It took exactly 2 minutes and 27 seconds for Elon Musk to go from bragging about his newest car to uttering “Oh my fucking god.”
On Thursday, the Tesla CEO unveiled his latest vehicle, the Cybertruck, at a flashy Los Angeles event that was part Apple iPhone reveal, part Blade Runner. It was, like every Tesla presentation, done on its chief’s terms, with whooping fanboys, flashing cameras, and a halting, cutesy android hologram that introduced the car’s “creator,” Musk.
The unveil seemed to be going to plan until Musk and his chief designer decided for kicks that they’d throw a metal ball at the car’s driver-side window. And holy hell, it was not worth it, according to a video I've watched approximately 37 times.
Musk has spent much of the last 12 months trying to recover from fights with investors, employees, and random people on Twitter. What he needed was an event where a prototype vehicle could be celebrated. What he got was an occasion that will be remembered as the time Tesla’s CEO sabotaged his own car on stage, not once, but twice.
So what the hell happened?
The first nine minutes of the Cybertruck presentation goes on without a hitch. “We need something different, and we need sustainable energy now,” Musk said, before rolling out a vehicle that looks like a DeLorean had a baby with Walter White’s Pontiac Aztek. Or something an 8-year-old built in Minecraft. Or this thing.
The dick-swinging contest starts around six minutes into the presentation, when Tesla's lead designer Franz von Holzhausen appears with an orange sledgehammer to test the Cybertruck’s body. With Musk claiming “it’s really hard,” von Holzhausen attempts to dent the car’s driver-side door. He fails, but in the way that Musk wanted him to. Good boy.
The hammer is put away, and Musk makes a pronouncement on stage that seems scripted by Icarus. “You want a truck that’s really tough, not fake tough,” he says. “You want a truck you can take a sledgehammer to, a truck that won’t scratch, doesn’t dent. What else can we do with this truck?” [Narrator: Lol.]
Musk moves onto the windows. Tesla Armor Glass, according to the billionaire CEO, is “transparent, metal glass,” which makes some people cheer without having a clue what it means. Three Las Vegas magician types appear at the side of the stage and drop a metal ball on what appears to be regular car glass, which cracks. Then they climb a ladder and try it on the Armor Glass, which voilà, stays intact. Such wow.
Then von Holzhausen returns. Fuckin' Franz. He drops the metal ball on the floor just so everyone knows he’s got a fucking metal ball, picks it back up, and walks by Musk. “Franz, could you try to break this glass, please?” the boss beckons. Don’t fuck with von Holzhausen.
And then he does the deed.
Right before he pitches his off-speed curve, von Holzhausen asks "You sure?" much like the kid who tells their older brother what they're about to do will definitely get them grounded for a month. Musk gives a "yeah" and von Holzhausen, unable to act against his better judgment, goes into a half-hearted windup and lets fly. The glass spiderwebs. Elon half-laughs, half-yelps, "Oh my fucking god."
Just look at von Holzhausen's face.
Now out of fucks, von Holzhausen does the inexplicable. "Let's try the rear," he says, though Musk doesn't quite hear him. Von Holzhausen repeats himself, and Musk looks at his designer like he's gone a little mad. Von Holzhausen is unleashed.
"It didn't go through," Musk says as he watches a second Tesla Armor Glass™ window shatter. He's not laughing anymore, though von Holzhausen leaves the stage chuckling somewhat maniacally.
Musk sticks around cracking one-liners like a comedian who knows his set has gone horribly wrong. What's worse is the background.
The visuals show all the things that Tesla's engineers have thrown at the windows during testing: wooden planks, wrenches, nails, even a kitchen sink, according to Musk. "For a little weird reason, it broke now and I don't know why," Musk says. "We'll fix it in post."
Despite the jokes, Musk just can't stop looking at the windows. He turns around at least five times to examine the damage during the presentation even though it's clearly not bothering him whatsoever. Nope. All good here.
Tesla's CEO had another nine minutes on stage with the Cybertruck and went on to announce a number of other features that people probably paid attention to instead of staring at the windows. I'm not sure what those are, but I do know there are a lot of great professional photos from the event.
Oh, here's how much the truck costs.
Knowing Musk, Tesla's CEO will probably take this in a perfectly measured and graceful way. Let's hope we see Franz von Holzhausen at the next event.