When Elon Musk unveiled Tesla’s (NASDAQ:TSLA) latest creation, the Cybertruck, the internet went wild, and not in a good way. The truck’s futuristic design can only be described as bizarre, though Musk says it was an homage to the Lotus Esprit driven by James Bond in the movie, The Spy Who Loved Me.
Musk bought the Lotus Esprit used in the film back in 2013 for $997,000. At the time, he vowed to “upgrade” the car with Tesla electrics. It appears he has since abandoned that plan, instead using the car as inspiration for his Cybertruck.
The lotus isn’t the only place Musk seemingly searched for design inspiration. On Twitter he confirmed that the truck was also “inspired by games like Halo.” Specifically, Halo fans have drawn parallels between the game’s Warthog and the Cybertruck.
Musk’s willingness to play up the truck’s likeness to the Warthog and Lotus is likely part of a greater marketing plan. Like other Telsa vehicles, the Cybertruck has no marketing budget. That means online buzz among gamers and James Bond enthusiasts is an important part of spreading the word.
Unlike the rest of Musk’s electric vehicles, though, the Cybertruck needs to appeal to truck drivers—something it may struggle with after a botched demonstration day. Despite Musk’s attempt to undermine Ford’s F-10 during the Cybertruck reveal, the main takeaway from the event was that the truck’s “shatterproof” windows broke during a demonstration.
The Cybertruck’s embarrassing debut stole any glimmer of hope that its design would be embraced as cutting-edge and ‘cool.’ While some believe that no press is bad press, Musk might beg to differ after this weekend’s onslaught of memes poking fun at the Cybertruck.
Big brands got involved in the action too. Lego announced it’s own ‘shatterproof’ truck in a sarcastic tweet over the weekend.
Pepsi posted a video mocking ‘demo day,’ featuring a can being hit by a crumpled paper.
Demo day pic.twitter.com/kSFaU1IYzb
— Pepsi (@pepsi) November 22, 2019
Breakfast chain Denny’s even got in on the fun with a photo of a “Dynertruck.”
Musk responded to the chatter with a Tweet that seemed to indicate that the Cybertruck has 250,000 pre-orders. While that figure sounds impressive on the surface, there are two big factors it leaves unanswered.
The first is how many of those pre-orders will translate into actual orders. To pre-order a Cybertruck, fans simply have to put down a $100 refundable deposit.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, it doesn’t specify who is planning to buy the trucks. That’s a key factor because the Cybertruck is meant to be Tesla’s entrance into the truck market, a space that Ford (NYSE:F) and Chevrolet have controlled for years. In order to enter that market, Tesla needs truck drivers to like its car.
So far, it looks like the Cybertruck has more to prove. Pick-up trucks tend to sell well in southern states and so far the Cybertruck hasn’t gotten much traction there. Data from Twitter shows that in Texas, where the truck-market is strong, the Cybertruck wasn’t well-received.
Of course, there’s still time for Musk and his team to turn things around; but the truck’s out-of-the-box appearance coupled with a lackluster demonstration of its features have done little to persuade die-hard truck drivers to change their style.