Tesla's Cyber Secret: The Untold Story of a Second Cybertruck Prototype

By Kevin Armstrong
A Cybertruck concept created by a fan
A Cybertruck concept created by a fan

In the turbulent genesis of Tesla's Cybertruck, a secretive subplot unfurls, unveiling a parallel narrative where a second prototype once shared floor space with the now-iconic design chosen by CEO Elon Musk. According to Walter Isaacson’s biography on Musk, a fraction of Tesla engineers embarked on a covert operation to devise an alternative, much more conventional truck.

The Secret Second Design

As Isaacson narrates, a number of engineers were less than enamored with Musk's innovative, borderline avant-garde vision for the pickup. Tesla design chief Franz von Holzhausen stated, “A majority of the people in this studio hated it," revealing an undercurrent of resistance towards the futuristic model already set in motion.

Through the years, we've heard about the pushback and heated debates about Cybertruck within the Tesla team, but this is the first we've heard of an alternative that was parked beside the Cybertruck when Musk made his choice. It's also news that engineers continued to work on another version.

Despite concerns and covert efforts for a more “conventional” alternative, Musk remained steadfast in his commitment to the groundbreaking design. "Let's be bold. Let's surprise people," Musk insisted, unswayed by market trends and focused on constructing something truly unique. He affirmed, “I don't care if no one buys it,” underlining a fierce determination to usher in a futuristic vehicle, divergent from the mainstream.

Musk’s Vision

Musk envisioned a vehicle that would shatter norms and astonish people, drawing inspiration from video games such as Halo, Cyberpunk 2077, and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. This aesthetic route was not universally celebrated within the team; some advocated for a less radical approach, fearing the avant-garde design might alienate traditional truck buyers.

Amidst these polarized opinions, Musk championed the boldness of the concept, emphasizing his desire for a future that “looks like the future.” His sentiment was mirrored during a brainstorming session, which saw a passionate debate over diverse conceptual designs, including one inspired by the Chevy Silverado, a symbol of traditional truck design.

Original Cybertruck sketches and concepts
Original Cybertruck sketches and concepts
Not a Tesla App

In a testament to Musk's unyielding vision, he fast-tracked the project to have a drivable version for the November 2019 Cybertruck event, pushing the team to assemble it in three months instead of the typical nine.

The existence of an alternate prototype remains shrouded in mystery, a silent testimony to the diverging paths the iconic vehicle could have tread. The whereabouts and specifics of this alternate version remain unknown, leaving us to wonder about the road not taken in Tesla's audacious journey into the future.

Tesla's Supercharger Team Shakeup: Firings, Rehiring, and Future Prospects

By Karan Singh

Tesla recently fired the entire Supercharger team, including Tesla’s head of charging – Rebecca Tinucci, after she pushed back on the extreme layoffs that took place right before the cut.

The Supercharger team consisted of over 500 employees, at least after the initial layoffs. In the following days and weeks, Tesla began to rehire some of the employees that it had fired.

Some Damage Done

In the immediate aftermath of the firing of the Supercharger team, contractors and site planners were left bewildered, with no contact from the Supercharger team that was responsible for payment, planning, and decision-making.

As this has played out, new Supercharger deployments have been reduced – stations that were already being built are being completed, but no new announcements have been made since t

It was dire news at the time - but it isn’t all bad.

Returning Employees

Now, more and more of the employees that were fired are beginning to return to Tesla, some of whom are announcing that they were asked to return to Tesla in their previous capacities.

George Bahadue, Senior Manager of Site Acquisition and Business Development commented on LinkedIn:

“Two weeks ago, I was asked to return to Tesla in my previous capacity heading up the business development and site acquisition for Tesla charging – I accepted.”

His reasoning to accept the position was a quote from Rebecca Tinucci:

“You work at Tesla because you hope to have at least a small impact on our collective future – aspirationally, to leave the world better for our children and grandchildren and their children and grandchildren – by accelerating the transition to sustainable energy. And that mission is too important to allow any distractions.”

New Stations Could be Coming Soon

With the restaffing of the Supercharger team, especially with the return of George Bahadue, we can expect that new Supercharger sites may be announced in the coming weeks, as the ripple effect from the layoffs begins to settle.

The rehiring of experienced staff suggests that Tesla and Elon Musk are still committed to the vision of maintaining and expanding its Supercharger network – the largest and most reliable charging network in North America, which is crucial for the mission to move the world to renewable energy.

Tesla Cuts Model Y Output in China – Economic Slowdown and Anticipated Project Juniper Launch

By Karan Singh

Tesla recently cut Model Y output in China, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), Tesla’s production of the Model Y in China experienced a decline of approximately 18% in March, and 33% in April, versus the same time last year.

Output Cuts

These output cuts can be attributed to Tesla’s recent decision to reduce production of the Model Y at Giga Shanghai by at least 20% from March to June 2024. This was attributed to an unnamed Spokesperson by Reuters last week.

This decision could be multifaceted – the primary reason being an economic slowdown in China as price wars continue to be waged between EV manufacturers, including Tesla. On the flipside, Tesla has continued its production of the updated 2024 Model 3, colloquially referred to as the Highland, with an increase of 10%.

Project Juniper?

The second reason for this slowdown could be the incoming arrival of the Model Y refresh – also known as Project Juniper. Tesla China has already introduced an updated Model Y with a unique cloth dash with similar ambient lighting as the Model 3.

The Model 3 Highland was also introduced in China before its introduction to other markets, including North America and Europe.

Juniper Upgrade Speculation

Not much has been seen about Project Juniper at this time, but we can expect a similar suite of upgrades that match the updated 2024 Model 3 Highland – including a new front fascia design, updated doors and dynamics, steering updates, improved control arms, ambient lighting, new seats, and improved range.

There is a continued expectation that Tesla is pushing back its Model Y refresh – its best-selling vehicle – to make a bigger splash. This could include newer features – like the Cybertruck’s Steer-by-Wire, front camera, or other upgrades and changes – like the lack of stalks on the rest of the Tesla line-up.

Tesla previously confirmed we’re not seeing the Juniper Y this year, this could be the time needed to retool and upgrade lines to prepare for its introduction sometime next year.

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