He’s Behind You!

Great news everyone; it’s pantomime season and who better to kick off this most joyous of entertainments than Tesla?

The Cybertruck desperately seeking the stage exit. (c) Tesla

I’m sorry to sound rather curmudgeonly. I actually like pantomime. It’s as much for the adults as the kids with a little innuendo, some (not so) subtle jokes and plenty of genuine laughs. As for the season, well, the curmudgeon levels within me-rise. As age creeps ever on I see less appeal in Christmas and more irritation.

All through the year, we get dragged into things we don’t wish to deal with yet somehow in December, everything has to be completed before the 25th, as though the world may stop turning. Which to Cap’n Hook, it will do. Sorry kids.

I also have to admit I’m a dinosaur to the modern world. Apps pass me by. Facebook has no clue as to what my lunch was. Tweets have never been aired. Is Instagram an electrical supplier? Of course I use the internet; Duck Duck Go (thanks to DTW involvement), You Tube, Apple products, as these days its harder not to. But they’re a means to an end (usually sourcing DTW articles) for information, recreation and to hasten the demise of the High Street by internet shopping.

Thus my idle browsing one evening when slumber couldn’t be induced and with no intention of being Cyber Monday-ed, I found this. Oh my.

My knowledge of Elon Musk is somewhat lacking. I know he invented PayPal. I understand he launched a car into space and wants us to go to the planet Mars for our children’s children holidays. He clearly has more money than I have sense. Which isn’t hard to emulate.

But the Tesla Cybertruck launch wasn’t simply borderline trashy pantomime. It was sadly compelling watching but in a teeth-clenching, pulse numbing, wholly theatrical way. Was the producer paid in gold coins? Did a crocodile leap up and remove his (or her) hand? And as for the glass slipper not fitting…

The truck itself, whilst I am guessing will not see production exactly as seen on the stage, actually isn’t too bad. To these eyes it possesses a look that suggests it’s the major new full size Mattel (c) Hot Wheels, to be in the catalogue shortly and soon to be best seller. TC has the aggressive stance, necessary for today’s market. Drawn using a protractor and metal rule; no shapely flourish nor remote chance of a curve here. Other than the chunky tyred wheels, obviously. 

Mr Musk stated the excellent Ridley Scott film Blade Runner was used as a thought process in TC’s design. Well, it would hardly be Smee, would it? Again, I can see the logic: to a point. That film had hover cars – for the life of me surely this vehicle cannot fly. Aside from the truck being made of Stainless Steel, can Elon Musk really perform magic? Or can it climb that giant beanstalk? Blade Runner also contained replicants, a human/robotic hybrid creature, built to do life’s more dangerous or menial tasks – perhaps that’s Tesla’s market? 

To the truck’s weight again; TC makes a Bentley or Maybach look svelte. Ten thousand pounds or near as makes no difference, 4,500Kg. That’s some heft to haul some air about. For apart from the real industrial users, how many pick up trucks do you see shifting anything but air? As a lifestyle vehicle, TC could well be one of The Ugly Sisters. And with that girth aboard would surely shorten any kind of range.

One very fine attribute to stainless steel would be the vehicles patina with age. Dents wouldn’t rust, weathering might enhance the looks and at the end of TC’s life, you could make a new hook for your hand. Or melt it down to make silver-like coins. Apparently a You Tuber of note, Supercar Blondie thought it looked “nice, painted silver.” Another internet sensation, one Marques Brownlee already has an order placed. So, I’ve heard, has Peter Pan. Wendy is undecided. John Z DeLorean will be livid; his motor no longer the steel-eyed wonder.

Dick Whittington’s new wheels, London bound. That’s one large cat box. (c) Tesla

For me, the crowning glories were the farcical vandalism of current top selling real life truck, the Ford F-150’s door, compared to TC’s. The trucks designer, Frank Von Holzhausen (wasn’t he The Prince in Cinderella? Or the bad guy in Dick Whittington?) picks up a striking hammer and positively knocks the Fords door into the middle of next week. He then demonstrates TC’s strength by showing the hammer to the door, barely touching it. 

Onto the glass which has military and space grade strength; that is until the lost boys are let loose with ball bearings and smash the living daylights out of it. He’s behind you! And if behind that window, now requiring hospitalisation. Which Von Holzhausen might need now. I don’t think his boss was too keen on the outcomes of the glass incident. Cinders won’t be going to the ball, methinks.

Come the end of the performance, Mr Musk thanks everyone, reads out names and waves to some children in the audience, throws out sweets and finishes on a song. Tinsel and fake snow fall from above. I appear to have entered Neverland, readers, for surely none of this actually happened? Oh yes and it’ll cost $40,000. 

Next year I hear Mr Musk is playing the Window Twanky. I’m buying tickets right now with some magic beans I’ve found. Right, off to bed in my dinosaur print pyjamas.

