“Clown Car”



By now you surely know the story: In 2019, Elon Musk unveiled the Tesla Cyber truck, making all sorts of amazing promises.

This is more than just an indulgent flight of fancy: Americans buy 2.5 million pickups a year, and the Ford F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in America for the past 40 years. The multi-billion dollar question is whether Tesla can make a compelling vehicle at an attractive price point that pulls in buyers from other pickup manufacturers or EV makers.

Personally, I think the cyber truck is just too damn ugly. I cannot ever imagine buying one of these. It looked like a vector graphic pulled out of an early 1980s video game. Then again, I am not planning for a zombie apocalypse, a weird niche market where these might be useful.

We will find out the details and specs at 3 pm when the news gets released. (You can follow the event live on X).

The challenge for this oddly shaped pickup truck goes beyond its looks: The entry-level Ford F150 Lightning (my review here) is a lot of vehicle for the money, starting from $50k (up from $40k) and going up to the $90k+. At the high end, the Rivian R1T pickup begins pricing at $73k, offers amazing performance and off-road capabilities. Doug Demuro called the R1T “the coolest pickup truck ever made.” It has a 400+ mile range, up to 750 HP, and does 0-60 in 3.0 seconds.

At a car event earlier this year, I spoke with (full-sized traditional) pick-up truck owners, one of whom called the Tesla Cyber truck a “Clown Car.” I think it looks more like it came out of a video game, but that’s my view. My guess is he won’t be a buyer.

I think we are best served by waiting to learn the final costs, features, and configurations before writing its epitaph. Tesla has almost 2 million reservations; at $100 each (that’s a lot of free money). And say what you will about Musk’s erratic behavior, anti-semitism, and foolish personal purchases, he is a tough guy to bet against.

We do know that Tesla finds itself in the unusual position of being way behind the industry. The Rivian has been out for 2 years and the Ford Lightning for over a year. Full production of the Cyber truck is still off in 2024.

When Musk unveiled the Cyber truck, he said he wanted to do something different. But there is a concept in product design called MAYA — Most Advanced Yet Acceptable. Derek Thompson does a wonderful job explaining why most new products — songs, buildings, cars, really anything — can only push the envelope so far.

It will be interesting to see if this oddly shaped pickup finds an audience beyond the Tesla faithful. Also interesting is how Tesla will adjust to manufacturing and sales challenges.

I am curious to see what the details are, even if I am not the target demographic or vehicle buyer for this vehicle out of Battle Zone …



UPDATE 2 December 10, 2023

From Wired:

The Cybertruck Must Be Huge—or It Will Dig Tesla’s Grave:
If Musk fulfils just 15 percent of Cybertruck preorders, it would equal the annual US truck sales of Toyota. If the polarizing EV flops, Tesla could be in big trouble. 


UPDATE: November 30 2023 3pm

From their own site, the Tesla Cyber truck update



Rivian R1T Pickup Truck (January 24, 2020)

Ford to Tesla: “We got it from here” (June 17, 2022)


See also:
2024 Tesla Cybertruck
Eric Stafford, Car and Driver

The Four-Letter Code to Selling Just About Anything
By Derek Thompson
The Atlantic JAN/FEB 2017

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Posted Under