Days after shattered glass embarrassed Tesla at the launch of its so-called “cybertruck,” the pre-orders are rolling in — some 200,000 as of midday Monday (Nov. 25), according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk via his Twitter feed. Consumers can make a pre-order by putting down a $100 refundable deposit. That’s not a lot of skin in the game, but it’s something — and it comes after a product launch that was anything but smooth, even though it gained viral attention via YouTube video viewings.
In case you somehow missed it, here’s what happened: The supposedly bulletproof glass on the new Tesla all-electric “Cybertruck” was shattered by a metal ball thrown by the design lead, Franz von Holzhausen, to show off the material’s strength. Tesla is hardly alone when it comes to failed or less-than-stellar product launches and marketing stunts, but few such failures lead to so much interest in the product at hand.
Recovering from Failure
“Coca Cola’s ‘New Coke’ disaster back in 1985 still draws attention, while Amazon’s more recent failure with the ‘Fire Phone’ is still fresh in our memories,” writes entrepreneur Neil Patel in a blog post. “The good news is even if your product launch was a total dud, there’s a strategic three-step recovery plan that can turn the tables in your favor once again.”
He said data, audience engagement and expert advice are key to understanding a product failure and how to recover from it. “Once you whittle down a list of experts who can help you improve your product, you can reach out to them individually — and perhaps send them a free product — in order to get their take on why it failed to resonate with your audience,” Patel writes. In Tesla’s case, it would also seem a viral video and social media are also part of the plan and of getting things back on track — say what you will about Musk, but he is a constant and popular presence on Twitter.
Not only that, but the electric vehicle firm is a constant presence in the news, given its business and marketing activities — the phrase “all publicity is good publicity” comes to mind there. Earlier this year, for instance, Tesla announced its move to an online-only sales model. Musk noted that the move would lower costs and enable the Model 3 to arrive on the market. Tesla, in fact, forecasts the move could let the company lower vehicle prices by about 6 percent. And the company said in its post that the move would let it “achieve the $35,000 Model 3 price point earlier than we expected.”
However, Tesla recently made changes to the company’s program for deposits. Currently, shoppers can drive a Tesla for a maximum of 1,000 miles or seven days and still have the ability to make a return. In addition, the company was seeking to make its process for deposit refunds more streamlined, per the report.
The news comes after it was reported earlier this month that Tesla was trying to get its branded merchandise to more shoppers by rolling out a store on Amazon. Tesla already sells a selection of branded items such as water bottles and jackets via its website, however it was said the company took a step to expand its potential reach with the Amazon eCommerce store. According to reports, the store had a lot of branded items but wasn’t as robust as Tesla’s own website.
Tesla, though, faces increasing competition even with the company’s relatively high profile.
In an effort to outflank Tesla, GM and Ford are working to design very different new versions of their most profitable pickup truck models with the replacement of engines that are fueled by petroleum with batteries. As it stands, the Chevrolet Silverado of GM and the F-150 pickup of Ford are the top-selling vehicles in the U.S. market, Reuters recently reported.
Ford Chairman Bill Ford recently told the news outlet, “This is going to be a real watershed for the whole industry.” While the automaker hasn’t made many details known about the electric F-series, Bill Ford reportedly hinted that the truck could have space that is load-carrying under the hood beyond a traditional bed in the back.
GM and Ford have more reasons than one to try out electric pickups. (The report, however, noted that some industry executives and analysts say the concept could be a small niche.) Electric pickups could aid GM and Ford in making notable sales of electric vehicles (EVs) that they will have to meet stricter emission standards as well as electric vehicle mandate in California as well as other states.
The coming months will bring clarity about whether the Tesla cybertruck really will appeal to hundreds of thousands of drivers — and whether that shattered glass really made as big of an impact it seemed just a few days ago.