Author: Andrew Miles

Beyond hope there lie dreams; after those, custard creams?

30 thoughts on “He’s Behind You!”

  1. Very interesting perspective. I have also grown pessimistic towards Christmas with age. The proportions of the Cyber truck are caricatur-esque enough to justify its Blade Runner inspiration. I do not like it one bit. Not being a fan of trucks in general, I will reserve the right to live with a Range-Rover instead.

  2. Aggressive, ugly and dystopian. Protect the occupants and to hell with everyone else. Why not mount a machine gun on the top of it and call it a Humvee?

    If this the future, then I’m not unhappy to be 2/3 of the way along my journey to oblivion.

    1. Agreed Daniel.

      There is a disconnect between Tesla’s output to date and this Cybertruck. Tesla has, disingenuously or not, presented itself as the friendly big tech operator in the automotive world – emission-free propulsion, ‘Easter eggs’ and generally friendly, simplified design. The message is: ‘The future will be ok. Aspire to a home in the bay area and a guilt-free existence.’

      Cybertruck’s message is: ‘The future will be hell. Get yourself a compound in Montana and work out how to be self sufficient. Patrol the border of your property in this truck and shoot anything that moves.’

      Aside from the aggressive aesthetic, it looks amateurish. I can’t believe the driver’s sight lines won’t be compromised by that ludicrously fast windscreen.

    2. I was also happy to see the launch descend into farce when the “unbreakable” glass side windows smashed on the first blow with a lump hammer.

      Perhaps Mr Musk has been hitting the weed a bit hard lately?

    3. Elon Musk is famously erratic, but I am not one of those haterz who is willing him to fail. I mean, I find his rantings about Mars to be ludicrous, but – back on familiar roads – the Model 3 is a highly accomplished and impressive piece of kit.

      DtW has been focused recently on the jolt that Lexus gave to the traditional luxury car makers, and Tesla will be lauded for the jolt it gave to the entire industry. Without them, would the established companies really be embracing electrification quite so whole-heartedly?

      This Cybertruck though… sheesh. It’s awful. I would suggest that Tesla has, in turn, been taken aback by Rivian, and become guilty of over-thinking and under-delivering.

      ‘Hey guys… instead of developing a regular EV truck, how about an armoured truck that looks really nasty? Wouldn’t that be cool?’

      ‘Er no Mr Musk, it would not be cool.’

  3. I’ve written most of what I have to say regarding the despicable CyberTruck elsewhere and wouldn’t want to repeat myself.

    Another point that deserves mention though is the sheer cultural obliviousness/ignorance the Blade Runner references betrays. For that movie was the prototype of modern movie dystopian visions – a glimpse of a future that must be avoided. A cautionary tale.

    To reduce Blade Runner to ‘cool’ neon-lit mega city vistas is a superficial, simplistic view that simply beggars belief. Have the people that chose this ‘theme’ actually seen the film at all? Do they realise that Eldon Tyrell – the rather mad plutocrat living literally in a higher plane than the great unwashed – probably started his career as a devoted/obsessive tinkerer/nerd/’entrepreneur’ and could, without having to stretch one’s imagination that much, be seen as an unflattering take on Mr Musk? Do they understand that the world so brilliantly despited in the movie has truly gone to hell?

    If the people in charge of this operation had any kind of concern for even the most obvious of subtexts, they’d have used Spiek Jonze’s Her instead. But, yeah, no cool neon lights, right?

    1. Christopher has eloquently summed up most of what is wrong with the truck. My only additional insight is to question the decision to make it look at 2nd year BA concept car. There´s a reason vehicle design matures from the sketch to the full scale final form. What looks striking as 3cm doodle does not work at 5m. It´s crude and devoid of nuances. There is no surplus of meaning inherent in the shapes. It´s reactive.

    2. It’s like Wall Street. Oliver Stone was reportedly very distressed that the villainous Gordon Gekko became such a culturally admired figure.

      I guess it is almost redundant to point out that this vehicle has poor 3/4 visibility in addition to it’s many other deficiencies.

      In the pickup market there is a need for multiple cargo weight capacities, towing capacities, bed lengths as well as cabin lengths. Doing the cab and box as a unit makes that much harder, even if this thing has a frame, which I doubt.

    3. A few more observations on this nonsense of a vehicle:

      -front crash design, especially the narrow offset crash, is going to be a major challenge. The front is shorter with less crush space, and the offset crash has the huge weight of this pigmobile all on the outer 20 percent on one side. On the Ford F series, for the offset crash, the aluminum upper rail (apron tube) couldn’t hold the weight of the F250 and F350 and Ford had to go to high strength steel. This slug is thousands of pounds more than even an F350, with less crush space.

