Why Tesla’s Cybertruck Might Flop

It’s a pickup truck for people who don’t need a pickup truck

Will Oremus


Photo: Tesla

OOne of Tesla’s core accomplishments has been to change the public’s idea of what — and who — electric cars are for. From the showy, uncompromising, original Roadster to the sleek, luxe Model S, to the almost-mainstream Model 3, the company’s most successful models have dramatically expanded its addressable market, reaching swaths of buyers that previous electric cars that were targeted solely at tree-huggers didn’t.

While Tesla’s stated mission is environmental, its marketing has always been more about trendsetting, innovation, and desirability. Its cars have succeeded, not primarily because they are practical or good for the world, but because they felt like the future. Tesla is not the first to take that approach: Toyota’s Prius initially touted its environmental credentials and practicality, but its sales took off only after the company gave it bolder styling and began marketing it as a high-tech status signifier.

Thursday night, Tesla made its boldest statement yet when it launched a striking addition to its lineup, a pickup truck that it calls the Cybertruck. Everything about it screams “tough,” from the stainless steel “exoskeleton” to its angular shape to the “armor glass” windows. Its radical design was instantly polarizing…