Almost four years after its unveiling, the Tesla Cybertruck remains one of the most polarizing exercises in automotive design the world has ever seen.
Recent Cybertruck prototype sightings have made that even more obvious as Tesla’s electric truck looks like nothing else on the road. As you can imagine, not everyone at Tesla was on board with the Cybertruck’s unorthodox looks.
Walter Isaacson’s “Elon Musk” biography brings to light an episode that shows just how disrupting the Cybertruck’s design was for Tesla’s own staff long before the rest of the world got to see it.
As it turns out, some Tesla engineers hated the Cybertruck so much that they began working on a secret alternative design for the electric pickup truck after seeing a mock-up of the outlandish-looking concept on display at SpaceX’s showroom in Los Angeles during the summer of 2019.
The stunning admission was made by Tesla’s design chief Franz von Holzhausen in a section of the book highlighted by Insider. “A majority of the people in this studio hated it. They were like, ‘You can’t be serious.’ They didn’t want to have anything to do with it. It was just too weird,” the design boss was quoted as saying in the book.
While von Holzhausen did not reveal what happened to the covert team’s alternate version of the Cybertruck, it’s obvious that it didn’t convince Elon Musk as the factory production model Tesla has been testing and teasing in recent months looks remarkably close to the show truck unveiled in November 2019.
According to Isaacson, Musk did not even want to hear concerns about the Cybertruck. “I don’t do focus groups,” he is quoted as saying in the book, a sentence that speaks volumes about the Tesla CEO’s approach to product development.
He told von Holzhausen that he wanted a driveable version of the vehicle that he could present at a Tesla event in November, which “forced the team to come together, work twenty-four-seven,” Isaacson wrote.
Time will tell whether he’s right or wrong with regard to the Cybertruck, but judging from the reported 1.9 million pre-orders for the electric truck – according to a crowd-sourced data tracker – Tesla’s debut pickup should be off to a fantastic start in the market.
After all, leaving aside its opinion-splitting design, the Cybertruck has huge potential as it is going after the highly profitable light-duty truck market currently dominated by Ford, GM, and Stellantis.
For more than four decades, America’s best-selling vehicle has been a pickup truck – the Ford F-Series – and even if the Cybertruck grabs just 5 percent of the market, it will be a smash hit for Tesla.