Home » Get Ready, Haters: The Era Of The Tesla Cybertruck Has Arrived (Uh, Sorta)

Get Ready, Haters: The Era Of The Tesla Cybertruck Has Arrived (Uh, Sorta)

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(BLASTS DANCE HALL AIR HORN) The day we’ve been waiting for has arrived! Time to get on Twitter, which you pay for every month, and start hyping up the impending death of Ford and Chevrolet because the first Tesla Cybertruck has rolled off the assembly line in Austin, Texas. But… is this destined to be the Ford-killer Tesla fans want it to be, or a limited-volume novelty? 

That leads off today’s morning news roundup, plus some interesting details about the “Detroit of Asia”; more on the weird EV market; and some more unfortunate Ford-quality news. It’ll give you plenty to think about; trust me.

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Will The Cybertruck Be The Model Y, Or The Model X’s Falcon Doors?

0x0 Cybertruck 06
Photo credit: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

By now, it’s impossible to count the number of times Tesla has proven its critics wrong (yes, including your humble author, who’s big enough to admit when that happens.) This company has a weird way of just figuring things out, or getting up and hitting back twice as hard when it’s knocked down. It’s simply not to be underestimated, and I mean that sincerely and as someone who’s the furthest thing from being a die-hard Elon Musk true-believer.

But there’s also been plenty of times when Tesla’s flown too close to the sun—usually when it tries to do something cool or experimental or unproven, and it ends being a boondoggle at some point. Maybe the best example I can think of is the Model X’s Falcon Doors. Musk wanted them to be like that because he thought they looked rad, but they ended up being costly to build, costly to operate and costly to repair. He’s even said he wouldn’t do that again. Or an even harsher example is when it thought it could automate humans out of the process of making the Model 3, only to realize that “building the machine that makes the machine” is much tougher than anticipated. Or Tesla’s contentious claims around self-driving technology.

So the question is, which way will the Cybertruck go? The “first” “production” Cybertruck rolled off the assembly line in Texas this weekend:

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And already we can at least see it has side mirrors, unlike the concept photos you see in the rest of this post. But how successful and capable of volume sales will it really be?

I think that if the Cybertruck had a more “standard” looking body made of aluminum and steel—think a Model Y or Model S, but in truck form—it’d be worthy of making Ford executives quake in their boots. But even Musk has tempered expectations around the Cybertruck by admitting that its stainless-steel body and unique angles have been extremely difficult to build—and he’s warned his customers that “real” mass production won’t actually start until next year.

Here are some recent takes on why this thing’s such a challenge. The WSJ, this weekend:

Musk has warned that producing new vehicles, such as the Cybertruck, would dent the company’s growth. Several plans have been put on hold, he said, as Tesla focuses on scaling output. Some of these shelved programs include building a semitrailer truck and an affordable, $25,000 EV, Musk has said.

Wired, on the “alpha” build of the Cybertruck:

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In May, the German newspaper Handelsblatt began reporting on the “Tesla Files”: thousands of internal documents provided to it by a whistleblower. Among those documents was an engineering report that might give some insight into why the vehicle has taken so long to come to market. The report, dated January 25, 2022, which WIRED has examined, shows that the preproduction “alpha” version of the Cybertruck was still struggling with some basic problems with its suspension, body sealing, noise levels, handling. and braking.

[…] Handling was also a concern for the alpha Cybertruck. The report noted a number of issues, including “excessive mid-speed abruptness and chop,” “high head-toss accelerations,” and “structural shake.” It said that the truck experienced “excessive lateral jerk during low-speed maneuvering” and that it needed to address problems with steering refinement and body roll. The EV’s strafe mode, a feature that allows the wheels to turn to allow the car to “crab walk” sideways had “only basic functionality.”

And InsideEVs:

However, as Model Y handover events hosted at Giga Berlin and Giga Texas have shown last year, we shouldn’t expect Tesla to deliver more than a small number of Cybertrucks to customers – most likely Tesla insiders – at the event. Production is only beginning, and Elon Musk has warned that the Cybertruck ramp will be the most difficult and longest yet.

The executive previously said that initial Cybertruck production would start in summer 2023 and that volume production would follow in 2024, with the output expected to be limited until then. “This was a tough product to design and even tougher to build,” Musk tweeted in May.

I don’t doubt demand for the Cybertruck is there. I know plenty of people who reserved one. But I have a feeling it could be more of a low-volume, niche vehicle—like a supercar, really, a halo car—rather than something that will permanently crush the Ford F-150 like a lot of blue-check types on Twitter think it is.

