Nov
25
2019

Question: Why Does Elon Musk keep doing things like the Cybertruck?

A: Because people keep putting down cash for them.

When Tesla unveiled its new pickup truck last Wednesday, many critics blasted it as ugly and impractical. But despite these criticisms, more than 200,000 people have put down a $100 deposit to reserve a spot in line for the new vehicle, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced on Sunday.

All-electric designs have helped every Tesla vehicle stand out from its competition, but Tesla’s Cybertruck is unconventional even by Tesla’s standards. Other pickup trucks are boxy, with a square cabin in the front and a flatbed in the back. The Cybertruck has a triangular design that looks a bit like the DeLorean in Back to the Future.

In related news: the number of people who will put down a hundred bucks to get first crack at a 40K to 70K electric refugee from a 80s/90s near-future dystopia flick is in the six figures. You really can’t fault Elon Musk for taking advantage of this, you know. He’s not the one making it rain soup; he’s just the one out there with the buckets.

11 Comments

  • acat says:

    Cybertruck reminds me more of something from “Ark II” or maybe “Damnation Alley” …
    .
    Not bad, mind, just ..
    .
    I can’t see taking it to the Home Depot ..
    .
    Mew

  • Luke says:

    Well, today I found out that Musk fanboys make Whedon fanboys look like disinterested slackers. (Also, sane.)
    .
    Hey, I like the guy, and if you want to drop however much on an impractical toy, be my guest.
    But really, the scheme from 30 years ago to use breeder reactors to break hydrogen from water, and then the hydrogen to power cars/planes/houses/bionic aardvarks was better thought out.
    It’s amazing how they believe that no one before Musk thought it was important to have better, more evident batteries that were smaller and weighed less. (Noting the obvious, countries and companies have spent millions of dollars researching exactly that, for well over half a century.) A breakthrough is possible, of course, but even noting the issue makes you a heretic.
    Not to mention that the grid lacks capacity.
    Range issues.
    Charging issues.
    Price issues. (I seriously had people ranting at me that electric vehicles were actually cheaper than regular vehicles!)
    Battery life issues.
    The implicit range/speed tradeoff.
    (Sigh) it doesn’t matter that people have been trying to make electric cars work as long as there have been cars. This time is different. Because reasons.

    • acat says:

      Niven’s Law, Luke.
      .
      The Elon fanbois are obnoxious .. but that doesn’t mean electric cars will forever remain a niche.
      .
      Do they work in rural areas? Unlikely .. but if you can put enough panels on top of a pole barn – maybe.
      .
      Mew

    • Luke says:

      I just read rah-rah puff piece on CNN (so no linky love out of admitted animus) where a GM ‘zek was talking up electric cars and the (cough) minor (/cough) details that would make them competitive. Buried in his third point towards the bottom of the article was, I think, the major takeaway, “regulation continuing to increase the cost of gasoline and diesel”.
      .
      Right now, the spot price for light sweet crude is right around $58/barrel.
      It was the spot price for light sweet crude exceeding $100/barrel that drove the price of gasoline over the $1/gal. mark almost 20 years ago.
      We’re no longer having to import crude from the far side of the world, so transportation costs of raw materials should be considerably lower.
      The oil companies haven’t been making obscene profits.
      Gas stations aren’t, either.
      There are currently around 135 (number is a few months out of date) refineries in the US. In 1999, there were 159. Increased efficiency and consolidation have pushed production up, but not to the point where supply and demand equalize. (Population and demand have also increased.) There’s an inefficiency here that could be exploited, but balance sheets indicate that’s not happening.
      As famously noted, the price of the labor involved has hardly budged during that period.
      So why the frick are gas prices around $2.50/gal.?
      Taxes and the extrinsic costs of regulatory compliance.
      (I’ll stop here, before I really get going and violate our host’s prohibition on politics. But it isn’t political to note that 60+% of the cost of a good most of us rely on is not inherent in the production or distribution. And plans to drive it higher to induce citizens to buy alternatives they would not otherwise want, is a questionable use of governmental power.)

      • acat says:

        Take a look at European gas prices .. then realize that’s where we’re going, eh?
        .
        Moving off on a tangent .. the cybertruck’s dystopian styling (see my other post above) may be the next step, after the recent resurgence of zombies in popular media (see Moe finally getting into ‘Walking Dead’) indicating we’re heading toward a new ‘great depression’ or worse.
        .
        Just a guess, mind.
        .
        Mew

    • Phil Smith says:

      re “Musk fanboys”: were you on the Insty comment thread? You can’t even discuss the distribution channel with those cats.

  • nicklevi86 says:

    Thing is, it’s not really about the truck, but the underlying patent-able engineering. The truck is just a rough scaffold.
    .
    Or, as someone else online put it: this is a race between a Technology company trying to make cars and car companies trying to develop a technology. Whoever finally manages to balance the two will have some not insignificant market-share.

    • acat says:

      Yep .. Musk & Co. aren’t trying to do cars .. they’re trying to do an entire integrated tech stack that *includes* cars, and batteries, and solar panels, and solar shingles, and …
      .
      It’s impressive .. but it’s also structured like a tech play.
      .
      For the automotive equivalent, examine how G.M. pushed IIRC Houston, TX to abandon trolleys and go to buses for mass transit.
      .
      Mew

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