That truck is not a truck

I’ve been waiting patiently for the Tesla pickup truck for over half a year. I was disappointed when the reveal kept on getting postponed, but when the date was set for November 21, I was counting down the days. When I woke up this morning and saw that it was the 21st, I was actually excited.

At 8 PM PST, I tuned into the Tesla live stream to watch the reveal. The broadcast started with a weird light show, then the truck came out. At first, I thought it was a meme.

But the truck stayed on the stage, and Elon Musk kept talking about the vehicle.

The vehicle that looks like my GPU failed 1/10th of the way into rendering all the polygons. The vehicle that looks like one of those unrealistic cars that children draw when they aren’t quite old enough to be able to fully translate what they see in person into a proper depiction on paper. The vehicle that looks like it hasn’t quite found its Up-Grade and Dubious Disc so it still isn’t done evolving into Cybertruck2, then Cybertruck-Z.

If anyone thinks that the Cybertruck is going to change the course of the pickup truck market, then I think they are sorely mistaken. A majority of people who are true pickup enthusiasts probably wouldn’t even classify the Cybertruck as a real truck. The Cybertruck is a malformed SUV at best, and a model that ceases production after one year at worst.

The reason I had such a personal interest in this vehicle is because I was actually planning on upgrading to an electric pickup truck in the coming few years. I own a GMC Canyon, and there’s an ongoing class action lawsuit against General Motors in regards to a malfunctioning transmission—a trans­mis­sion used by my truck. Because of this, unless this class action lawsuit resolves and I can get an entirely new transmission or something, I’m not too excited about keeping my truck past its powertrain warranty.

Electric pickup trucks are beginning to get revealed nowadays. In a year or two, they’ll actually be under production and start going on the market. Buy­ing a brand new vehicle right away isn’t a great idea though—it’s better to wait a year or two to let the manufacturer collect consumer feedback and make any necessary changes and fixes first. This puts us at right around four years from now as a great time to buy an electric pickup truck—which is right when my powertrain warranty runs out.

I’m part of the “newer” generation of truck owners who like pickup trucks for slightly different reasons than traditional truck drivers. I own a truck to use as a daily driver, not just for extreme hauling/towing or work. Sure, I want to be able to haul and tow in case I ever need it, but to me, the versatility and just the ability to do whatever I want with my vehicle is basically just as important as actually going out and doing it. Chances are, I’ll be happy that I know I can haul and tow if I want to, but I might not ever actually go do it on a regular basis.

Thus, just the numbers and specs of the truck aren’t going to be enough. I’m not just going to look at min-maxing payload numbers, towing numbers, and price to optimize my purchase; instead, I’m going to look for qualities of the pickup truck that people would look for in regular sedans, crossovers, and SUVs too.

When you buy a sedan or SUV, you’re not just looking at the best specs for the best price. You’re also looking at features, aesthetics, and overall com­pat­i­bil­i­ty with your personality type. When I went to buy my pickup truck, I considered all those elements, and more. I looked for a pickup truck with a design that I liked—and most new truck buyers will do the same. And most new truck buyers generally opt for trucks because they want something that looks ag­gres­sive.

Pickup trucks are generally associated with toughness, so newer trucks are all coming out with angry-looking front fascias, bold and powerful body styles, and sharp grilles that make nearly a 90° angle with the hood. If I were to come up with a visual representation of exactly how not to look aggressive, I’d probably now show everyone the Cybertruck.

Another element of pickup trucks that appeals to me—as well as a lot of other pickup truck owners—is the customizability. In my opinion, a truck needs to look good stock right off the dealership’s lot, but it also needs to have some degree of “plainness” to it to allow it to be a great canvas for mod­i­fi­ca­tions. Too much plainness and the truck will look boring and unappealing, but too little and it just ends up being too complex. I’ve also noticed that pickup truck owners have a greater degree of pride of ownership than most other vehicle owners, and it’s tough to be prideful of your truck if you can’t change it to truly make it your own.

There doesn’t really seem to be much you can do to customize the Cybertruck. I’d imagine that you can go all-out and add graffiti spray paint onto the surface so your Cybertruck is a rolling piece of art, but beyond that, there doesn’t seem to be much you can do.

The wheels and tires seem to be very unique to the Cybertruck, and I’d imagine you can’t just go buy new rims and stick them on. There’s automatically-adjusting air suspension, so you probably can’t lift the truck. The back is pre-covered like an SUV, so you can’t pick your own style of bedliner and bed cover to fit your needs and wants. The exoskeleton is a single piece, so I’d assume you can’t swap out the grille.

So where does the Cybertruck fit in, if it’s not likely to appeal to the current pickup truck—neither the more “modern day” pickup truck buyers, nor the traditional pickup drivers who use them for work?

For this, I draw a connection to the Jeep Wrangler. Technically, the Jeep Wrangler is just a regular SUV, but when people rate SUVs, they consider Jeeps to be their own sub-segment. You’ll rarely see Jeep Wranglers listed within traditional SUV ranking, and even when you go to rent a car, they’ll often separate Jeep Wranglers into its own rental category. People don’t deny that it’s an SUV—it’s just that it’s a bit too different to be properly comparable.

The Cybertruck will likely end up being its own sub-segment of the pickup truck category. It definitely has a bed, and it’s definitely just as capable and versatile as a pickup truck… but it’s just a bit too different to be properly comparable to the pickup trucks we have today.

If I were to take a guess, I think this would actually appeal more to supercar buyers than pickup truck buyers. The transition towards crossovers and SUVs is definitely still happening (albeit plateauing for now), and someone who normally drives a supercar who wants a bit more size to their ride might opt to get the Cybertruck. But other than that, I think that if Tesla was truly targeting the current pickup truck market, then they missed the mark.

I will not be purchasing a Cybertruck.