And there’s nothing wrong with that! Tesla built a supercar. Good for them. I think that’s what the Cybertruck will end up being. But despite the company’s smash success this year, it still struggles with designing, ramping up and building new products and I’m not sure this stainless-steel apocalypse machine will do for them what the Model Y did.

It’s that outcome, or Tesla (and SpaceX) figure out some groundbreaking, revolutionary way to do stainless steel and the whole thing takes off like crazy. I would not completely put it past them.

Meanwhile, Ford Is The King Of Recalls

2022 Ford F 150 Lightning Alaska Bft Testing 04
Photo: Ford

Meanwhile, Ford may not be too worried about the Cybertruck, but it’s got problems of its own. It’s still working overtime to deal with quality issues that cost it a lot of money last year. And a new analysis from Automotive News indicates Ford’s had the most recalls so far in 2023:

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Through June, Ford had issued 31 recalls affecting more than 4.1 million vehicles in the U.S. In the same six-month period in 2022, Ford also topped the list, with 44 recalls covering more than 6.7 million vehicles.

Overall, the number of recalls of equipment and a broad spectrum of vehicle types — light vehicles, heavy trucks and recreational vehicles among them — in the first half of this year, 515, was relatively flat compared with the 519 in the same period in 2022. However, the 16.7 million recalled vehicles and equipment in the first six months of 2023 were 11 percent fewer than those recalled in the same period last year.

Of the recalls Ford issued through June, the largest involved a callback of nearly 1.3 million older model Fusion and Lincoln MKZ vehicles for rupturing front brake hoses. The smallest recall — issued in March — covered 18 F-150 Lightning electric pickups after the automaker identified a potential battery cell manufacturing defect that caused one of the vehicles to catch fire a month earlier.

Ford topped the recall list in 2022 and 2021, also. For the first half of 2023, second place went to Stellantis, followed by BMW (though its 154,717 cars recalled were dwarfed by Stellantis’ 1.7 million.)

Ford has been making aggressive moves to fix its quality issues and the surge in recalls may be a part of that:

While Ford appears to be leading in the number of recalls, Michael Brooks of the Center for Auto Safety said it’s “hard to explain” why.

“We don’t have any information to suggest that Ford’s quality and their process is any worse than any other automaker at the moment,” said Brooks, who is executive director of the consumer advocacy group. “The more recalls to us, in a way, means that they’re protecting their customers, but at the same time, it certainly could indicate a lapse in quality.”

I’ve been reading a book about how Toyota handled its unintended acceleration crisis and in the wake of that, General Motors’ ignition switch mess and the Takata airbag nightmare, you just see a lot more vehicle recalls than you did 10 or 15 years ago. There’s a few ways to look at that, right? It could be seen as being tough on defects and making sure customer problems get fixed.

On the other hand, nobody wants their car in the shop—especially when parts are in short supply these days—and it’s just not a great look. It’s a costly one for the automakers, too. You know this is a crown Ford is eager to relinquish soon.

More Data On Our Weird EV Market

Large 53016 2023ioniq6
Photo: Hyundai

I’m definitely not one of the folks sounding the death knell for EVs before they really get off the ground. As I’ve written here and elsewhere, I think adoption “slowing” in America is a symptom of too-high costs and too-scarce public charging, mostly.

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But it’s a weird market more than one in a downturn. Here’s Automotive News with more data:

New EV registrations rose by a healthy 68 percent in the January-to-May period to a record 447,514 vehicles. But about half of the increase came from market leader Tesla, the data shows.

Hot EV brands from last year — including Ford, Kia and Lucid — are now cooling as Tesla continues to sell 6 of every 10 EVs in the U.S.

Additionally, those that entered the market with some fanfare, including Cadillac and Porsche, are near the bottom of the 25 brands appearing in the latest registration data.

Overall, EVs rose to a 7 percent share of the U.S. light-vehicle market in the first five months of the year from 4.6 percent a year earlier. But analysts see tougher days ahead as consumers balk at relatively high prices and interest rates.

“EV sales records will continue to be set and EV growth will continue to outpace overall industry growth, but the days of 75 percent year-over-year growth are in the rearview mirror,” Cox said. “The hard-growth days are ahead.”

Emphasis mine there, because I like how that’s phrased. Basically, EV sales are up year-over-year, just not at the crazy rate they were for a while. Take Kia, for example; registrations of both the EV6 and Niro EV are down nearly 30% compared to last year and it’s losing overall market share.

Hyundai is doing a little better overall, in part because it’s “been more aggressive than Kia in offering customers lease deals that incorporate a $7,500 federal EV discount.” (The two companies are corporate siblings that share hardware, but they’ve very separate in product planning, marketing, sales strategies, and things like that.)

