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Tesla's Engineers Hated The Cybertruck: Book

Walter Isaacson's new Elon Musk biography reveals the design was not exactly beloved within Tesla

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The Tesla Cybertruck during a tour of the Elkhorn Battery Energy Storage System in Moss Landing, California
Photo: Nic Coury/Bloomberg (Getty Images)

Have you ever been stuck with a work project that you knew was bad? The edict comes down from on high that you need to do some specific task, despite you knowing full well that it won’t benefit your customers, your employees, or yourself in any real way. That seems to be the situation foisted upon Tesla’s engineers, who “hated” the design of the Cybertruck when it was revealed internally.

This comes from Walter Isaacson’s biography of Elon Musk, via Insider. Isaacson spoke with Franz von Holzhausen, Tesla design lead, who said the engineering team’s response to the angular, steel body was less than positive. From Insider:

“A majority of the people in this studio hated it,” von Holzhausen said of the futuristic design, according to the book. “They were like, ‘You can’t be serious.’ They didn’t want to have anything to do with it. It was just too weird.”

Some Tesla engineers even took to covertly designing another version of the electric pickup after they saw a mock-up of the futuristic truck on display at SpaceX’s showroom in Los Angeles during the summer of 2019, Isaacson, who shadowed Musk for three years, wrote.


You know you’ve nailed a vehicle design when all your engineers begin their own skunkworks project to fix it. But at least the engineers were given the time they needed to turn von Holzhausen’s design into properly-engineered reality, rather than being rushed to make a running and driving prototype just months after they first saw the model.

Rather than focus on adjusting the design, Musk told von Holzhausen that he wanted a driveable version of the vehicle that he could demo at a Tesla event in November, which von Holzhausen said “forced the team to come together, work twenty-four-seven,” Isaacson wrote.


Ah. Well, nevertheless.