By on August 3, 2020

Tesla CEO Elon Musk was on top of his game during an interview with Automotive News last week. By that, we mean his ego and various personality quirks came through like a shaft of sunlight parting a fog bank.

Musk announced during the talk that his company performed no customer research before designing and revealing the polarizing and still-not-clearly-legal Cybertruck to would-be buyers, laughing at the idea. If folks don’t like it, he said, there’s a plan.

“We just made a car we thought was awesome and looks super weird. I just wanted to make a futuristic battle tank — something that looks like it could come out of Blade Runner or Aliens or something like that but was also highly functional,” Musk said, adding, “I wasn’t super worried about that because if it turns out nobody wants to buy a weird-looking truck, we’ll build a normal truck, no problem.”

Surely there’s a detailed design of this backup-plan truck ready to go, but something tells us there most definitely is not.

Cybertruck, scheduled to commence production at a new Austin, Texas assembly plant late next year, is aimed at North American consumers, Musk said, apparently confirming its non-global role in the automaker’s lineup. Some 200,000 would-be owners have made a deposit, the CEO added, hinting that the model’s appearance and stated abilities have endowed it with apocalypse appeal — something not many people were thinking about in 2019. (Note: This writer is always thinking about the apocalypse.)

After tooting his horn on the truck front and boasting of the company’s sky-high valuation, Musk then addressed the ongoing concerns over his company’s oft-maligned Autopilot driver-assist system. Calling criticism of the name and concerns about driver misuse “idiotic,” Musk said the name hails from aircraft terminology. And if people misuse it, that’s on them, as Tesla tells them to pay attention to the road.

Once upon a time, the company, or at least Musk, was much more cavalier about the system’s abilities. In the years since the system’s introduction, several high-profile fatal collisions have occurred, with numerous investigations ongoing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“The people who misuse Autopilot, it’s not because they’re new to it and don’t understand it. The people who first use Autopilot are extremely paranoid about it,” Musk said. “It’s not like, ‘If you just introduced a different name, I would have really treated it differently.’ If something goes wrong with Autopilot, it’s because someone is misusing it and using it directly contrary to how we’ve said it should be used.”

He continued.

“It’s not like some newbie who just got the car and, based on the name, thought they’d instantly trust the car to drive itself. That’s the idiotic premise of being upset with the Autopilot name. Idiotic.”

[Image: Tesla, IIHS]

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27 Comments on “Musk on Cybertruck: If They Don’t Like It, We’ll Go Boring...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    He’s right about Autopilot. No lawsuit against it will ever succeed because it is a Level 2 system.

    But I do expect a class-action lawsuit over the oft-promised Full Self Driving, which *must* work, but never will, after having taken the money of many buyers while being completely unavailable to them or second-hand buyers.

    And frankly, I don’t believe the part about no market research on the Cybertruck. They certainly had some sort of input from the market.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I believe they don’t do any market research since they don’t even pay attention to the market. If they actually payed attention to the market the Y would have been introduced before the 3 as it has been obvious for at least a decade that a CUV will sell for a lot more than the sedan it is based on. Not only are people willing to pay thousands more for the base model, they are much more likely to spend money on high margin trim packages and options.

      The X is another case where they obviously failed to understand the market. It should have been a success but the stupid doors clipped its wings.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      Tesla has been pretty clear that what is on the window sticker has no bearing on what the second hand buyer gets.

  • avatar
    Matt51

    Musk is weird.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    A weird man musk is, I hope he makes some $ with this awful looking thing .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Protractor has a curved edge as well as a straight edge. Use it!

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The engineering reason for the straight edges is that the thing is made out of unstampable stainless steel. They can do origami with stainless steel sheets, but they can’t do compound curves.

      The marketing reason is that, if they try to out F-150, they’ll lose in the market. The F-150 is wonderful at being a F-150, and Ford has decades of experience in making their F-150 the best F-150 there is. So, Tesla has to do something different.