Also from that data: Nissan’s been flat due to the death of the Leaf and slow Ariya registrations; Lucid is behind yearly forecasts; Rivian’s actually doing quite well but seems constrained by production capacity as a small startup; and the Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model S are way down.

The Volkswagen Group’s a bit perplexing to me at the moment. The Taycan’s great—it’s shit-fuck-crazy fast, for lack of a better term—but when was the last time you heard anything about it? Or the Audi e-tron cars that were among the most credible early Tesla competitors? I think VW’s getting its house in order on the production and software fronts. In the meantime, it’s probably holding off on big new moves until it does.

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Also, a major winner this year? BMW, whose i4 and iX models posted a 15x increase compared to last year. Not bad, BMW. I’m getting an iX next month and am eager to tell you all about it.

The point is, it’s best to look at this market as a long-game one, with all the ups and downs you see with any new technology and the broader auto industry as a whole. I’m not going to start writing obituaries after one or two questionable quarters—not with all the battery investments happening in the U.S. alone that will eventually drive prices down.

Thailand Rises In The EV Era

Dan Freeman G4e6pcot4ps Unsplash
Photo: Dan Freeman/Unsplash

Did you know Thailand is considered “the Detroit of Asia“? I actually did not! But it makes sense. It’s Southeast Asia’s largest auto manufacturing hub, not just from car plants but suppliers, powertrain plants and more. Besides cheaper (but now very skilled) labor than other countries, it maintains steep tariffs on imported vehicles, both of which have led to a very robust local manufacturing ecosystem.

Now, not only is it becoming a giant manufacturing hub for EVs—especially from Chinese brands—demand for those cars is also skyrocketing there too. That’s also another big threat to the Japanese automakers, who have long dominated in Thailand but are now lagging on the EV front.

Here’s Bloomberg on why Thailand’s a place to watch:

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The nation has already attracted 75 billion baht ($2.2 billion) from the EV industry, led by a slew of Chinese investments from BYD Co., Great Wall Motor Co. and SAIC Motor Corp. Changan Auto Co. and GAC Aion New Energy Automobile Co. are set to soon finalize their investment plans, and Chery Automobile Co. is also in talks.

Companies investing at least 5 billion baht in EV manufacturing can be exempt from the 20% corporate tax rate for three to eight years. Additional incentives for key EV parts production can get a 50% discount on taxes for a further five years.

The next step is to lure battery makers amid stiff competition from the US and Europe, which have rolled out programs like the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act to build a domestic battery industry.

To that end, a multibillion-baht subsidy package is in the works and will be put to the new government for approval, says Narit Therdsteerasukdi, the secretary general of the Thailand Board of Investment, which oversees foreign investment into the country.

Remember, all of those Chinese automakers have global ambitions, so moves like this are just the start.

Your Turn

Where do you think the Cybertruck will net out? One on every corner like the Model Y is (depending on where you live, obviously) or destined to be Tesla’s dystopian-looking supercar?

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Marteau
Marteau
11 months ago

Someone on thenazi noticed that there is no driver door installed…

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
11 months ago

I love the picture of the worker bees surrounding the Queen.

Fuzzyweis
Fuzzyweis
11 months ago

I think the Cybertruck will be like the Hummer EV, low volume, very heavy, unwieldy for daily life, a showpiece for Aught-wood events in another 30 years for cars from the early 2000s from the Aztek to the Veyron and all the things between.

I am curious if Tesla will consider doing a Model T truck based off the Y, like Ford’s Maverick or Hyundai Santa Fe. They could share some components, it would add another model, and probably be a much bigger hit.

I know Simone Gertz already made her Truck-la from a 3 but the Y is probably the better base for it. Maybe Bishop could render us up a 4-door one of those, with crazy Falcon suicide butterfly wing doors that fly off and re-engage like Iron-Man’s armor in Iron-Man 3.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
11 months ago

Cybertruckjunk= superstupidcar

Baron Usurper
Baron Usurper
11 months ago

No new models for the foreseeable future, at least after the Cybertruck. New models means factory retoolings means lower output. Line only goes up when output goes up.

His current factories are primed to only build the current models. Best case scenario, he has to build a new assembly line just for the CT, or any other new model, in order to minimize the impact on overall production output.

Whatever happened to that semi truck they debuted?

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
11 months ago
Reply to  Baron Usurper

Musk has delayed mass production to the end of 2024…so probably 2025 or something. Recent reports suggest that there are just 36 of them out there; not exactly blowing up the trucking industry.

https://electrek.co/2023/06/14/elon-musk-updates-tesla-semi-production/

https://insideevs.com/news/672505/tesla-semi-second-recall-hints-at-low-production-numbers/

Drew
Drew
11 months ago

It’s important to remember that Tesla still very much functions like a tech startup. The hype is at least as important as the product, if not more. The point of the semi is not to really enter the trucking industry as much as to show that they could enter the industry.

