For better or worse, consumers (also known as “people”) typically organize products in their heads using simple descriptors or tags. Product marketing is very heavily focused on simple messaging as a result — because it works. “Built Ford Tough.” (Because you’re tough, and your truck definitely should be!) “Just do it.” (Because you are a do-er. You take action. Your shoes and clothes need to be ready for that!) “Always Coca-Cola.” (Just drink our soda. Always. Everywhere. You will be happy.)
Pre-Tesla, electric cars were not that well known. Among those who knew what an electric car was, the prevailing summary of them was that they were slow like golf carts, geeky, and only for a certain (weird) kind of person. Elon Musk and other early birds at Tesla blew those stereotypes out of the water. They built an electric sports car that took advantage of an electric drivetrain’s instant torque. It was basically nothing before. (Well, it was like the tzero, but let’s not get too far into the weeds.) Elon wasn’t content with an expensive little sports car, though — and there was certainly much more beyond the Roadster in Tesla’s Secret Master Plan. Elon, JB Straubel, and Jerome Guillen got to work developing the Model S, a large sedan that would demolish numerous records and any sense of what is “normal” or “possible” in a family sedan. Power? You want power? How about a rocket ship on wheels! And a quiet, electric one at that!
Elon and crew didn’t just produce a fast car. They produced an S-Class-sized iPhone on wheels that could beat million-dollar supercars on the track. How embarrassing is it to have a million-dollar, two-seat “supercar” that gets spanked on the drag strip by a car that can seat 5 adults and 2 kids (if you get the extra kid seats)? Plus, it has a frunk as well as a trunk? Tesla didn’t just compete with other $70,000–130,000 sedans. The company crushed the competition where it hurt, in performance and technology. Tesla rolled out Autopilot in 2014, surpassing other driver-assistance suites on the market, and it never looked back. If that wasn’t good enough, the company also took safety to another level. Tesla actually broke the testing machine designed to see how much weight is needed to crush the roof of a car. The Model S also couldn’t be rolled over by the testing equipment. Tesla logged the highest NHTSA safety score in history (and is yet to be beaten by a non-Tesla model).
The Model X came out and offered sports car acceleration in a large SUV package. Oh yeah, plus those “impossible to mass produce” falcon-wing doors. Some engineers may not like the elaborate design of the falcon wings, but I know from plenty of anecdotal experience that tons of normal people love and adore them. Experts in the industry said they were impossible to mass produce. Tesla proved the experts wrong while rolling out the sportiest, highest tech SUV in history. It is also arguably the most practical or convenient, thanks to easy ingress and egress, a ton fo storage space, Autopilot, and home charging — no more gas station stops between soccer pickups and dropoffs! At our elementary school, we have I think 5 Tesla Model X and 1 Model S.
The Model 3 beat the Model S’s safety record (and forget about Volvo), out-accelerated the BMW 3 Series (it was also called the “ultimate driving machine” by a major conventional auto magazine), and raised in-car infotainment and semi-autonomous driving tech to another level. Oh yeah, and it is far cheaper to own than any other premium-class car.
One thing we know for certain about the Tesla Cybertruck, even before we get any specs, is that it’s going to be the manliest man-truck on the market. Elon doesn’t enter a segment with a vehicle that simply matches the specs and tech of the competition. He enters a segment with something dramatic that goes right to the heart of the segment’s top selling points. He has already indicated the Cybertruck will be able to beat a Porsche on the track and also look like an armored vehicle. Seriously — a tank that’s quicker than a Porsche? “Like a rock … crusher.” Expect the Cybertruck to also have hookups for power tools, compressed air tools, and other manly things. Elon has a tendency to show dramatic examples of what his new vehicles can do. I have no idea what’s in store this time, but I could imagine Cybertruck pulling a SpaceX rocket, crushing a concrete wall unharmed as it drives through it, or being a real-life transformer in some way.
We’ve got another day and night to go. And as much as there’s suspense regarding this cyberpunk, Blade Runner–inspired electric pickup truck, there’s also the totally baked in expectation that this Tesla vehicle is going to be a demon of a vehicle packed with approximately 10× more testosterone than makes sense. If tech geeks turn into monster truck fighters after the Cybertruck hits the road, don’t be surprised for a moment. Every software engineer can turn into an alligator wrestler if led to the swamp and trained in the right way. God bless Ford’s, Dodge’s, and Chevy’s soul.