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Elon Musk continues to straddle the fine line between being very clever and being an idiot.
There's no denying that SpaceX has done wonders for the US space industry, or that the Tesla EVs have reshaped the future of automotive transportation.
However, many of his other ideas and concepts are neither original, clever or even remotely practical (Hyperloop anyone?)
Over the weekend he rolled out another example of just how crazy he is at times, in the form of his electric truck.
Me thinks Mr Musk has been smoking too much whacky-backy on this one for sure!
The concept of an EV utility vehicle or light truck is an obvious one, although perhaps not as compelling as using an EV for urban transport.
The problems with Musk's latest release however, are numerous and significant.
For a start there are the super-tough windows that aren't.
Number one rule of hype... never dare to put hype to the test unless you're sure you can pull it off. Demonstrating that your hype is -- well -- just hype is a huge mistake and that became obvious after Tesla stock fell by six percent in the wake of his trucks broken "unbreakable" windows.
Then there is the issue of styling.
Seriously... although the Tesla Model 3 is no award-winning beauty it also isn't ugly, at least not in the way Musk's new truck is ugly.
The new vehicle from Tesla takes ugly to a whole new level. It is a vehicle that only its creator could love.
Does anyone remember the old Mazda 323 from the 1980s with not a curve to be seen anyhwere on its body? Well I'd bet good money that this vehicle was an inspiration for the truck.
Or was it the Delorian of Back to the Future fame that inspired this stainless steel nightmare?
And what's with the use of stainless steel?
Oh, that's right, it never needs to be painted. Oh wow... let's have a party for that feature!
The reality is that stainless steel isn't a particularly good material for making cars from. It's heavier than a good structural steel and nowhere near as strong. It's also far more prone to metal fatigue and despite the claims, it can and will rust under the right conditions.
But the big problem with stainless steel is that it's highly reflective. Even brushed stainless (which has very small scratches applied to its surface to reduce the mirror-like reflectiveness, still reflects almost all the light that shines on it. Now combine this highly reflective surface with a plethora of angular flat panels and you can see that driving down the motorway of an very sunny afternoon and encountering one or more of these trucks could be a blinding experience.
Then there are the practical issues of the design which, for a truck, is far too much "style" over function.
Your average ute or light truck should have a low bed so as to make loading/unloading as easy as possible. The sides of that bed should also be only as high as is necessary to secure the load -- but the Tesla has a sloping back with sides so high as to make side-loading an impossibility.
Of course the truck is not without its good points though...
Because it has so many KWH of battery onboard, it has built in AC-power outlets that can provide a day's worth of "on the job" electricity for the small contractor that Tesla obviously hopes will be its target market. Of course, to be fair, a $1,000 generator and container of petrol will do the same thing a whole lot cheaper and using it won't eat into your avialable driving range either.
So is this one of Musk's brilliant ideas or one of his lame ones?
The reality is that it probably falls somewhere in the middle. Reports indicate that people are pre-ordering this monstrosity so it will sell. Unfortunately, I don't think the funeral trade will be interested though... because most of us wouldn't want to be seen dead in one.
Your thoughts please -- to the comments!
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