      So, they went all dystopian.

      Also, the shape is more aerodynamic than it looks. That funky triangle bend over the driver’s seat is likely there to cause flow separation. If the boundary layer is big enough and it has the stall strips and vortex generators in the right places, the aerodynamics won’t be too bad.

      There’s no doubt that the CT is ugly. I’ve come around to the idea that it’s ugly like a Jeep. I’ve also come around to the idea that a stainless steel truck body, despite it’s brutalist aesthetic, will last a very long time. So, the CT may be ugly on Day 1, but it’ll be exactly the same amount of ugly on day 10,000. That’s better than a truck that’s pretty on Day 1 and looks weathered and beaten on day 5,000. So, yeah, stainless steel has some tradeoffs, but they might work out for me.

  • avatar
    Fred

    “late next year” That maybe possible in China where you do what they say, or else. But even in a state like Texas with a lack of regulations, I think that’s a bit optimistic.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “late next year” That maybe possible in China where you do what they say, or else. But even in a state like Texas with a lack of regulations, I think that’s a bit optimistic.”:

      I wouldn’t be so sure about that. The Austin site was swarmed with earthmoving almost immediately after the announcement. I followed the Shanghai plant progress and this one seems to be moving even faster. They’re also using prefabricated pieces that are probably being constructed offsite while the site is being prepared. It’s going to go up fast. Maybe faster than China.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    Depends if you want it to sell. A Ram isn’t boring. Add a V8 as too, and they will sell well!

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I personally dislike V8s.

      Pairing a V8 with a hybrid system makes it suck less, by minimizing the drama under the hood. The thirsty beast is less annoying when it can take naps.

      Some people seem to actually like all of that unnecessary sound and fury.

      I bought a GMC Sierra 2-Mode hybrid to drive while I wait for the CT. My wife wants me to move heavy objects before 2022. I like it much better than a conventional V8.

      To each their own, I guess.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    If it weren’t so big, I’d probably order one myself.

  • avatar

    “his company performed no customer research before designing and revealing the polarizing and still-not-clearly-legal Cybertruck to would-be buyers”

    It looked futuristic when it was first revealed but today it looks normal, perfectly designed for the dystopian future we are living in now. It will be a hit among those of us who still have well paying a job.

  • avatar

    On the other hand why Musk does not wear mask?

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    Must does amazing things, but he is kind of an idiot-savante. Always good to have some Muskepticism.

    Look at the electrically actuated, power door handles. The freeze shut in winter, break frequently and cost $1200 to fix. For what? An extra 30 ft of range and cool-factor?

    Looking at this truck:
    1. The windshield is huge and way too sloped. In Phoenix at noon in July you’ll need a 2-ton HVAC, and you’ll be blinded by the sun.
    2. That huge windshield is never perfectly clean. It will impair vision more than regular windshield. Can you imagine cleaning the inner windshield?
    3. The “exoskeleton” is really just unibody. Some advantages but how to hook winch, snowplow, campber, hitch, or steel rack for hauling stuff?
    4. this thing is incredibly heavy. this means more expensive tires and EV’s already burn through donuts super fast.
    5. It is hard to garage.
    6. This thing weight much more than model2, and has similar power and range so likely a lot more battery. If it charges at same energy/time it will take longer to recharge. Do you have spend longer at supercharger on long trips?
    7. Peripheral vision impaired by giant sail panels.
    8. People are calling Musk a genius for using stainless and saving money on paint shop, OK paint shops aint cheap. But neither is stainless, rough calc says 700 bucks extra material cost for stainless which is pricey.
    9. Is this thing practically repairably post crash?

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “3. The “exoskeleton” is really just unibody. Some advantages but how to hook winch, snowplow, campber, hitch, or steel rack for hauling stuff?”

      No, it’s not a unibody. The body metal is as thick or maybe even thicker than the metal used to make a conventional frame. The triangular shape is for strength as well. It’s something even stronger than a body on frame.

