Power Players

Elon Musk on Tesla's Cybertruck: 'I wasn't sure if nobody would buy it'

Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk stands in front of the shattered windows of the newly unveiled all-electric battery-powered Tesla's Cybertruck at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, California on November 21, 2019.
FREDERIC J. BROWN | AFP | Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk personally thinks the company's Cybertruck is Tesla's "best product ever," but he wasn't sure many other people would like its futuristic design.

"I wasn't sure if nobody would buy it or if a lot of people would buy it," Musk said of the truck's November debut on a recent Third Row Tesla podcast.

The electric truck's angular body is based in part on a 1976 Lotus Esprit sports car Musk bought in 2013 for nearly $1 million. The car was used in the 1977 James Bond movie, "The Spy Who Loved Me."

"I told the team, 'Listen, if nobody wants to buy this, we could always make one that looks like the other trucks.' Like 'OK, that was a weird failure, but now we'll make one that looks like the others,'" he said on the podcast.

But Musk said there was method behind his design madness.

"A lot of reasons why people buy pickup trucks in the U.S. is because it's the most bad-ass truck. Which one's the toughest truck?" he said on the podcast. So "what's tougher than a truck? A tank. A tank from the future.

"How do you out-tough a truck? You make a futuristic armored personnel carrier. It's gonna be pretty special and not like other things," he said.

Musk said his "inspiration board" for the pickup also included the movies "'Blade Runner,' 'Mad Max,' 'Back to the Future,' 'Aliens' – that's why it looks like that."

"You want to have these things that inspire people and feels different," Musk said on the podcast. "Everything else is the same, like variations on the same theme."

Still, the truck did initially receive a mixed response.

At the Cybertruck's unveiling, Tesla's chief designer, Franz Von Holzhausen, threw a metal ball at one the Cybertruck's "bulletproof" windows to prove its durability. The window cracked. A second attempt cracked too.

Tesla stock tanked 6% that day and the truck was "met with mixed reactions on Wall Street as some balked at its unusual design," CNBC reported at the time.

But according to Musk, the broken window didn't impact the number of Cybertruck pre-orders – on Nov. 26, the Tesla CEO tweeted that the company received 250,000 pre-orders.

However a Cybertruck pre-order only requires a $100 fee to cover processing costs — it is not considered a deposit, according to the pre-order agreement on Tesla's website. For pre-orders to turn into sales, customers have to sign a purchase agreement.

It's unclear what percentage of Tesla vehicle pre-orders end in sales, and Tesla has not released any sales numbers for the Cybertruck.

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