      -panel repair for crash. Damaged stainless panels are going to be replace only – like aluminum. Also like aluminum, stainless body shop tools can only be used on stainless to avoid cross contamination (and, ideally, a physically separate facility for each metal). Unlike aluminum there is no existing infrastructure of body shops working on stainless. So repair and insurance costs on this lardwagon are going to be thru the roof.

      The $50K starting price is obviously a lie as well. Conventional trucks weighing less than this without the extra cost of the batteries and electric drive, and without the extra costs of stainless, and the lower costs of conventional truck body construction (not to mention decades of experience in reducing production costs, and production in low cost areas than the Bay Area), those conventional trucks sell for more than $50K and they don’t have thousand of additional pounds of higher cost material.

  4. Am I the only one that “gets” this truck? Or is it only because I’m the demographic this truck is tailored for? I think this is one of those cases where Elon Musk’s level of genius is truly seen, he’s so far ahead of the game people actually thinks he’s truly lost it. Think about it, while every other truck or car looks the same this looks like no other. He’s truly broken the mould for conventional design choices, and he’s all the better for it. And they will sell every one they can make. They have already gotten about a hundred and fifty thousand pre paid deposits for it. I would buy one if I had the money to spare. This is truly the biggest thing that has happened in car biz for the last thirty or fifty years. This is the future, whether you like it or not.

  5. I think Richard has been very generous in classifying this design as a second year BA concept car, which implies an adult has drawn it; for me at a first look it was the drawing of a five years old child lacking drawing gifts, but at a second look it was not red, so I understood it was real.
    However it would appear that younger people appreciate it: Ingvar, you like it but you did not give any reasons apart from Musk being a genius, is it therefore only a matter of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, i.e. just different aesthetic judgement structures?

    As a theory, nobody thought the whole thing could just be a gigantic joke? Just to see the reactions of the public and calculate accordingly, that unbreakable glass breaking made me think about this….if they really got 150.000 pre-paid cars, something I do not question, maybe the operation succeeded, at 50.000 $ each it makes 7.5 billions $, something I understand Mr. Musk may need badly, if we are led to believe this March 2019 article:

    “The company has taken on more debt and has a $566 million bill to pay in November”

    https://www.businessinsider.com/teslas-financial-problems-return-2019-2019-3?IR=T

    Apparently there has been a temporal, and possibly coincidental, superposition between truck launch and that huge bill payment.

  6. That CyberTruck is truly awful. I was drawing better designs when I was 8 and I’m nearly 61 now! And the farce of the glass demo, well words fail me. Great article though 👍🏻

  7. First I was like “It’s a joke”
    Then I was like “It’s bold and crude”
    But the more I look at it the more there is to admire.

    It’s stripped away so much of the visual vernacular of ‘truck-ness’ that hasn’t changed since the 50s and truly reinvented it, doubling down on angles that even Guigaro would find sharp.

    If you trace the shape of its ‘hull’ from a profile photo, you’ll find a lot of the lines are more subtle than they first appear – they aren’t all straight, many actually being subtle curves, and there’s some very interesting things going on with the proportions.

    Yes – I believe they will have to blunt some of the sharps for type approval /homologation in some markets (or perhaps alternatively- they won’t compromise at all and just won’t sell it those places).

    I don’t like the idea of a vehicle as an armoured car, so couldn’t give too hoots about armored glass or the over-engineering of the brake-bent stainless. And it does look a bit like that. But it’s brave. It’s set the world alight talking about the company and is clearly going to be a halo product if it genuinely reaches production with only minimal changes like wheel rims that don’t foul the tyres, tie-downs in the bed that won’t shred your ropes and of course things like addition of door mirrors, roof lights (american DOT specs several orange lights on roof on trucks) etc etc.

    I should hate this, and in my first moment did.
    But the more I look the more interesting a proposition it gets.

  8. Hi Andrew,

    Tesla’s chief designer is Franz von Holzhausen , not Frank.

    Disagree with most comments here, apart from huwgwilliam.

    I found the design a bit in one’s face to begin with.

    But huw is correct. Truck and pickup design is rubbish, it’s even more conservative than car design. And don’t get me me started on explosion powered death machines (aka the internal combustion engine…attrib. E. Musk).

    Polarising? Yes, and almost certainly deliberately.

    But we need a bonnet!

    Why?

    Er…for an engine.

    What engine?

    And I read in autocraply yesterday or whenever that certain car manufacturers are still trying to further “refine” the internal combustion engine.

    Bring on the change.

    1. No bonnet needed.

      Maybe you can explain to us how the TeslaPig is going to pass this crash test with no front crush space and 7500+ lbs in weight.

    2. this is what happens when the weight of the vehicle is more than the front structure can decelerate without crushing the passenger cabin.

      TEslaPig, 2500 pound battery. Earth first !