      “this thing is incredibly heavy. this means more expensive tires and EV’s already burn through donuts super fast.”

      The batteries, are 20% more dense than previous cells according to panasonic. That “may” mean 20% lighter, That number might even get better with their in-house cells that might have an even better gravimetric density. Charging rates may be higher as well with the new cells.

      9. Is this thing practically repairably post crash?
      Simple straight flat stainless steel panels. That should be easy to repair. No paint saves a lot of money on repair costs. The extra strength may also mean a flat panel that can be heated and pounded out vs. conventional steel that would be so damaged it would have to be replaced. For most fender benders, it’s probably just a trip to the detailer to be buffed out and clean off the paint left behind by the other vehicle

      “It is hard to garage.” That’s true. My reason for not getting one is related. The roads where I live are so narrow, it’s a pain to own anything full-size. You can pass cars okay, but anything else, you have to slow down and squeeze by.

      “Look at the electrically actuated, power door handles.”
      I’m not a fan of those either. Electrified Garage in New Hampshire is making money selling an improved design of the handles on the Model S. Given the strength of the materials in the cybertruck, if you combined the right amount of heat and strong enough actuators, you could have something better than conventional handles (which freeze as well). The Model 3 handles aren’t bad, and maybe even better than conventional if you know the trick of hitting a certain spot with your hand. My solution for ice on the handles of my EV, when parked outside, is to set the inside temp to max and start the HVAC a couple of hours ahead of time. While plugged in of course. It not only clears the door handles but the glass and sometimes the body. I’ve left co-workers behind scaping away at their cars with my perfectly clear glass after using that trick.

      ” this thing is incredibly heavy.”

      It’s generally lighter than an F-250. About 500 lbs heavier than an F150 from what I can tell. The Model 2 hatchbacks weight hasn’t been published yet since it’s still on the drawing board, but I assume you meant the Model 3. Some versions of the Porsche 911 are heavier than some versions of the Model 3.

      “Do you have spend longer at supercharger on long trips?”

      After driving for the 7 or 8 hours it takes to exhaust its range, I’d be ready for a long break. What I would do on a long trip is take some short 15 to 30-minute charging sessions when I stop to take food and bathroom breaks to either shorten the charging time at the end of the trip or extend the range. I sort of do that now. On my way back from the mountains, I’ll just stop for a 15-minute charge that I need to get me home with some padding. I don’t bother fully charging. My new car will make the round trip 1.5 times without a charge, so soon that will be a thing of the past. Well, I might still make the same stop to buy groceries. I just won’t bother charging.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      1• That sloped windshield means you get much better on-the-road economy than any other truck its size, were it carrying an ICE instead of batteries.
      Additionally, there are very easy ways to limit the solar absorption by that glass as there are coatings available specifically designed to block infrared heat from entering the vehicle. My local tint shop has shown me three different brands that perform similarly and they’re remarkably effective even when optically clear. You can also get what would be called an ‘eyebrow tint’ which lets you darken the higher part of the glass so you’re not blinded by the sun.

      2• That’s your imagination… unless, of course, you’re a smoker. The glass is no harder to clean than any other windshield and likely easier than many. Any impairment tends to come from cigarette smoke and vapors from a liquid-based defogger/defroster system drawing its temperature from the vehicle’s wet cooling system, which the electric version won’t have. And cigarette smoke contains tar, which is WHY it’s so hard to clean off.
      3• Clearly you don’t understand “unibody.” The strength derived from “space frame” technology comes from the many curved shapes which add to the strength of the structure even when using near-paper-thin metal. The body panels on this truck are somewhere around 3/16ths to ⅜ths inches thick, making them significantly stronger than mere ‘unibody’ panels. Physically speaking, this thing will be tougher than any Class 1-3 pickup on the market and significantly more stable due to its ultra-low center of gravity as compared to those others. It’s already supposedly rated for towing 11,000 pounds or so, so a tow hitch is hardly a problem.
      4• This thing is only marginally heavier than those Class 1-3 pickups, which means it will be using pretty much the same tires as the common heavy-duty truck tire. They may come with a custom tire that offers better traction but if you can get a conventional tire with the same weight rating, I’m sure it will work just fine. And if you think that ONLY EVs burn through tires fast, then you haven’t seen the gassers and diesels I have. In fact, I’m betting that the tire ‘burn’ will be no worse than those ICEVs when driven conservatively rather than horsing it around the way those ‘tuned’ gassers and diesels are driven. Conservatively, by the way, means no donuts or burnouts. And from what I’ve seen, Tesla’s system specifically prevents such burnouts.

