Tesla Cybertruck Memes Aside, What The Hell is Wrong With Tesla?

LEGO "cybertruck" 1 photo
Photo: LEGO
I think it's great that Elon Musk exists, I really do. Monotonous by design, the automotive industry would be a much duller place without people like him, especially when he's so active on social media and not always for all the right reasons.
Tesla, as a car company, is also a more than welcome addition to the automotive landscape and even the world, its very existence creating a ripple effect across global industries. Almost every self-respecting carmaker has changed its way of doing business in one way or another because of Tesla, which has only been making cars for less than a decade markets itself mostly using word-of-mouth.

Sure, Dieselgate can also take a lot of credit for Volkswagen's recent foray into the electric car-making business, but if it weren't for Tesla the Germans would probably still market TDI engines as being eco-friendly. The recently launched Audi S4 and S6 are only available with diesel powertrains in Europe, so that may contradict my point, but VW is about to embark on an EV odyssey that will simply flood the market with electric cars in less than 5 years.

Half of the people that saw the Cybertruck feel that it remind them of a 1980s sci-fi movie prop that never was and we could probably include Elon Musk in that category. Of those, I would blind guess that less than a tenth would ever consider buying the electric pickup when/if it goes on sale in 2021. The other half is further spread into categories that range from skeptics to fun-loving meme creators, and I am pretty sure that none of them is saving up for the Tesla Cybertruck or for an electric pickup truck in general for that matter. That's another story for another time, though.

So, my first question is related mainly to the Cybertruck, but it's actually about Tesla and its way of doing business in general. Is the Cybertruck going to be a blockbuster or a hideous flop like its official reveal?

I think more people talked about the pixelated styling and the driver's side window that broke when it wasn't supposed to instead of talking about the second window that shattered exactly at the right moment.

Why did Elon tell Franz von Holhausen to throw the metal ball a second time anyway? It was a live product launch in front of hundreds of people on-site and tens of thousands watching it online. Musk could have easily talked his way out of any glitch but two in a row? Unlikely, which is why Tesla's stock almost immediately fell by 6 percent the day after.

I don't want to talk too much about the shattered “unbreakable windows” too much, though. There are plenty of reasons why I see the Cybertruck as just a silly attempt at buzz marketing. Sure, the 301 stainless steel body has its upsides, such as being rust-free by default and allegedly resistant against a 9mm Luger round or a sledgehammer.

Its 3mm thickness also makes a single door panel weigh around 60 pounds, thus removing any weight advantage that the Cybertruck's unibody construction might have had over a traditional body-on-frame truck.

While still sitting low, the batteries cannot extend under the bed since a large payload capacity is still a prerequisite and weight would shift too much rearward when the truck is full. This translates into a smaller battery capacity that has to move a rather heavy and (possibly) non-aerodynamic body.

Tesla hasn't mentioned any word on battery capacity, but if the base model has an EPA-estimated 250 miles of range and we have already established that we're talking about a heavy and not-exactly-aerodynamic hunk of stainless steel I can only assume the worst.

Currently, the biggest vehicle battery pack that Tesla makes is 100 kWh and the cheapest car you can buy it with costs $79,990 before any incentives, which are about to run out for Tesla, by the way. Assuming an average of about $100 cost per kWh of li-ion batteries we can extrapolate and calculate that you spend approximately 70 grand for a Tesla Model S Long Range without a battery. If the base Cybertruck gets the same amount of kWh, and it should, because like I said, it's really heavy and non-aerodynamic compared to the Model S, you do the math!

Even if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Tesla's first pickup truck is definitely no oil painting - no matter how you look at it - but some potential electric pickup buyers might find it has other qualities, such as pricing, gizmos, performance, you name it!

During the launch, Elon Musk reiterated that the base Cybertruck will start from $39,900, which leaves about $30,000 for manufacturing a truck that is built on its own platform, has tons of technology, and can recuperate all the R&D costs involved while also making a profit. Am I literally the only one who's not buying it?

Apparently the answer to that is "yes," because Elon just announced 250,000 orders for the truck already, just 5 days after launch. Remember, when it finally goes on sale, it will have no federal tax credit incentive, no Tesla dealers and no advertisements. Everything will be done by word-of-mouth marketing, which is what the Cybertruck launch really was.
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About the author: Alex Oagana
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Alex handled his first real steering wheel at the age of five (on a field) and started practicing "Scandinavian Flicks" at 14 (on non-public gravel roads). Following his time at the University of Journalism, he landed his first real job at the local franchise of Top Gear magazine a few years before Mircea (Panait). Not long after, Alex entered the New Media realm with the project.
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