  9. Nine thousand pounds of crushing uselessness that has to be accelerated and cornered; ponderous weight on a mere four wheels and squashed tyres. A flat front to squash pedestrians like gnats and minimal crash crush space. Not much energy saving going on here. Giant batteries and 3 mm stainless panels weigh a lot, while the interior looks as cosy as a metal shed. The family across the road from me has two F150s and an Escape (Kuga). They’re a Ford family, we all live in the country, have had two long power outages in the last week due to severe weather, and what? This thing is going to replace an F150 snow plow? Not a hope, it wouldn’t last 20 minutes even if you managed to hang the plow on it somehow on the “exoskeleton”, and good luck being able to charge it when the power’s off, anyway. A 3 kW Honda generator will bust a gut for over a day trying to charge it up. City people have no clue when they attempt to foist off stuff like this on the rurals while dubiously claiming green-ness.

    Cybertruck’s so bad, not even the strongest criticisms including Herr Butts’at Auto Diktat have truly plumbed the horror of this thing being visited upon us. A typical toaster looks more professionally designed, and they’re electric too.

  10. Lots of Tesla haters here; sniffing and burbling away and getting high on dwindling dinosaur fuel.

    I bow to nobody on God’s green (currently, anyway) earth in my long standing and single-minded petrolheadism (the cars I’ve seen; the cars I’ve owned and driven), but the times they definitely are a’changing. Like it or not.

    Rage against the dying of the light. I get that. I really do. Get ready to roll with it though, or you’ll get crushed under the roll. All 3+tonnes of it…;)

    1. Dear Mr. McNeil. Here at Driven to Write, we respect one another’s opinions, even if we disagree profoundly with them. Now I’m sure it’s unintentional on your part, but by casually dismissing the dissenting views on these pages as being motivated simply by hatred of Mr. Musk and all who sail in him comes across not only as lazy but more so as evasive.

      Tesla and by consequence Mr E. Musk deserves great credit for shaking a complacent industry out of its lethargy. This is beyond argument. It does not however, convey a monopoly on the concept of the electric motor vehicle upon him. The times are definitely changing. But they will be driven by more than simply the denizens of Palo Alto, CA.

    2. I was in a geology class in 1983, where we were assured that proven reserves of oil would be exhausted by the mid-1990s, and that oil prices were going to skyrocket. Of course, “everybody knew it”. And all the “experts” agreed.

      By 1986 oil prices were under eight dollars per barrel.

      There is a whole book to be written about automobile industry “expert” forecasts and “everybody knows” conventional wisdom that turned out to be 180 degrees wrong. Going right back to the dawn of the industry.

      How do you think early 1929 “expert” forecasts of the future of the auto industry held up ?

      We will see how forecasts of “the future is autonomous and electric” holds up to reality.

      WRT Elon Musk, I think he is an arrogant, drug addled jackass, but any engineering accomplishment is separate from moral conduct or decent behavior – same as for artistic achievement.

    3. Mr McNeil,

      criticism isn’t the same as hatred.

      Then again, your enchanting ‘Get ready to roll with it though, or you’ll get crushed under the roll. All 3+tonnes of it…;)’ analogy has more than a whiff of a ‘hell’n damnation’ sermon to it. Do you wish everybody holding views differing from your own to be crushed to death by tons of stainless steel (purely metaphorically speaking, of course)?

      I for one don’t welcome you around here. Goodbye.

  11. Angel Marten,
    The front crush space you illustrate with crash photos is misleading since that solid lump of engine/gearbox and other components are driven back into the passengers reducing the percieved effectiveness of frontal length.
    The Tesla appears to have an even shorter front because of where the windscreen terminates however driver and passengers sit well back, a bit like the current BMW i3.
    We will never have an ideal safety solution with such varied designs mixing together however moving the mass of a front engine to a battery at floor level with compact drive motor between rear wheels ( better still wheel motors) will produce more consistent safety results than we have at present.

    1. Watch the Ram crash video again. Watch the overhead. The offset crash misses the engine and the main frame structure. The Tesla cabin ends behind the front wheel. The front crash structure of the TSLA is shorter and has several thousand extra pounds to react.

      Adding several thousand pounds to vehicles as heavy as 3500 series pickups will never “produce more consistent safety results than we have at present.”

      Extra Pounds are extra pounds and they have to be deaccelerated by the body structure involved in the offset crash. There is no change in the physics of crashes due to the wokeness of the extra weight.

  12. I shall not join the argument but thought the article was very interesting and well put together. Bring on Pantomime season…

  13. “One very fine attribute to stainless steel would be the vehicles patina with age.”

    Hi Andrew Miles,

    Your sentence above reminded me of the Peugeot Onyx concept-car. It was built partly with copper and Peugeot always intended to let it go green. Here’s the before and after pictures (a few years have passed between the two)

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