The Industry

Here Is What Will and Won’t Break Tesla’s New Cybertruck

Won’t break it: sledgehammers and bullets (maybe). Will break it: metal balls and withering tweets.

Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk stands in front of the shattered windows of the newly unveiled Cybertruck.
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk stands in front of the shattered windows of the newly unveiled Cybertruck.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

On Thursday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled his company’s first ever electric pick-up truck, the Cybertruck, during a launch event in Los Angeles. Starting at $39,900 for the base model, the Cybertruck can go from 0 to 60 mph in under three seconds, and pricier upgraded versions are able to tow up to 14,000 pounds and travel 500 miles on a single charge. The bulky, angular vehicle resembles the sort of armored car that might keep you safe in a dystopian 8-bit video game. Apparently, it was also supposed to have the resilience of an armored car as well—until an embarrassing demo at the event quickly dashed that selling point.

During the unveiling, Musk kept emphasizing how sturdy the Cybertruck is, pointing out that the outer shell is made from the same stainless steel alloy that SpaceX plans to use in its rockets. “It is literally bulletproof to a nine-millimeter handgun,” he said. In order to drive this point home, Tesla’s chief designer Franz von Holzhausen hit one of the doors with a sledgehammer, which did not appear to leave a dent. (No firearms were used in any part of the demonstration.)

Things took a turn for the worse, though, when the two Tesla executives tried to show off the Cybertruck’s purportedly unbreakable “Armor Glass” windows. When von Holzhausen threw a metal ball at the driver’s-side window, it left a huge circular crack. “Oh my fucking god,” Musk said, before suggesting that von Holzhausen may have just thrown the ball a little too hard. Von Holzhausen then threw a ball at the rear window, which also got smashed.

Musk tried to brush the incident off by noting that there was “room for improvement,” but then went on to claim that the windows had withstood previous tests. “We threw wrenches; we threw everything.” he told the audience. “We even literally threw a kitchen sink at the glass, and it didn’t break. For a little weird reason it broke now. I don’t know why.” He completed the event while the Cybertruck was onstage with two broken windows.

The hashtag #Cybertruck soon became the No. 2 trending topic on Twitter that evening, with users sharing videos and gifs of the fiasco. “So @elonmusk just shattered the window of the new ‘armored’ truck,” one user wrote. “Now I don’t feel so bad about that typo in that presentation I just made.” Some suggested that future Cybertruck owners should place cracked class stickers on their windows. Others were thrown off by the truck’s design, saying it reminded them of doorstops and old 3D graphics.

Musk has claimed in the past that he sees the pickup truck as more of a pet project and wouldn’t be too concerned if it doesn’t do well in sales. The Cybertruck is entering a competitive field: Ford and General Motors are both designing their own electric pickup trucks, which will presumably look a bit less outlandish.

In any event, the broken windows should be the least of Musk’s worries at the moment. A Los Angeles District Court just ruled on Monday that a lawsuit against the CEO for allegedly defaming a British cave explorer by calling him a “pedo guy” will go to trial.