The YouTube channel Design, Prototype, Test is run by a guy named Mathew who lives in the Portland area. He has an academic and professional background in architecture, digital design, and industrial design. Mathew also is a longtime Toyota truck owner and fan, but he recently ordered a Tesla Cybertruck. In a lengthy and detailed video, he describes why he ordered it and compares the design and structural elements to conventional pickup trucks.
(Tesla actually doesn’t have to convert many gas-powered pickup truck owners to Cybertrucks to be successful. It reportedly received 250,000+ pre-orders rather quickly, and there will surely be more to follow.) Mathew spoke with CleanTechnica and generously answered some questions about the Cybertruck and why he ordered one.
How long have you been driving Toyota trucks?
Since I left home. My folks gave me a Geo Metro as my college car. When I left college I moved in a Rider truck out to Colorado. My new Colorado roommate had convinced his dad that Toyota trucks were awesome. His dad took it to a whole new level and was rebuilding them and all this kind of stuff. So, he was the one who taught me how to rebuild Toyota trucks, and why they’re reliable and easy to work on. That’s when I started buying them.
So, it’s been well over 15 years?
Oh, yeah, definitely.
And why are you a fan of them?
I was an exchange student in high school to Japan. I had heard about the whole Japanese quality control thing before I got a Toyota truck. Toyota trucks are reliable, they don’t break. When they do, they’re incredibly easy to fix.
I had friends who had Audis and just to replace the fuel pump, it could take three days because they have to take half the thing apart to get to it.
My roommate’s father said what makes Toyota great is that they learned everything from the best time in Detroit. When Detroit was doing everything on the up-and-up and doing everything correctly, that was the heyday that Toyota copied, and then they added their quality control — kaizen.
Do you have a background in design or engineering?
Yeah, after my undergraduate degree in psychology, I went to Colorado and worked in bike shops for a few years. Then I worked construction — I built houses. Then I joined the Navy as an engineering aide. After I got out of the Navy, I had the G.I. bill and I got accepted into Michigan for a master’s degree in architecture. While I was at Michigan, I got lucky because we had the #1 program in the country for architecture. I really focused on the digital design of things. From the master’s in architecture I was able to do a second master’s in digital technology.
Is the Cybertruck going to be your first EV, or have you already had one?
Yep, it will be my first one.
What about the Cybertruck got your attention, had you been reading about it before the launch?
With Tesla, with the self-driving, that’s been on my radar forever. I’m pretty firmly middle class, I don’t have $80,000 for the top-of-the-line, premium vehicle. I have some money, but I need it to do what I need it to do. The other Teslas were too expensive for the utility they were going to give me and my family. With the Cybertruck, the price is right at the limit.
What about the Cybertruck appeals to you?
For a non-Millennial and family man, I’m not trying to be seen. The looks for the Cybertruck are not what’s motivating me to buy it. This is a reasonably priced vehicle for what it’s giving me. I need to be able to fit a car seat in the back and drive my family around, but I also need some truck utility. I do projects, I have a stack of wood in my garage, and depending on the project, I need more. Standard sheet of plywood and drywall are four feet by eight feet, which you can easily haul in a 6 foot bed with two feet hanging out of the back over the closed tailgate. I can’t haul plywood with a car or an SUV because they never have a lumber rack on the top.
With the self-driving, I can make the four-hour drive down to see the grandparents and maybe have it drive itself and relax. I could spend that time talking to my kid as well without worrying that I’m going to cause an accident because I’m not paying perfect attention to the road.
How much more aerodynamic is the Cybertruck compared with a conventional pickup?
Oh my god, it’s so much … (laughs) … the Cybertruck can raise and lower something like 10 inches. So, you can basically drop it to the ground, which makes it more aerodynamic, and the shape is already much closer to being a car, so it’s going to be more slippery.
Normal trucks are designed without any consideration for aerodynamics. Just think of the Mack trucks from the 1970s, which basically were just boxes built around engines. The style and development of pickup trucks harken back to this Mack truck tractor/trailer, that’s the zeitgeist. The hoodlines have been getting taller and taller in recent years, making visibility out the front worse and worse, so it’s not just dumb design for moving air, it also bad for usability.
Anything else you want to add?
Yeah, I’m not trying to disparage Detroit. I lived 45 minutes from downtown Detroit for 4 years. Detroit has classically been the center of America for manufacturing and inventiveness and all that, but times change. I really hope the old establishment can adapt, and start to do some of the things that Tesla does. It would be nice to have some diversity. Not just Tesla. That would be good for us as consumers. I’m not holding my breath, but we’ll see.