PT Barnum never had a better day. Nor the callers who can hardly pronounce Windows and say you have malware on your PC. Elon Musk Sunday night tweeted he’s lured in deposits on 200,000 Tesla Cybertrucks … that may or may not ship a year from now. That’s 200K deposits, $20 million in just three days. If it does ship on time, that, too, would be some kind of Tesla record.
But then it’s not every day you can put down $100 — “fully refundable” — on a car with unbreakable windows that the designer tosses a ball at, and it shatters. Twice. And you don’t know — pardon us for being skeptics — what colors it comes in, in case you or your partner care about that. Two hundred thousand is almost as many points as San Francisco put up on visiting Green Bay on Sunday Night Football around when the Elon tweet came rolling in:
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 25, 2019
Saturday afternoon, a day and a half after the launch, Tesla had almost hit 150,000 reservations.
146k Cybertruck orders so far, with 42% choosing dual, 41% tri & 17% single motor
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 23, 2019
The Rules of Making a Deposit0
If you want to order a Cybertruck, you have to choose the performance/price level, and whether to get the IOU for self-driving, which may or may not work when your car ships. Translation: The sensors and cameras will all be there but maybe not the software. That comes as an over-the-air update. The prices are:
- Single motor, rear drive, $39,900 (chosen by 17 percent of early customers)
- Dual motor, all-wheel-drive, $49,900 (42 percent)
- Tri motor, all-wheel-drive, $69,900 (41 percent, and it won’t ship until 2022)
Tesla adds this footnote about the pre-order:
Due today, $100. Fully refundable. You will be able to complete your configuration as production nears in late 2021. Tri Motor AWD production is expected to begin in late 2022.
By placing this order you agree to allow Tesla to save your credit card to pay for future services as described in the payment terms.
By clicking “Place Order” I agree to the Cybertruck Pre-Order Agreement, Supercharger Fair Use Policy, the Customer Privacy Agreement, and consent to be contacted at the number provided with more information or offers about Tesla products. I understand these calls or texts may use automated dialing or pre-recorded messages. I understand my consent to be contacted is not a condition of purchase.
The fine print does confirm you can cancel at almost any time before taking delivery.
At this point, Tesla does not give buyers much idea what kind of options are available, or things like, “Will it come in colors – can stainless steel be painted?” Answer (ours, not Tesla’s): Yes, stainless steel can be if the surface is scuffed/sanded/sandblasted and/or chemically cleaned with a degreaser, and if you use a high-quality primer. We wonder: Will any paint color be an upcharge?
Nor is there much information on when self-driving will be available, or what level it will be at, 2, 3, 4 or 5, and if Tesla’s description matches one of the SAE recognized levels. L2 is what some cars have now: basically lane-centering plus adaptive cruise control plus keep your hands on the wheel. L3 is essentially hands-off driving on limited-access roads, but you need to keep your hands on the wheel in case you need to take over like, right now. Stuff like this really confuses people who think self-driving means self-driving. L4 is hands-off, pay no attention driving … on limited-access roads, and L5 is hands-off self-driving anywhere.
When Tesla unveiled the affordable $35,000 (at one time) Tesla Model 3, the deposit was $1,000, refundable, and Tesla eventually had about 400,000 deposits. More buyers wanted the $35,000 base version than Tesla wanted to sell. (The base version is now $39,490, or what Tesla likes to call “$33,315 … after potential savings.”) Later reports said as many as a quarter of intenders dropped out of the waiting line. Tesla also at one point made the deposit non-refundable. Now deposits on all cars are down to $100, but non-refundable on cars that are actually shipping.
Tesla doesn’t cite tax savings with the Cybertruck because it will ship nearly a year after Tesla’s federal tax credit expires. Once $7,500, it’s now down to $1,875 and falls to zero on Jan. 1, 2020. Tesla was the first automaker to sell 200,000 EVs and now it’s the first with (in five weeks) no tax credits.
No, Really, What Else Does Cybertruck Look Like?
Meanwhile, Cybertruck has been a godsend for comics, meme-posters, and others who say “the Cybertruck looks exactly like ____.” The Pontiac Aztek came up a few times.
For starters, it bears a strong resemblance to the F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter. (Stealth doesn’t apply when you’re flying a couple of hundred yards in front of it during the daytime.)
Cybertruck’s strong body lines with severe changes of direction might also conjure up the Lamborghini Countach, the epitome of Italian wedge design from the era when boomers were reconsidering their platform shoes and Qiana fiber bell bottoms. A 1985 model cost about $100,000, or about $240,000 now. Where Tesla rang up 200K orders in three days, Lamborghini sold 2,000 from 1974 to 1990.
Auto and business writers turned movie critics for a day, such as Faiz Siddiqui of the Washington Post:
The design elicited a mixture of awe and scorn, and very little in between. To one faction, it looked as if it had been designed on Microsoft Paint or an old-school video game. To another, it was a revelation, a raw demonstration of the utilitarian needs of a sustainable future.
Paul Eisenstein of The Detroit Bureau wrote in Tesla’s New Cybertruck Makes the Long-Derided Pontiac Aztek Look Good in Comparison:
But what can one say about the Tesla Cybertruck…That it may be the single worst automotive design since the Pontiac Aztek? [See, nobody likes Aztek. – Ed] That it looks like something out of a bad 1980s sci-fi movie?…That it could have been the ‘Homer-mobile,’ the horribly wrong design sketched out by patriarch Homer in the long-running TV series, the Simpsons?
Lauren Fix, the Car Coach, posted a YouTube video and said:
Elon Musk is a disrupter, this is not disruption. This is a joke on purpose. Is it Cybertruck or Cyber Truck? Does it matter? Musk needed to do something to get the press talking about him and everyone fell for it. He’s a snake oil salesman and this is a gigaflop! The results of blending a Pontiac Atzek, El Camino and a Delorean. This is hideous. The final version will never look like this, listen to why there are some serious issues.
The Lauren Fix Cybertruck video:
Apropos of Franz the Destroyer (Franz von Holzhausen, Tesla head of design), there’s the TV reporter who walks up to a car with a hammer and warns, “All it takes is a matter of seconds for someone [thief] to get into your car. All he needs is a hammer, an empty parking lot and [hammer glances off window, nothing breaks].”
Tesla fanboys have shown their loyalty and critics their lack of same:
They tried that line of thought with the Aztek. pic.twitter.com/p2Ow6jJgMA
— Ott (@Ottstorage) November 22, 2019
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