Tesla truck snafu shows perils of unwrapping a new vehicle before a live audience

Dodge Ram 1500
Dodge redesigned its Ram pickup for 2009 with beefier styling. To make the point, it then drove 103 live Oklahoma longhorns through the streets of Detroit.

Rehearse all you want, but a new-product launch doesn’t always go as planned. Thursday night’s preview of Tesla Inc.’s Cybertruck was one of the more spectacular examples, when Franz von Holzhausen, the company’s design chief, unintentionally shattered two of the pickup’s windows with a metallic ball.

Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s reaction? “Oh my ... God.”

Here are a few other auto-industry previews that went astray.

Chrysler Minivan (1983)

When Chrysler introduced its first minivan in November 1983, Chairman Lee Iacocca drove it off the assembly line, accompanied by other executives. He got out and waved to the crowd, but the sliding rear door wouldn’t open, trapping the men in the back. They were quickly rescued.


Nissan QX Inspiration (2019)

Nissan Motor Co. prepared a splashy video introduction for the precursor of its first fully electric sport-utility vehicle. But when it came time for the Infiniti model to roll onto the stage at this year’s Detroit auto show, the SUV failed to appear. Karim Habib, then Infiniti’s executive design director, paused, said, “You can’t see it, but it is here,” and then went back on script as if the vehicle had emerged. Technicians couldn’t get it to start and ended up covering it with a black tarp.

Nissan Leaf (2018)

Nissan had an unwelcome distraction in 2018 when it planned to unveil a longer-range Leaf electric car at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The company’s former Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn had been arrested about two weeks earlier for alleged financial crimes and was being held in a Tokyo jail. So even though Nissan postponed the official announcement until January 2019, the Hollywood actress it hired to promote the Leaf, Margot Robbie, still gamely appeared -- sans the car -- to talk about environmental issues.

Carlos Ghosn, president of Nissan Motors, speaks at a 2011 news conference in Yokohama, Japan.
(Kazuhiro Nogi / AFP/Getty Images)


Chrysler Ram Pickup (2008)

A Chrysler preview strategy created an unexpected diversion. To launch its new Ram trucks in 2008, the automaker staged a cattle drive down Washington Boulevard to Cobo Hall, the site of the Detroit auto show. One of the steers got a bit too romantically involved with a longhorn cow in the drive, prompting Pat Schiavone, design chief for Ford Motor Co.’s pickup programs, to say, according to the Windsor Star, “He’s obviously very excited about the new truck.”

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