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The Machines

Get A Load Of This Sorry Piece Of Crap

2:34 PM EST on February 23, 2023

Elon Musk and the Cybertruck, in front of a digital readout bragging about the caliber of gunfire it can withstand for some reason.
Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Tesla Cybertruck looks like shit. That is the first thing about it. It looks like somebody should be pulling it out of a men's size-10 loafer in a shoe store in Times Square. It looks like a beard trimmer that plays Phil Collins songs. It looks like it should come free with a Sports Illustrated print subscription in 1987. Maybe it'll look better if you hit ctrl-alt-delete a few times or close WordPerfect in the background. Maybe it's just weird to see it outside of its natural environment, upright on the wall of a public restroom, dispensing paper towels.

Were the Cybertruck not so clearly intended to make a visual statement, you could shrug its ridiculous ugliness off. This is a pickup truck, you would say, in that case. A utility vehicle. Its function is not to be cool-looking. Its function is to haul stuff, possibly off-road. The problem there is that if that were true—"We got to move these refrigerators," the Cybertruck's ideal buyer might say, "we got to move these color TVs"—the Cybertruck would not look the way it does; there would be no affirmative reason to make it look like that. But still. You could imagine imagining that its appearance didn't matter.

Of course, that would require the Cybertruck to do truck stuff capably. Here is a video of a Cybertruck struggling to mount a normal curb, with help from wooden ramps:

The power! Whew. Look at that brute muscling its way over that three-inch garden phlox. Shoot, man, I bet with a strong tailwind it could get up a three- or even four-degree slope. Like it was nothing. So long as the slope is not covered with any stones larger than pea gravel. Tell you what, buddy: Once we put long gentle ramps on all the boulders in the world, it is over for those hoes.

I don't know about you, but what I look for in a utility vehicle is all the torque and raw power of a Roomba, but without any of the gratuitous sex appeal. At least the Cybertruck's brutal looks will be sure to command the attention of all the moms in the Whole Foods parking lot as it feebly rolls back down the front of a speedbump. Maybe some of them will help push it. I'd give the Cybertruck a reassuring pat after its long trek up that hill in the video up there, if its stainless steel body panels weren't 11 million degrees Fahrenheit in the sun.

A fun irony here is that the Cybertruck's evident frailty as a heavy-duty utility vehicle will disqualify it, absolutely, in the eyes of the median American pickup-truck buyer—even though the median American pickup truck driver never asks his gigantic blacked-out coal-rolling Ford F-150 Raptor to do anything brawnier than toting a 32-pack of plastic 16-ounce water bottles from the Walmart back to the McMansion. It's important that your pickup truck at least contain the capacity to function as an off-road death-squad conveyance, in the event you get called up to the big leagues to behead some liberation theologists on short notice.

The Cybertruck fails in both regards here: It is neither powerful enough (to pull a Radio Flyer wagon behind it), nor terrifying to behold. It looks like something you'd use to remove pilled wool from an old sweater; unfortunately it doesn't have the torque for that. I'd suggest toughening its looks up a little with a strategically placed Punisher logo decal, but that's more freight than it can haul.

But hey, at least its taillights don't work.

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