The much-hyped unveiling of Tesla’s electric pickup truck went off script Thursday night when supposedly unbreakable window glass splintered twice when hit with a large metal ball.
The failed stunt, which ranks high on the list of embarrassing auto industry rollouts, came just after CEO Elon Musk bragged about the strength of “Tesla Armor Glass” on the wedge-shaped “Cybertruck.”
On a Los Angeles-area stage with Musk, Tesla design chief Franz von Holzhausen hurled a softball-sized metal ball at the driver’s side window to demonstrate the strength of the glass, which Musk called “Transparent Metal Glass.” It shattered.
“Oh my ... God,” Musk said, uttering an expletive. “Maybe that was a little too hard.”
They tried it a second time on the left passenger window, which spider-cracked again.
Musk recovered with a one-liner: “At least it didn’t go through. That’s a plus side.”
The failure overshadowed the truck’s slick unveiling, with some analysts panning its looks. The truck, a stainless-steel covered triangle, resembles the much derided Pontiac Aztek SUV sold by General Motors in the early 2000s.
Investors apparently didn’t like the stunts or the truck’s futuristic design, which is aimed at getting a foothold in the most profitable part of the U.S. auto market. Tesla shares fell almost 6% in midday trading Friday.
“Tesla’s Cybertruck reveal will likely disappoint current pickup truck owners, and we see the vehicle remaining a niche and not a mainstream product,” Cowen Investment Research analyst Jeffrey Osborne wrote in a note to investors. “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.”
Over the years, such stunts have been common at highly rehearsed auto industry unveils. But there have been some embarrassing mishaps. At Detroit’s auto show earlier this year, an Infiniti concept electric SUV missed its introduction when it wouldn’t start and the company couldn’t move it onto the stage.
Perhaps the most famous miscue came in Detroit in 2008 when Chrysler showed off the new Ram pickup truck with a cattle drive outside the convention center. But some of the cattle started mating, drawing attention away from the vehicle.