Winner #1: Elon Musk
In the great Steve Jobs-ian tradition of product launches, Elon Musk had a good night last night. It doesn't matter that half of everyone who's seen the Tesla Cybertruck (maybe more?) think it beats the Pontiac Aztek for the title of Ugliest Vehicle Ever Made. It doesn't even matter that his demonstration of the truck's glass strength went awry. What matters is that he executed his singular vision of an all-electric pickup truck and presented it to the world, and that the day after, it's all anyone can talk about.
Winner #2: Rivian
That other all-electric automaker, Rivian, also had a good night last night. Despite not debuting a new vehicle or actually having anything to sell yet, Rivian's upcoming R1T electric truck and R1S electric SUV are looking pretty good right now to anyone who threw up a little in their mouth last night when the Cybertruck drove on stage. There are people who like the idea of an electric pickup truck, but won't buy something they think looks terrible. The Rivian R1T's traditionally handsome design should appeal to them even more now. All Rivian has to do is get the truck to market.
Winner #3: ATV Manufacturers
The biggest surprise of last night's reveal was the Cyberquad, an electric ATV designed specifically for the Cybertruck that fits snuggly in its bed and can charge off the truck's batteries. Tesla said it will sell the Cyberquad alongside the Cybertruck, but ATV manufacturers should be rejoicing their industry got an Elon-sized shot in the arm last night. Their product category became the center of attention during a Tesla livestream, and if the Cyberquad fits in the truck's bed, chances are their ATVs do too. The Cybertruck's tailgate even has a built in ramp for ATVs to drive up into the bed on. These manufacturers should get to work on designing all-electric Cyberquad competitors; chances are Cybertruck owners won't want to haul something gas-powered in their pickup.
Winner #5: EV Enthusiasts
Looks aside, the Tesla Cybertruck is a big step forward in electric vehicle technology. If Musk and his team deliver on the specs promised, it will be the first production EV capable of traveling a bladder-busting 500 miles per charge. That alone should make folks looking forward to an all-electric future happy, as limited range has been one of the most effective arguments against the viability of EVs as practical everyday transportation.
As for the rest of the truck's specs, they're also impressive. For instance, the tri-motor AWD model can tow more than 14,000 pounds and reach 60 miles per hour in 2.9 seconds. Those numbers just became a new benchmark that other electric pickup truck manufacturers may try to match or beat, which, again, is great news for people who want to see the rate of adoption for electric vehicles increase.
Loser #1: Tesla's Glass Department
In the annals of product launches, Tesla's failed demonstration of the Cybertruck's glass strength will go down in history alongside the time Bill Gates got the Blue Screen of Death while launching Windows 98. It was embarrassing. Musk claimed they had been throwing things at the windows all day, like wrenches, and they held up fine. Maybe they should've thrown the thing they were going to use in the demonstration. What's worse is that Musk had to stand up there delivering the rest of the presentation with his truck's two shattered windows as a backdrop. We can't imagine that Musk is a forgiving boss, so our hearts go out to everyone on Team Glass today.
Loser #2: U.S. Truck Manufacturers
Executives at U.S. truck manufacturers probably had a good laugh at Tesla's expense last night – the truck's design is bonkers for a production vehicle and the schadenfreude at Elon's failed glass strength demonstration must surely have tasted sweet. Today, though, they're all waking up to a world in which Elon Musk has entered their air space. He's thrown down an electric gauntlet and said, "Here, beat that." They may be laughing at the truck's looks, but they're not laughing at its ability to tow 14,000 pounds. They're not laughing at its sub-$40,000 starting price. They're not laughing at its 500-mile range. And they're not laughing at the fact they somehow have to develop a competitor to the Cybertruck that doesn't threaten sales of their own money-printing gas-powered pickups. It's a brave new world the day after this Cybertruck reveal, and for U.S. truck manufacturers, it's a little more uncertain.
Loser #3: Franz von Holzhausen
Franz von Holzhausen isn't a loser per se, but he didn't have a very good night last night. For one, he's the guy who shattered the Cybertruck's windows with a metal ball. More significant, though, is the fact that, as head of design at Tesla, his team's latest vehicle doesn't seem to be going over well with the masses.
The Cybertruck's all-angles appearance is unlike anything we've seen on a production vehicle – in fact, we're not even sure some of it is legal in the United States, in regards to regulations about things like headlight size and placement, sideview mirrors, etc. It's so out there we think most people are just having a hard time imagining ever wanting something that looks like that parked in their driveway.
Maybe von Holzhausen and his team was just executing Musk's vision for a truck the CEO has wanted to build ever since seeing Blade Runner in the theaters. Regardless, his name's now attached to the design, and we're not sure this is one he'll want to mention on his resume in the future.
Loser #4: Ford Mustang Mach-E
Poor Ford. The automaker had dominated the conversation this week after its debut on Sunday of the Mustang Mach-E, an all-electric crossover that's adopted Ford's pony car mantle to do battle with the Tesla Model Y. The Mach-E had a good four news cycles of coverage to itself that even lasted through a number of other interesting vehicle debuts at the L.A. Auto Show. In fact, we thought nothing could outdo the furious controversy caused by Ford deciding to use the Mustang name on a crossover. And then Elon said, "Hold my beer."
None of this takes away from the fact the Mach-E is a genuinely great effort by Ford to go toe-to-toe with Tesla in the EV marketplace, or that the furor of some Mustang enthusiasts over the car's name being used this way is real and won't go away because everyone's distracted. We think Ford, though, would've enjoyed a few more news cycles of the Mach-E being on everyone's mind before Tesla so effectively dropped a Cybertruck-sized bomb on the collective mindshare.
Loser #5: Tesla Enthusiasts
Being a fanboy can be hard sometimes, and Tesla doesn't make it easy. If the company isn't missing launch targets or delivering vehicles with panel gaps you could drive a Fiat through, it's debuting a pickup truck with a design only its mother (or in this case, father) could love.
Every devoted Tesla fan is asking him or herself right now, "Do I really like the Cybertruck's design, or am I obligated to defend it because I like the company so much?" Tesla has asked a lot of its fervent supporters, but asking them to argue the Cybertruck's beauty is a little unfair. Good luck, Tesla Nation.
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