TOKYO/BENGALURU (Reuters) – Tesla Inc’s (TSLA.O) launch of its futuristic Cybertruck pickup suffered a setback when its “armoured glass” windows shattered but it was the overall look of the car that worried Wall Street on Friday, sending the company’s shares lower.
In the much-anticipated unveiling to cheering fans late on Thursday, Tesla boss Elon Musk had taken a stab at the design, power and durability of mainstream trucks, only to be shaken when his boast about his new vehicle’s windows backfired.
“Oh my fucking God, well, maybe that was a little too hard,” Musk said, when his head of design, Franz von Holzhausen, cracked the driver’s side window with a metal ball in a series of pre-planned tests for the crowd.
He allowed von Holzhausen another throw to the rear passenger window, only to see that crack as well.
“It didn’t go through, so that’s a plus side,” Musk said, adding: “Room for improvement”.
Musk singled out the Ford (F.N) F-150, the top-selling vehicle in the United States, to highlight the capabilities of the Cybertruck, showing an edited video of the two trucks in a back-to-back “tug-of-war” in which the Tesla truck wins.
Some Wall Street analysts praised the launch on Friday but others doubted the futuristic design’s mass appeal and shares in the electric car-maker fell more than 3%. Ford shares rose around 1%.
“Musk has been enthusiastic about his Blade Runner inspired design for months, but we were still surprised how futuristic he went with this one and believe it may shatter his dreams,” Cowen analysts wrote in a note.
“While we are pleased to see Tesla enter the most profitable segment of the North American passenger car market, we do not see this vehicle in its current form being a success.”
Critics online also made fun of the space-craft style look.
“I wish Elon Musk hadn’t blocked me on Twitter after I said his Mars colonization idea was dumb, so I could tell him how ugly his new #Cybertruck is,” author @MarkDice, who has 1.5 million YouTube followers, tweeted.
“Just make a normal truck,” added another user.
With a starting price of $39,900, the Cybertruck takes aim at the heart of Detroit automakers’ profits, while drawing familiar support from Tesla watchers online.
“Yes, it looks like a retro version of the future. It’s supposed to. The incredibly simple body lines will lead to incredibly simple manufacturing, while keeping the focus on its performance,” said @AElchamaa
“Electric powertrains are not cheap, but this truck is giving you a lot of it for its money.”
To show off the robust design of the new pickup, Musk asked von Holzhausen to take a sledgehammer to the side of the vehicle, whose exterior will be made from the same stainless steel used in the Starship rocket developed by Musk’s SpaceX aerospace company.
The crowd cheered when the hammer bounced off the surface without leaving a mark.
But the supposedly tough windows shattered with just one hit.
“Never demonstrate something in a live audience, that you haven’t tried repeatedly backstage,” wrote another Twitter user, @DrBenH.
Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu in Tokyo; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Patrick Graham