      5• No harder to garage than any other current full-sized pickup.

      6• Granted more battery… BUT… no longer to charge, either. Charging rate slows as a measure of charge state, not as a measure of electrons being pushed in. That’s why so many differently-sized EV batteries today pretty much charge in similar times. The limitation is the maximum rate of the charger and the on-board charging system, not the size of the battery.

      7• Bull. Sail panels on current pickups have the exact same issue. Visibility will be no worse–even if no better. Maybe you’ll learn to use your side mirrors/cameras more. Far safer since you’re not taking your attention as far away from where you’re driving as a result.

      8• You said it yourself; $800 more for materials is almost completely covered by the cost of painting, both in-house (factory) or third party. However, if you WANT to paint it, you can–after delivery. Better yet, take it to a skin shop and have a vinyl coating applied in any color or texture you want. You could make it mirror-bright gold or silver, if you wanted.

      9• Probably much more repairable than most other vehicles since replacement parts will be flat panels rather than compound curved sheet. I expect a lot tougher too, so you’ll be able to drive away from most normal collisions.

      In other words, your whole argument is specious at best, especially as the model gets older and is still strong compared to its same-model-year ICE cousins.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “which means it will be using pretty much the same tires as the common heavy-duty truck tire.”

        HD truck tires aren’t speed rated for 130mph. Are there any E-load, all-terrain tires with a 130mph speed rating available for sale right now?

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @ajia: So why worry about speed rating? You’re either driving a truck or driving a racer. There are certainly tires rated for racing heavy trucks, since we see them doing it on the track (and in the dirt) often enough. But they’re not going to be rated for carrying heavy loads at the same time. So you have a choice; buy speed-rated tires or load-rated tires. You can’t have both… yet.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “So why worry about speed rating?”

            If Tesla sells the Cybertruck with a 130mph top speed (which is what they have claimed) then the factory tires have to be rated for that speed. That’s the law.

            If Tesla puts a 99mph speed limiter on the truck then it is not an issue.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @ajia: I’m quite certain they’ll have the speed-rated tires but I’ll also bet they’re the limiting factor on the tow/haul load.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @thx_zetec: I would be careful about throwing out prejudice, if I were you. The logic of the Cybertruck design is obvious to those who aren’t blinded by “tradition.”

            1. Aerodynamics is both an art and a science. Modern pickup truck design by the legacy OEMs has been trying to use science to improve the fuel mileage of their trucks while keeping them looking like what they are: boxes on wheels. Oh, they’ve done ok, their Coefficient of Drag is pretty good but their frontal area is huge! This big, slab grilles and upright windshields mean they’re still pushing more air than they need. The frontal area on the Cybertruck is less than half that of a conventional truck, meaning it needs less energy to push it through that air… meaning more range on a smaller battery than those others. Don’t believe me? Ask them what size battery they plan to put in their trucks for the given range. Nearly all of them EXCEPT Tesla are claiming 200kWh or more to achieve their claimed 400-500 miles (empty.)

            2. I’ve already addressed this one. I won’t repeat myself.

            3. Keep believing that. Just remember, bullets pass easily through the body panels of most trucks today…even more so now that they’re aluminum on some models.

