There’s a lot of interesting brain food embedded in the Tesla Cybertruck. You can have a serious, intelligent, academic discussion about it all until you’re blue in the face. But there’s one basic, fundamental, gut-turning point about the Cybertruck (or Cybertrukk). The thing just turned Ford SuperDuties, “like a rock” Chevy Silverados, and rock-ramming Ram 3500s into princess wagons. Here’s what I now think of when I look at a normal pickup truck:
I’ll be frank — I’m not in the market for a pickup truck or a Cybertruck. I’m not really a manly man in the first place. Remember, I sit on the couch writing and editing word salads for a living. I’d rather go play some tennis with my little girls than watch a NASCAR race. Well, actually, I’d rather do just about anything than watch a NASCAR race. I’ll stick to my Tesla Model 3, thank you very much. But even I can feel moved and enticed by the GI Joe, Terminator, or bull-like man-energy of the Cybertrukk. Other than a tank, or maybe even more than a tank, that thing is a freakin’ manly man-vehicle! It gets my blood going.
Think I’m going overboard? Reflect for a minute on what every freakin’ pickup truck commercial is about. Why is every single one of them basically trying to tell you that you’ll be the manliest man around if you buy the pickup truck model the marketing team behind that pickup is hawking? Why is there practically no other message conveyed to potential truck buyers? Because, simple as it is, vehicle purchases — and, thus, vehicle marketing efforts — are primarily about your identity, and for whatever reason, one of the most fundamental matters of our identity and what compels us to buy certain products is our connection to our gender.
In other words, count the ground clearance, measure the truck bed, consider the torque and towing capacity all you want, what a pickup truck is really supposed to be is the ultimate man-vehicle. What Elon Musk did is exactly what I wrote a few days ago he’d do — he created the manliest man-truck on the market, and not by a little bit. He crushed the competition in this regard. Rather than create some modified version of the prevailing pickup truck design, he created a bulletproof, tank-like, ugly as a m**** f***** Cybertrukk.
At the moment, you’ve got tons and tons of guys saying they’re buying the Cybertruck even though they never had an interest in trucks before. In my humble opinion, they probably didn’t identify with normal pickup trucks for cultural reasons. The Cybertruck, though, 1) provides them with a tough-as-nails man-truck that they can identify with because of various movies (mostly Sci-Fi stuff) that they enjoyed and it could have come straight out of, 2) it looks like it would crush the coal-rolling, Supercharger-blocking, EV-harassing pickup trucks of a different clan. Call it a “fight” rather than “flight” attraction. As much as “tech guys” may seem like they wouldn’t be sucked into primal testosterone appeals, think for a moment about how popular superhero movies are.
To be straight-up about it, I’m not being condescending here. We are humans. We have these kind of features. We have this stuff hardwired or softwired into our brains and blood.
I’m just saying that, the #1 thing this Cybertruck does is it puts a hardcore smackdown on man-trucks without even touching them. It just gives them the Arnold look and everyone knows who shouldn’t be messed with. The Cybertruck may be a massive hit for its practical application as a camping tool, for its utilitarian truck bed and power tool hookups, or because of some other features, but if it’s going to be a hit, that’s because it makes all those truck commercials you see during football games look like advertisements for Barbie Power Wheels.
Getting to some money matters, in terms of sales or consumer demand, I think the two biggest questions are 1) how many normal truck buyers are open-minded enough or attracted enough to the Cybertruck to switch over, and 2) how many non-truck people are motivated to by a Cybertruck for reasons they can’t explain, and then truly go through with purchasing one.
We’ll see. In the meantime, tell me you don’t see this the next time you see a Chevy/Ram/Ford truck commercial:
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