Yunmin Lee / Edge columnist
Recently Tesla, Elon Musk’s automobile company, revealed its first electric truck – the Cybertruck. The day it was revealed, Tesla’s stock prices dropped 6%. Controversies arose throughout, arguing the practicality and the visual aesthetics of the truck. Tesla is known for its high-quality, luxury vehicles – so what happened here?
First problem is the flamboyant, retro-futuristic design. The Cybertruck features very sharp, geometric edges, with no rearview mirrors, its taillights assembled on the tailgate, and a metallic colour that reminds one of a large, stainless steel block are only some of the problems. This bold design is literally outdated to modern tastes.
Retro Futurism is a depiction of the future painted by people of the past. Musk, following the reveal of the truck, tweeted that the truck was inspired by a 1977 James Bond Lotus Espirit. The idea of retro-futuristic nostalgia is indeed a romantic ideology, but the problem with it is that it is drastically different from what it was trying to guess – the present day.
Current pickup trucks and large cars look absolutely nothing like the Cybertruck. As irrational as it may sound, a single item that stands out drastically compared to all other competition causes not only consumers but the general public to mentally reject the item.
Any type of change can go against the neural pathways that have become automatic to humans. An industry as competitive as the automobile sector has companies continually struggling to create a car that satisfies both visual aesthetics and functionality.
Attempting to break those moulds with a shocking design seems bold, but it is reckless, dividing consumers of Tesla into conflict, leading to an economic loss as shown in the 6% drop in stock prices.).
Another point is that the some of the Cybertruck’s features are impractical. Some are actually illegal.
The Cybertruck has a spec of 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, enough to pass by a class 3 certification. It dodged some crash test rules, but it lacks door mirrors and a proper set of tail lights, which are requirements for trucks. That’s not a trend, that’s a law.
Tesla’s solution in adding a second set of lights that’s visible when the tailgate is open is clever, but it’s still impractical and another set of changes users will have to face that may have safety-related consequences.
The supposed “amour glass” of the Cybertruck’s windows were shattered upon a strength demonstration that did not go as planned. Musk later tweeted that the same prototype had already withstood a hammer to its window prior to the public test, and had held up very well. That does not explain why the back window also shattered.
Tesla’s claims on its revolutionary technology and features in the Cybertruck and others are sometimes too good to be true. What is known is that not all of Musk’s claims are proven to be true and that the Cybertruck specifically does not have “bulletproof” glass.
Even with the flashy specs the truck carries, none of those are likely to be useful to daily pickup truck drivers. Users of the Ford-150, Cybertruck’s biggest competitor, barely ever tow or do any serious off-road expeditions. Hauling and commuting are the two major usages they expect their trucks to be able to do, which the Cybertruck fails to do.
In short, it is not that the Cybertruck is a failed car. It is the fact that the Cybertruck is not a practical truck that meets the daily needs of truck drivers while being too strong of an aesthetic statement, causing unnecessary conflict that leads to economic loss.