If they really wanted to sell them, they’d work with truckers and trucking companies to make something that would transition them to EVs more easily. This is not designed with their needs in mind because it’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to get investors thinking about when Tesla will come out with an automated truck that will completely reshape trucking.

Buzzwords about disruption and all that.

Bork Bork
Bork Bork
11 months ago
Reply to  Drew

Just like the $25k EV. They got the line go up with the announcement and now they are quietly ditching it.

Baron Usurper
Baron Usurper
11 months ago
Reply to  Drew

I guess I just don’t understand why nobody in the press wants to talk about this.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
11 months ago

Can I throw baseballs at it yet?

Anthony Magagnoli
Anthony Magagnoli
11 months ago

Hey Patrick, what’s the book you’re reading on the Toyota unintended acceleration recall?

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
11 months ago

“the first Tesla Cybertruck has rolled off the assembly line”

The pigasus has landed.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
11 months ago

Yeah, hope it actually “rolled” over like a pig!

Pique
Pique
11 months ago

There was Henry Ford, then The Toyota Way, then Automotive Revolution III Tesla. And an EV cobbled together by a car company is different than a car built from the wheels up by a technology company. By cobble together, I mean legacy cars built on legacy assembly lines simply stuffed with already out of date batteries, motors and crappy third-party software – virtually nothing new whereas Tesla like smartphones vs BlackBerry or the bricks before, created the.smartcar, a mobile software platform, a true technological disruption, AR III which none of the incumbents can or will likely never match. Per Sandy Munro’s “innovation at the speed of thought,” Tesla, using Agile Methodologies – re Joe Justice – for software, and now hardware, Tesla’s speed of innovation is accelerating, while the incumbents are stuck with their top down command and control frightfully slow management systems. Agile flattens the management structure of old. Toyota is blatantly copying everything Tesla is doing. Hoping to have an answer by 2026. Tesla will just be that much further ahead, already having now the world’s most advanced manufacturing plants. Meanwhile, Volkswagen is meeting with China’s Alibaba to produce an EV platform. The tip of the iceberg is here, as is the future,l – already here. The Cyber, too, was reconceived, ‘rethinked’ – Tony Seba – from the wheels up built on a triangular – vs box on rails – structure that outperforms in every way. Tesla is also an engineering company hiring the world’s best engineering graduates who year after year respond to surveys thay the top two companies they want to work for are Tesla and SpaceX. Once Joe Truck Guy sees his neighbor’s Cyber’s capabilities and performance, game over. Fleet buyers, too, will be Cyber bullish.
“The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” — William Gibson
Tesla owns the future.

Rapgomi
Rapgomi
11 months ago
Reply to  Pique

What a great parody post!

Can you image that somewhere some poor stan actually thinks that?

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
11 months ago
Reply to  Pique

I loled

Bork Bork
Bork Bork
11 months ago
Reply to  Pique

This reminds me of when idiots said Ronda Rousey was a once-in-a-lifetime talent instead of someone who got demolished by every competent striker she faced.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago

As for today’s Flush, well, it just feels like Texas has two nü-Deloreans mired in marketing wank and controversy. This one’s just larger and has a more insufferable fanbase.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago

The Taycan’s great—it’s shit-fuck-crazy fast, for lack of a better term—but when was the last time you heard anything about it?

Granted, it was from reading the links in the PCA newsletter on the toilet this morning, so uh, the nerds are still nerding out to the Taycan, but OH MY GOSH LOOK AT THE TURBO GT LOOK AT IT LOOK AT IT LOOK AT IT: https://www.autoevolution.com/news/1000-hp-porsche-taycan-turbo-gt-prototype-shows-impressive-charging-curve-217831.html

GUUUUUH an 1,000-hp Taycan is going to be nuts. Porsche wants its ‘Ring record back. Also, BIG WING ON A TAYCAN! LET’S GOOOOOOO. Frickin’ heck that looks awesome.

Last edited 11 months ago by Stef Schrader
GhosnInABox
GhosnInABox
11 months ago

So an article featuring the exploits of Elon Musk positions the readers as “haters”? Good to know what side of the aisle The Autopian is on.

I wonder what cool new thing is coming out of that Zambian emerald mine.

Drew
Drew
11 months ago
Reply to  GhosnInABox

I think Patrick is the Tesla-positive counter to Torch, who realistically covers autonomous driving (which is to say, is very critical of Tesla claims of such).

