Yesterday, I got Musked*.
I wrote an op-ed about how I think the Cybertruck won’t sell well over the long term, though I do expect it to sell strongly at first. I said it might be the first real flop from Tesla.
Perhaps predictably, it caused quite the stir among the company’s fans on Twitter.
I got accused of being paid off by the legacy OEMs (not true, and anyone who reads this site regularly knows we’re just as critical of them), of being bought off by the OEM who hosted my dinner the night the Cybertruck was unveiled (I provided that anecdote for color/background, the dinner had nothing to do with my opinion of the truck), of being bitter I wasn’t invited to the truck’s launch (I wasn’t upset about that), of having stock in an OEM (I don’t, as knowingly owning OEM stock would be unethical. Whatever stock I have in retirement and investment accounts is blind to me), and of all sorts of other things.
I was even accused of writing “clickbait.” Never mind that a) We want you to read everything we publish and b) it’s not mutually exclusive to hold an opinion and also anticipate it might get clicks. It’s completely fine to have a take and expect it to get attention. It’s not some violation of journalistic ethics. It’s not a cynical play for clicks.
I think even Elon Musk himself either re-tweeted or subtweeted the piece.
All this kerfuffle over a prediction.
I didn’t say one shouldn’t buy the Cybertruck — I wouldn’t do that without having driven the thing, unless perhaps I was laying out a comparison of specs and pricing between the Tesla and the competition. That wasn’t the purpose of the piece. I did say I kinda find the truck to be ugly and that based on what we know about it, I don’t think it will be as useful in terms of utility as the competition. That’s it.
Yet, TTAC’s Twitter was swarmed. Swarmed, I tells ya. Again, over a prediction. Made by one automotive journalist. One of many.
I’ve never seen anything like it. I can’t imagine the response would’ve been one-tenth the same if I had said the Ford Bronco or Ford Maverick or Chevrolet Corvette C8 or Ford Lightning would be a sales flop.
I’m not complaining, mind you. We got clicks, and while the reaction from Tesla fans was over the top, I wasn’t truly harassed via either TTAC’s account or my personal Twitter (of course, I know how it might have been different if I weren’t a straight, white male).
But I am amused that a mere sales prediction could stir the stans to that level. If it were me, and a writer predicted a car I was excited about would flop, I might get annoyed, sure. But then I’d move on with my life. I don’t have that much invested (in terms of personality and/or financial stake) in any one company or product.
To be clear, I don’t mind those who actually raised legitimate, valid arguments about why I might be wrong. The whole point of writing an opinion piece is to drive conversation, to provoke thought, and to stir debate (the clicks are a nice side benefit). If I am going to argue something, I expect pushback, and as long as it’s intellectually honest and reasonable, it’s all good.
And to be fair, I didn’t get as in-depth with my arguments as I sometimes would — I wanted to keep the piece brief.
What baffles me, though, is the level of vitriol over what is ultimately just a guess made by one guy sitting in front of a laptop. It’s like being a Chicago Bears fan and wanting to take to Twitter to call some slicked-hair pundit on ESPN a brainless moron because he says the team will only win three games this year.
Yeah, you might disagree, and maybe his take is bad, but is it worth getting that fired up over?
A lot of the Tesla fans seem to think I will be upset if I am wrong. Well, I won’t be. If the Cybertruck is a sales hit and stays a hit, there’s no skin off my back. I won’t likely be fired over getting a prediction wrong. I won’t be losing sleep over it. The worse thing that happens is some people with too much time on their hands dunk on me on Twitter. I can handle that.
If I won’t be losing sleep over whether a car that I have no stake in will or won’t be a sales hit, why are the Tesla fans — especially those who have no financial stake in the company — so worried about what one journalist predicts?
*I wish I could take credit for “musked” but it came from another journalist I know.