Blind Passion, Tesla’s Cybertruck, and Elon’s Engineering Quandary

Questioned by critics from the start, Elon Musk is expected to finally deliver the production version of the controversial electric truck this month.

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Editor

November 17, 2023

In about two weeks, Tesla is scheduled to roll out the first production Cybertruck models for its waiting buyers. Critical chatter continues in the meantime, often to poke fun at the electric truck’s design and its offroad capabilities or lack thereof.

Meant to showcase innovation and a tough-as-nails image, the Cybertruck’s journey from a visibly flawed prototype through a delayed production is finally approaching its release date.

Some might praise Elon Musk for persisting in response to critics of the Cybertruck, but there is also something to be said about knowing when to rethink a troubled concept.

Tesla engineers probably made every effort to realize Musk’s vision, but his insistence on stainless steel, sharply angled body panels was far from engineering- or production-friendly.

So far, the Cybertruck has yet to silence its decriers.

A video shared recently on social media shows a preproduction model Cybertruck struggle a bit driving up a “steep dirt hill,” which prompted rival truck makers Ford and Rivian to show how their products handled the same offroad challenge. In short, it was not the best look for the Cybertruck.

Naysayers seem to make a sport of dogpiling on Tesla’s Cybertruck, but some advocates see some merits in the forthcoming electric truck.

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For example, the designer of the DeLorean gave Tesla some praise for the Cybertruck’s provocative design and predicted the truck would likely be a success.

The Cybertruck, whether hated or loved, stirs conversation with a design that seemed questionable from the start.

At the Cybertruck’s unveiling in 2019, Elon Musk tried to hype the toughness of the vehicle, but its supposedly indestructible armored glass shattered during the onstage demonstration. This October, Tesla showed off images to display the Cybertruck’s bullet resistant capabilities -- allegedly they shot the side of it with a Tommy gun.

Despite continued attempts to flex the Cybertruck’s alleged prowess, social media continues to call out its perceived faults.

The supposed bulletproof aspect of the electric truck drew its share of doubters who questioned its necessity and real-world effectiveness. Moreover, the angular design of the Cybertruck, for instance, has been decried because of the difficulty it presents for manufacturing. Motortrend covered the troubled, delayed development of the Cybertruck from the beginning and the release of the final product is expected to arrive on a sour note.

Musk recently tried to imply the Cybertruck fit the aesthetic of the “Blade Runner” movies, but the truck looks more akin to the Landmaster vehicle in “Damnation Alley,” a post-apocalyptic movie from 1977.

Related:Elon Musk’s ChatGPT Rival Grok Enters AI Fray

This episode of DOS Won’t Hunt takes a look at the clash of vision versus engineering realities when a product is not delivering as expected.

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About the Author(s)

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth

Senior Editor

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth covers tech policy, including ethics, privacy, legislation, and risk; fintech; code strategy; and cloud & edge computing for InformationWeek. He has been a journalist for more than 25 years, reporting on business and technology first in New Jersey, then covering the New York tech startup community, and later as a freelancer for such outlets as TheStreet, Investopedia, and Street Fight. Follow him on Twitter: @jpruth.

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