Tesla Inc.’s much-anticipated Cybertruck concept vehicle received an underwhelming reception from many investors and some of the automotive trade press due to its polarizing design and lack of typical pickup features. They may just be the wrong audience.
No less an authority than Road & Track called the battery-powered Cybertruck “wacky” in its initial take on the pickup.
But the automaker hopes to win over celebrities and other pop culture influencers who can help position the truck as an aspirational vehicle that builds up Tesla brand loyalty, RBC Capital Markets analyst Joseph Spak said in a research note. He likened it to an environmentally-friendly Hummer, invoking the retired General Motors Co. gas guzzling SUV brand.
“Call the Cybertruck a Hummer for the green millennial generation, really the ultimate virtue and vice signaling machine,” he said.
Millennial influencer Moe Sargi, who has more than 2 million subscribers to his YouTube channel, tweeted out to Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk that he placed an order for the truck and was looking forward to ordering an optional two-person all-terrain vehicle that Tesla also plans to offer.
Online comentators compared the Cybertruck’s angular design to the blocky, polygonal video game graphics of the early 2000s.
Influential gaming website Kotaku said the Cybertruck’s geometry looked like something from a first generation Sony Corp. Playstation video game. And British racing game producer Codemasters joked in a tweet that its “lawyers will be in touch” for copying the design of its video game cars.
The official Twitter account of best-selling futuristic sci-fi video game Halo, produced by Microsoft Corp. unit 343 Industries, gave a tongue-in-cheek shout-out to the truck by asking Musk if Tesla could produce a version with a rear-mounted cannon.
Wall Street analysts said Detroit automakers who dominate the full-size pickup market have little to fear from the Cybertruck, but Tesla may not be aiming for those traditional truck buyers.
“While the design and ‘armored’ features may actually expand the market by drawing in younger drivers who are gaming and sci-fi fans, these are buyers who are not likely to have been in the market for a King Ranch or Ram HD,” Barclays Plc analyst Brian Johnson wrote to investors on Friday.
Games designer Ed Boon, who co-created the Mortal Kombat series, tweeted he wasn’t sure what to make of the vehicle as a “non-truck driver,” but that he admired Musk’s penchant for disrupting the automotive status quo.