. But what about vehicle design? After all, the 2012 Tesla Model S was love at first sight. The Cybertruck? Ummm... not so much. But as the chart below demonstrates, Cybertruck's unconventional design does have a way of growing on you.

Above: The Cybertruck's 7 stages of acceptance (Twitter: @xautoworld100)

Regardless of design preferences, compared with the 2012 Model S, Tesla owners now get more power, more acceleration, more durability, advanced battery tech, revolutionary software updates, and much, much more bang for the buck with the Cybertruck.

It's time to wake up people. Don't sleep on Tesla, they're evolving quickly. As for those legacy automakers, we'll have to wait and see.


Written by: Iqtidar Ali. An earlier version of this article was originally published on X Auto.