You probably know that Elon Musk introduced Tesla's new Cybertruck, or at least a prototype of it, at a high-profile event on Thursday. And that the vehicle didn't perform as planned. When Tesla's head of design threw metal balls at the window, supposedly to demonstrate their toughness, they shattered instead. Now Musk has finally explained what went wrong.
Many, including my Inc.com colleague Jason Aten assumed that the mishap resulted from poor preparation on Musk's part. They figured he should have tested the windows with the metal balls in private before doing it onstage, but didn't.
That's a perfectly reasonable assumption, but apparently it isn't true. Musk explained on Twitter (his preferred communication medium) that design chief Franz von Holzhausen actually had tested the windows by throwing metal balls at them ahead of the demo and the balls bounced off harmlessly, as they were supposed to do. Just in case you thought he was fibbing, he posted video to prove it.
Franz throws steel ball at Cybertruck window right before launch. Guess we have some improvements to make before production haha. pic.twitter.com/eB0o4tlPoz-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 23, 2019
It must have been a frustrating moment when the windows broke during the demo--Musk was apparently heard muttering profanity under his breath. But at least by the time he tweeted about it on Friday evening, he'd regained his composure enough to joke about it. Then on Sunday, he offered up an explanation of what went wrong.
Yup. Sledgehammer impact on door cracked base of glass, which is why steel ball didn't bounce off. Should have done steel ball on window, *then* sledgehammer the door. Next time ...-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 25, 2019
This explanation would seem to make sense--except that the glass in both the front window and the back window broke, and von Holzhausen had only hit the front door with the sledgehammer. Many on Twitter have flagged this discrepency and Musk has yet to respond.
In any case, it's clear that the EV-buying public isn't all that perturbed by the mishap--according to Musk, 200,000 people have pre-ordered the Cybertruck. That doesn't mean that all 200,000 will actually buy the truck. The pre-order isn't much of a commitment--it only costs $100 which can be refunded at any time, and you can do it online in just a couple of minutes. But if you do the math, those pre-orders constitute a $20 million cash infusion for Tesla. Though the company isn't as strapped for cash as it sometimes has been in the past, that extra $20 million is probably very handy.
The broken windows aren't the only part of the Cybertruck demo that's been called into question. Musk also showed video of the Cybertruck in a tug-of-war with a Ford F150 pickup truck, the best-selling vehicle in America. The Cybertruck wins easily. But Musk also posted the video to Twitter, which gave people a better look at it. As Motor1.com points out, you can see the rear tires on the Ford truck spinning, suggesting that it's a rear-wheel-drive vehicle. So is the low-end Cybertruck. But the model that pulls the Ford appears to be a higher-end all-wheel-drive Cybertruck.
See for yourself:
As many people have noted both on and off social media, there's nothing fair about a tug-of-war between a vehicle that has all wheel drive and one that has rear wheel drive only. Some people want a do-over with more comparable vehicles, and some of those people work at Ford:
Musk's three-word answer to this was "Bring it on," and he later tweeted that the two companies would try to hold a second, presumably fairer tug-of-war sometime next week. Stay tuned.