Is the Cybertruck a ‘Go F yourself’ from Musk or another broken promise driven by public funds?

“Elon’s main innovation is his ability to deploy humanist rhetoric to generate political support for his business ventures. Those businesses have been largely built by gaming the regulatory system and generous public funding,” said Alex Stevens, manager of policy and communications for the Institute for Energy Research.
Cybertruck and Musk

When the long-anticipated Cybertruck was revealed during an event in Austin last month, the specs further cemented Tesla CEO Elon Musk as a man who makes a lot of promises he fails to deliver on, according to some critics.

Musk was once loved by the political left.

In 2016, he was praising carbon taxes, which tax companies for the carbon dioxide they emit, and presenting the concept as a libertarian one. He promised great innovations in solar, which would include running Tesla charging stations entirely on solar panels and batteries. That has yet to happen. More recently, he said that “civilization will crumble” without fossil fuels.

After he took over Twitter, and did away with the suppression of conservative viewpoints that Twitter was known for, the left began to turn against their former hero. Ted Cruz told Just The News that Musk's purchase of X was a free-speech victory.

This past month, Media Matters for America (MMFA), a left-leaning media watchdog launched a campaign claiming X hosted pro-Nazi content and convinced more than a dozen advertisers to pull their ads. Musk is now suing the organization, alleging that MMFA deliberately manipulated its algorithms to bypass existing safeguards for advertisers to prevent such pairings and instead intentionally created the false impression that such occurrences were pervasive on the platform. MMFA omitted its manicured search methodology from the article.

Musk also believes that the Biden administration has turned against him. The Federal Communication Commission turned down Musk’s SpaceX application for nearly $1 billion in subsidies for rural broadband programs.

“Doesn’t make sense. Starlink is the only company actually solving rural broadband at scale!” Musk said of the decision on X, in response to Republican commissioner Brendan Carr’s dissenting opinion.

When The Wall Street Journal opined that the federal government may have it in for Musk, he shared the editorial on X and said, “Sure seems that way.”

Contra capitalist

Musk has also had his share of criticism from conservatives for supporting so many of his ventures with tax dollars.

Alex Stevens, manager of policy and communications for the Institute for Energy Research, told Just The News that while Musk is held up as a great entrepreneur and says a lot of things with which conservatives agree, all his business ventures are backed up by subsidies. He called Musk the “quintessential contra capitalist.”

“Elon’s main innovation is his ability to deploy humanist rhetoric to generate political support for his business ventures. Those businesses have been largely built by gaming the regulatory system and generous public funding,” Stevens said on X.

In an interview, Stevens said that in a free market, the entrepreneur’s success depends on the reputation of his or her word, and Musk has often fallen short in that regard. “Market institutions in general incentivize honesty and being a reliable person,” Stevens said.

With so much vitriol from the left directed at Musk, the Cybertruck was bound to generate ideologically motivated criticism, but much of the disappointment stems from Musk’s promises purportedly not lining up with the final product.  

After promising a $40,000 truck with a range of 500 miles, the lowest-priced model, which won’t be available until 2025, only has a range of 250 miles and costs nearly $50,000. The lowest-priced model that can be delivered next year costs nearly $70,000.

Patrick Lawson, owner of the Wyoming-based charging station company Wild West EV, told Just The News that he and his family ordered several of the trucks. Lawson currently drives a Ford F-150 Lightning through the rural landscape of central Wyoming. When he’s not running charging stations in Wyoming, he’s the executive manager of Wind River Internet, which provides internet services to customers living in remote, sparsely populated areas of the state.

The company is converting its fleet of pickup trucks over to the EV Lightnings from gas-powered pickup trucks because Lawson said they’ll save money on gas and maintenance over the life of the vehicles.

Though, with the specs on the Cybertruck coming in short on what was promised, Lawson said he expects a large portion of those who plopped down a couple hundred dollars to get their name on the waiting list will ultimately cancel. “They over-promised and under-delivered,” he said.

Tesla is offering a range extender for about $16,000. It will increase the range of the truck by about 150 miles, but, Lawson said, it takes up one-third of the bed of the truck. “It’s kind of a solution, but people are not thrilled,” he said.

Lawson said the Cybertruck’s autopilot is “top notch,” but the rest of the specs are comparable to other EV pickup trucks, like the Lightning. Lawson said that with Fords, dealerships are more widely available.
“And they’re not crazy like Elon,” Lawson said with a laugh.

Truck expectations

Ford announced this week it would cut the number of Lightnings it produces by half next year due to “changing market demand.”

Lawson said the four fleet Lightnings the company ordered — two long range and two short range — were ordered a year ago and they were only recently delivered. They were expecting delivery in a few months. He said the production cuts are “confusing.” “We can’t buy them if they can’t sell them,” Lawson said.

He said the long-range Lightnings work well, even when the company’s employees are driving 150 miles in a day. The short-range versions, however, lose a lot of range during the colder months. “If we have to go out to one end of the [Wind River] Reservation and back more than once in a day, it's going to be a little bit dicey,” Lawson said.

Electric vehicle batteries lose range in cold weather

The Lightning trucks  have other benefits, he said. They provide a power source, which is handy for jobs at houses that are off the grid. The sites use solar and batteries, and often during a snowstorm, there’s no power. In many cases, Lawson said, they can use the power from the truck.

Aaron Turpen, an automotive journalist who has test driven and written about many models of EVs, told Just The News that the Cybertruck is not the kind of vehicle someone who wants a pickup truck is going to buy.
“It can only marginally do the things a pickup truck is meant for,” Turpen said.

When 4,000 dealerships wrote a joint letter to President Joe Biden in November, telling him that their lots were piling up with EVs they couldn’t sell, one of the points the signatories made was that the range of EV pickups drops considerably when pulling loads.

It’s a problem Turpen noted in a review of the Lightning for Cowboy State Daily. Turpen also noted that the Cybertruck has been shown to have limited off-road capabilities, as videos have demonstrated. The multi-ton vehicle doesn’t distribute weight in such a way to gain traction when going up steep, unpaved surfaces like a conventional pickup truck.

The limitations of the Cybertruck’s capabilities are true for other models of EV pickups as well. Turpen said one possible reason why Ford cut back on production of the Lightning is that they were hoping for more fleet orders. However, fleet trucks need to do the work of pickups, and the Lightning doesn’t tow like a conventional Ford F150.

Like Stevens, Turpen suggested that the federal tax credits that EVs enjoy may lead to some of Musk’s recklessness when it comes to what he says he’ll do. “Maybe he's less prudent in his business dealings and stuff, because he can rely on public funding,” Turpen said.

Turpen said that there’s a consumer base for the Cybertruck, and they placed orders for theirs. He said once that demand is satisfied, there’s unlikely to be much behind it.

“I expect sales to die like the Model X and others have. It's not a mainstream vehicle so it's going to have limited appeal,” Turpen said. “It’s a really cool beastly truck, and there’s a really limited market for that.”

Tesla didn’t respond to requests for comment on this article.