When it comes to Elon Musk, there’s always a new angle or two. This time, they are literal. With his customary panache, Musk unveiled Tesla’s stainless-steel, electric pickup truck -- which purportedly will hit the freeways and backroads in late 2021 -- at the Los Angeles Auto Show yesterday.
“When the truck initially drove onto the stage, many in the crowd clearly couldn’t believe that this was actually the vehicle they’d come to see. The Cybertruck looks like a large metal trapezoid on wheels, more like an art piece than a truck,” writes Peter Valdes-Dapena for CNN Business.
“Instead of a distinctly separate cab and bed, the body appears to be a single form. The exterior is made from a newly developed stainless steel alloy, Musk said, the same metal that’s used for SpaceX rockets. That alloy enables the car to be ‘literally bulletproof’ against, at least, smaller firearms, including a 9 millimeter handgun, Musk said,” Valdes-Dapena continues.
“Rumors pointed to a wild design for the Cybertruck, and clearly they were right. Heck, the name itself hinted at something fairly futuristic, even if the term ‘cyber’ has largely fallen out of today’s vernacular. Even so, we still didn’t expect this knife-edged, triangular-shaped design, let alone this truck's alleged bulletproof construction,” Sean Szymkowski and Chris Paukert write for CNET’s “Road Show.”
On the other side of the reveal, Musk didn’t expect the demo of that toughness to go awry. It did.
“In the demo, Tesla chief designer Franz von Holzhausen initially took a sledgehammer to the truck, which withstood the impact. Then it all went wrong,” Bloomberg News reports, as is apparent in Ed Ludlow’s video coverage. When von Holzhausen aimed a steel ball at the driver’s side window, it shattered. In fact, the event ended with two cracked “armor glass” windows “and the hashtag #cybertruck trending on Twitter for all the wrong reasons,” as Bloomberg’s Thuy Ong and Natnicha Chuwiruch put it.
While the ball left a large impression and a tiny hole in the driver’s side window, it rebounded like a baseball hitting the Green Monster in Boston’s Fenway Park. A back seat window cracked, too.
“It didn’t go through,” Musk improvised, looking at the glass half full. “We threw everything, we even literally threw the kitchen sink at the glass and it didn’t break. For some weird reason it broke now, I don’t know why,” he continued, Donna Lu reports for New Scientist.
“The company unveiled
three models: A single-motor rear wheel drive for $39,900, a dual-motor all wheel drive for $49,900, and a tri-motor all wheel drive for $69,900. The most expensive truck tows 14,000 pounds and can go
up to 500 miles on a single charge, Tesla said. Mr. Musk said the truck has the acceleration of a Porsche,” Karen Zraick, Neal Boudette and Daniel Victor report for The New York Times.
“The truck marks the first foray by Tesla, whose Model 3 sedan is the world’s top-selling battery electric car, into pickup trucks, a market dominated by Ford Motor Co's F-150, along with models by General Motors Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV,” Reuters’ Naomi Tajitsu and Peter Henderson observe on Yahoo News.
“‘Trucks have been the same for a very long time, like 100 years,’ Musk said, as an audience of Tesla fans chuckled at a slideshow of pickup truck designs throughout the decades. ‘We need something different.’”
“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. Many pickup truck buyers stick with the same brand for life, choosing a truck based on what their mom or dad drove or what they decided was the toughest model, said Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business,” the Associated Press points out.
“‘They’re very much creatures of habit,’ Gordon said. Getting a loyal Ford F-150 buyer to consider switching to another brand such as a Chevy Silverado, ‘it’s like asking him to leave his family,’ he said,” the AP continues.
Those who are tempted to do so can place their orders, for a “fully refundable” $100, on the Tesla website.