Tesla’s Cybertruck and its ‘nutty’ inspirations are merchandising gold (or silver, rather)

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If you’re not ‘in the know’ on Twitter (as I was not before sitting down to discuss this topic), a Tesla Cybertruck fan has begun capitalizing on the unique design of Elon Musk’s answer to the pickup in the form of 3D printed merchandise. Specifically, this guy is taking preorders for digitized testicles to hang off of Cybertruck’s tow hitch. The effort includes a website with high resolution images of the CAD file design, a Kickstarter campaign, and he’s even caught a full article’s worth of  attention of a some online auto publications with the idea including Motor1 and Drivetribe.

The site Tesletter, on the other hand, simply featured the yet-to-be-produced product as a Black Friday gift idea for Tesla owners. Unlike the Cybertruck Nuts item itself, which made me simply gawk and chuckle, the gift list got me thinking. Will the Cybertruck be the design that inspires Tesla’s merchandise to go mainstream?

I mean, most Tesla products that are available are actual items to use on or with your vehicle, not so much deck out the rest of your living space. Everyone has mugs and t-shirts (seriously, everyone with a brand), but you’d hardly consider that level of merchandising in the same realm as something like…say…Harley Davidson. Tesla has done a bit of expansion here with their kid-sized car and die cast models, plus the Starman-Tesla crossover inspired some cool fan-created designs. Yet, still… Something about Harley Davidson has inspired even the most non-biker types to buy items with the branding even though the brand wasn’t “them” at all.

As I write this, I’m suddenly remembering that my friend’s preschooler was at our house yesterday sporting a Harley logo shirt despite her parents being the types to drive an SUV and minivan, work in corporate settings, and wouldn’t dream of ever owning a motorcycle, much less visit biker bars for fun. I’ve personally outfitted my oldest in a Harley-logoed leather jacket as a kid because it was cute, and as a tween, she had a pair of Harley boots that were her prized possession. Other than liking the bikes for 5 minutes as a middle schooler, neither of us have ever even considered owning V-twin-engined transportation, yet we still liked the merchandise.

I wonder if the Cybertruck could have that same sort of effect. I’ve said before that it’s not a truck I’d buy personally because it doesn’t fit my day-to-day lifestyle. However, there are a lot of branded things I buy because they’re cool to me or fit something else in my life (music, other form of entertainment, etc.). I buy my kids stuff featuring  the Ninja Turtles frequently, and I even own things with Jem and the Holograms and the Power Rangers on them. I wouldn’t buy a car that was outfitted like April O’Neil’s news van or a truck styled like Megazord, but I would obviously purchase some spinoff merchandise.

The comparison is fair, I think, given the Hollywood inspiration for Cybertruck. Stylish merchandise is only the beginning, too. The tech behind Musk’s brainchild could also go into other products that I and others like me (etc., etc.) might buy. And it’s all in support of Tesla’s brand and mission, still bringing in income to the company to further it, and beyond.

What are your spinoff merch ideas? And…if you’re going to buy a Cybertruck…will you buy Cybertruck Nuts some day?

Tesla’s Cybertruck and its ‘nutty’ inspirations are merchandising gold (or silver, rather)

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Tesla Cybertruck spotted near LAX airport with tow hitch exposed

Tesla Cybertruck prototype was caught in the wild near LAX airport in Los Angeles, also marking the first time the all-electric pickup truck was spotted with its tow hitch exposed. Tesla enthusiast Cody Simms saw the Cybertruck during his commute near Lincoln boulevard and shared his snapshot on Twitter.

The Cybertruck’s tow hitch was not in use in the most recent sighting but one can imagine the numerous applications for it given its towing capacity.  Tesla Cybertruck specs called for towing capacity of 14,000 lbs for its Tri-Motor AWD variant, while the Single Motor RWD and Dual Motor AWD versions will have a towing capacity of 7,500 pounds and 10,000 lbs, respectively. Tesla fans are yet to hear about optional accessories that will go with the Cybertruck upon delivery but the numbers say it all about what this electric pickup truck can pull.

The Cybertruck is expected to be a towing monster when compared to the current leaders of the pack, outgunning the 2019 Ford F-150, a truck known as one of the best in terms of towing and hauling with a capacity of ~13,200 lbs for its upper-end variants. The latest iteration of the Ram 1500, meanwhile, has a towing capacity of 12,750 lbs.

The massive Tesla Cybertruck was also recently seen cruising on a public road in Hawthorne, California followed by a blue Model X.

Tesla’s all-electric truck has gone head to head against a Ford F-150 in a video demonstration but the Cybertruck proved too much for the 2WD XLT variant of the F-150. Ford eventually invited Tesla to do a rematch for a proper “apples to apples” test but the American carmaker backtracked when Elon Musk proved enthusiastic, explaining that its tug-of-war rematch challenge was just “tongue in cheek.”

The Tesla Cybertruck is priced competitively against the other six-seat pickups in the market, such as the Ford F-150 SuperCrew variants. A new analysis, meanwhile, shows the advantage of the Cybertruck in terms of cost of ownership. The total cost of ownership of a Ford F-150 owner in California will be around $72,459 over five years while Tesla’s will peg the cost at $53,379.

The entry-level Cybertruck will cost $39,900 while the Dual Motor version will go for $49,990, and the top-tier electric pickup will sell for $69,900. Tesla will begin production of the Cybetruck in late-2021.

Tesla Cybertruck spotted near LAX airport with tow hitch exposed

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Tesla files patent application for glass-cleaning lasers

Sometimes, water isn’t enough.

The Tesla braintrust earlier this year filed a patent application in the U.S. for debris-cleaning lasers, which could be used on Tesla’s driver-assistance hardware susceptible to weather and dirt. The patent was first reported on by Car and Driver in November.

Tesla glass-cleaning lasers

Tesla glass-cleaning lasers

According to the patent filing, the system would use cameras to detect debris or weather and then use lasers to clean the surface of material including “snow, water droplets, paint, bird-droppings, bug-splats, plant-sap, oil spills, grimes, dirt, and mud.”

The filing goes in extensive detail to explain a relatively simple process of cleaning windshields, sensors, and photovoltaic panels that accumulate dirt, water, and debris—except this time with lasers. One thing worth noting is the system’s calibration to pulsate at ultra-short frequencies to avoid damaging sensor equipment, which would also be coated in a material such as indium tin oxide to protect the cameras or sensors.

A patent application doesn’t guarantee that it’ll show up on any car soon, or ever. Automakers routinely file applications for research and development tech that never sees the light of day, but it’s an interesting insight into the automaker’s skunkworks.

Tesla glass-cleaning lasers

Tesla glass-cleaning lasers

And Tesla’s system isn’t a solution in search of a problem, at least not in the future. As advanced driver-assistance systems evolve and become more common, the need to mitigate weather and debris becomes more important. Driver-assistance systems such as Tesla’s Autopilot have a very specific vulnerability: they don’t operate very well when snow, dirt, or mud accumulates on the sensors. Cleaning those sensors will be important in the future, because driver-assistance systems will be needed on more than just sunny days.

For now, we’ll have to rely on water.

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