Drew
Drew
11 months ago
Reply to  Patrick George

I am sorry if I came across as painting you as a fanboy. I think you and Torch are both realistic about Tesla, but you land on the positive side, at least here, talking about NACS and Superchargers, among other things. Torch lands on the negative side, mostly talking about the complexities of autonomy and such.

This site is in no danger of becoming a Tesla fan site or hate site, and the balance is good. It’s nice to have someone talking about the positive aspects of Tesla. Even if I don’t always agree with you, you present something positive without devolving into the fan talk where every “innovation” is seen as positive, no matter how much mental gymnastics it takes.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago
Reply to  GhosnInABox

I could smell the sarcasm from here on that line.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
11 months ago

Where do you think the Cybertruck will net out?”

I don’t think it will sell as well globally as the Model Y. I suspect it will sell as well as the Model 3 on a net basis globally. It will do very well in North America and the Middle East. So in these two markets, I expect it to outsell the Model 3
I expect it not to sell well in the EU due to tariffs and its size.

Also understand that they still have a order backlog for these that is absolutely huge even if only half of the deposits turn into orders. Generally speaking based on past experience, far more than half of the deposits turn into orders.

So that means for the first few years, their sales will be limited only to how many they can produce.

Marteau
Marteau
11 months ago

It can’t be sold in europe.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
11 months ago

If it sells as well as the model X I’ll eat a box of Musk’s hair plugs

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
11 months ago

Not a chance. It’s gonna be niche in NA and GCC and a complete non-starter everywhere else, except for the occasional eccentric contractor in Norway or Japan.

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
11 months ago

It didn’t occur to me when I first saw the production picture, but is everyone crowded around the truck to hide that – aside from the distinctive roof/windshield – it doesn’t look much like the promised vehicle?

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago
Reply to  PlatinumZJ

Yeeeeeeah…I forget who noted that one one of the bajillion toiletposting apps this morning, but usually the “first [model] ever!” celebratory photo shows more of the car.

Like, they’ve gotta be hiding something with that many people in the way. The optimistic read is, well, maybe they’re planning a big, official reveal of the production spec. The “wait, this is Elon’s mess we’re talking about here” read is, uh, they don’t want any more of those free loans “deposits” yanked just yet.

Last edited 11 months ago by Stef Schrader
Strangek
Strangek
11 months ago

You’re right. If Tesla built a normal looking truck on the Model 3 or Y or whatever platform, it would be a huge success. Instead, they made something preposterous which I can’t see being much more than a niche vehicle.

Fix It Again Tony
Fix It Again Tony
11 months ago

I haven’t read about any new trim on the Taycan in awhile. Doesn’t Porsche do that with all their cars by changing things a little bit and then charging another 10k for that? With no new model, no wonder their EVs are at the bottom.

Last edited 11 months ago by Fix It Again Tony
EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
11 months ago

The BMW i8 in truck format. Automobile perfectly fit for your cousin trying to start a career in vlogging. Tesla will sell a few, but I have feeling the market dies out when the clicks stop coming.

Parked, I kinda like it, not in love, but it’s a vibe. Moving, it for some reason looks way worse. Its amorphous geometry figure sitting too high on some wheels. It just sort of blends in environment like a random library on college campus.

RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
11 months ago

I really need to see one in person before I decide if I like it or hate it. Some cars don’t present well in 2D media. IMHO, the Wagoneer and Supra look better in person than in pictures.

EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
11 months ago

Idk, not a design person. But, isn’t one of the major problems with having no details is that in movement what details it has get lost. Maybe parked it looks cool. It’s like the opposite of BMWupra, which has a ton of small details that get lost in 2d, looks great moving.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
11 months ago

Looking at the roofline makes me wonder if Beldar Conehead is now back on earth, guiding his marble headed step child Elon….Works for me. (now working on the screen play.)

RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
11 months ago

I expect the Cybertruck to follow a similar sales path as the Jeep Gladiator. Awesome initial sales that slump after the early adopters buy them. The Gladiator was one of the first vehicles I could find below MSRP coming out of the Covid induced car shortage.

Harmanx
Harmanx
11 months ago

“…is this destined to be the Ford-killer Tesla fans want it to be…”

I suspect I represent a fair number of Tesla fans who aren’t hoping Cybertruck will be a Ford-killer. When it was first announced, it seriously spooked Ford and they put their Lightning production push into high gear — which was much more in line with my hopes for how Cybertruck would affect Ford. A lot of Tesla fans love Tesla because it has been able to motivate legacy auto into an EV transition that would otherwise never happen.

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