            4. Those EVs that burn up their tires are treated like sports cars. When it comes to agility, softer tires give more grip. So again, you don’t HAVE to put speed-rated tires under the Tesla if you don’t want to, just like you don’t HAVE to put load-rated tires under a conventional pickup. One or the other, not both. Decide on how you’re going to use the vehicle and tire up appropriately.

            5. —-

            6. ChargER capacity. Find out for yourself. The data is out there.

            7. Yeah, and because there’s a gap between the cab and the bed, the frame of that F-150 twists like a pretzel, no structural rigidity at all. Even GM has shown how that flimsy frame can actually prevent you from opening the tailgate if you don’t park on flat ground and such flexibility also makes its road handling very questionable on certain surfaces; I’ve experienced that myself in two different Ford trucks.

            8. Never said the savings was free but unpainted is ALWAYS less expensive than painted. I also said you could choose any color you want, AFTER you take delivery. At least he didn’t put it like Henry Ford: “You can have any color you want, as long as it’s black.”

            9. Umm… This stainless steel don’t bend; and that’s the point. The parts are cut either by water jet or plasma jet. This is a flat-pack design, if you haven’t noticed.

            I have looked at the Bollinger and it exaggerates everything that is wrong with conventional pickup trucks. It’s design harks back to the cars and trucks of the 1920s but I will note one thing: it, too, is a ‘unibody’ design, even if it does have a more conventional-looking ‘frame’ under it to carry the suspension That body is rigid front to back and has to be, considering the nose-to-tail pass through for lumber, tubing, etc. It also makes no claims of being economical to drive outside of low-speed and stop-start commuter driving. It may have range but if you go faster than 35mph, you’ll lose a lot of that range or be carrying one heck of a battery under it. Even the Rivian is better than that.

      • 0 avatar
        thx_zetec

        wow I struck a vein of musk’o’mania.

        1. Not sure what the fuel economy benefit is, you don’t have a source for the claim of aero improvements do you? (other than Musk saying that theoretically he could hit 0.3 . . . pretty vague). The angular shape does not appear optimized for aero (certainly not for room) but we’ll see.
        2. The more sloped a windshield is the larger area to clean, the longer reach, and the more a given level of contamination will affect visibility. Also let in more heat.
        3. OK it’s not a unibody because its thicker? Same advantages and disadvantages of unibody, but heavier OK major innovation.
        4. Well yeah tire wear depends on how you drive. EV’s do tend to burn up tires, see.
        https://www.quora.com/Why-do-Tesla-tires-wear-out-quicker#:~:text=Tesla%20Model%20X%20and%20S,the%20rubber%20meets%20the%20road%E2%80%A6.

        5. It is similar size to F250 etc so I agree if you can fit these you can fit the cyber truck.
        6.A 2x larger battery will take longer to charge, if not 2x longer. It depends on charger capacity.
        7. “sail panels on current pickups”? Look at F150, behind cab drops off to bed-side level.
        8.I’m not sure economics of higher material cost vs lower capital cost, my point is that the paint-shop savings are not free.
        9. I seriously doubt body shops will take a sheet of stainless, scribe it, bend it to custom fit parts. The cyber truck looks simple but it is not something you can do DIY and look good.

        If you want to see an electric truck optimized for function rather than style, look at the bollinger electric truck.

        BTW I’ve driven a model-S and liked it, amazing car. That said Tesla does some dumb stuff – goes with the territory I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      8. Conventional automotive body shop costs big money. Transfer presses, dies, all big money – all purchased up-front. At a conventional OEM, the investment is charged off against vehicles produced during the life of the equipment.

      Your $700 material premium estimate *might* be a relative bargain compared to the cost of a body shop and a paint shop.

      [Emissions are a huge consideration with paint shops.]

  • avatar
    la834

    Weird-looking cars and novelty cars have a shelf life of about two years before nearly everyone who wants one has one; after that its sales plunge. AMC Pacer a good example, as well as certain oddball SUVs and crossovers.

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