Is Tesla's Cybertruck for Real? The Jury's Out

By contrast, consider the 2017 introduction of the Tesla Semi , where Musk reveled in the 18-wheeler’s engineering and design details that diverged from the status quo not for the sake of it, but for tangible improvements. Like how putting the driver’s seat in the middle of the cab improves visibility, as does the shortened nose, an upshot of removing the engine. How the twin touch screens would let truckers control both the vehicle and their work, and how onboard sensors and smart software would prevent jackknifing. There, he put detailed numbers on display, breaking down the routes the truck could run, and when going with batteries would trump the traditional diesel.
Those are hallmarks of a Musk presentation, and of Tesla vehicles. The company’s weaknesses have always stemmed from practicalities: missed deadlines, cost overruns, unreliable profits, less-than-sterling quality. And Musk gets himself in trouble on Twitter, starting fights with government agencies and strangers that distract from the automaker’s core business. The cars, though, have always made up for those faults. However questionable Tesla’s long-term prospects and valuation (more than Ford! more than GM!), it has always landed its sales pitches.
Musk has an intrinsic ability to convince people that his vehicles are not just the best electrics on the road, but the best of any kind, because Tesla rethinks every feature and facet. But on stage Thursday night, Musk spent more time mocking the “Built Ford Tough” slogan than positioning his vehicle as something that would be more fun to drive than the perennially best-selling F-150.Why is hard to discern. The Cybertruck is at least two years away, but so was the Semi when Musk first showed it off. Tesla might have had too much in the pipeline—the Semi, the revamped Roadster, and the Model Y are all due out next year—to focus on this truck. But current obligations have never stopped Musk signing up for more work. (See: Boring Company .) Perhaps it was a rush job, a theory that might explain the broken windows. Or maybe that gaffe threw Musk so far off his game that he couldn’t lay out his argument.
Whatever the reason, Musk didn’t put much heart into this latest presentation, and investors don’t seem impressed: Tesla’s stock price dropped by more than 6 percent on Friday. To be sure, Tesla rethought the pickup truck, at least in looks and materials. But the lack of detail, of explanation, of a real pitch, should make you wonder just how real any of it is. It certainly doesn’t feel much like a Tesla, because Musk didn’t sell it the way he has always sold his cars: as smarter, cooler, faster, stronger, safer, tougher, and better for humanity than anything plying the roads today. He seems to have settled for offering something different.
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