Good days and bad have met Elon Musk over the years as he blazed a path to outer space, electric vehicle dominance and the title of one of the world’s strangest CEOs.
Last night was decidedly bad.
The Tesla CEO unveiled the company’s first truck to near-universal jeers. The stainless steel, triangular Cybertruck was compared to a door stop and Lara Croft’s upper torso in tweets. Like a SpaceX launch pad failure, things kept crashing — the truck’s “shatterproof” windows cracked and spidered when an assistant at the unveiling hurled a steel baseball at them. Twice.
“Oh my f****ng God,” Musk exclaimed. “A little room for improvement.”
CNBC’s Jim Cramer said the vehicle was “stillborn” and compared it with Ford’s late 1950s flop the Edsel. The company’s shares fell 6%.
Last night’s flop isn’t the only rough news greeting the electric vehicle market this week. An MIT study found that EVs will likely never have the hoped-for impact on greenhouse gas emissions because their batteries are too expensive, preventing them from ever being priced in the same range as gas-powered cars.
Maybe Musk’s bad night will be Ford’s gain. Ford this week introduced a new electric car and badged it with the iconic Mustang moniker in hopes of reaching a new generation. Carmakers aren’t slowing in their new EV introductions, either.
EV’s make up a tiny portion of global car sales — about 2 million of 78.6 million. That number is expected to soar, as Bloomberg NEF projects more than half of all cars sold will be electric by 2040.
Despite the glitch, Musk is undeterred as he leads the world’s biggest seller of electric cars while also pioneering commercial space travel and reusable rockets. His vision includes sending spaceships to Mars, selling the world’s fastest production car, building a tunnel under Los Angeles and spreading solar energy and batteries around the world.
- Jalopnik reviewers seemed to like the car, calling it an “Angular Beast with Unbelievable Specs.” Another bright spot — the Cybertruck’s stainless steel body did hold up to repeated sledgehammer smashes onstage. That made Musk smile.
- Last night wasn’t the first bad night for the 48-year-old South African with a $24.4 billion fortune. The company’s shares have bounced wildly since its 2010 IPO, though the trend has been solidly up, including a surge over the past few months after Tesla reported an unexpected profit. He’s hectored shareholders on earnings calls, smoked marijuana during a videotaped interview and accused a heroic rescuer of being a pedophile.